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Backstroke – the importance of shoulder rotation

In many of our sessions, swimmers are asked to swim a single arm backstroke rotation drill, to focus on a good catch with the opposite shoulder lifting out of the water.

Backstroke requires even more rotation of the shoulders than freestyle and in order to position the hands at the top of the stroke, there needs to be good rotation of the shoulders that leverage the use of the arms to pull through. Too many swimmers try to swim backstroke flat on their back, with a straight arm and then cannot generate the power required in order to swim the stroke fast. When there is an absence of rotation the pull occurs too near the surface of the water and too often with a straight arm. I try to get swimmers to visualize their arm in a v-shape under the water at the strongest part of the pull.

The video below is an excellent example for swimmers to see how the rotation of the shoulders gives a deeper pull and the swimmer spends more time on their side than flat on their back.

Next time you are swimming the single-arm backstroke drill you have a reason to swim it with more purpose.

Richard Bruford View All

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology.

With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools.

Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin.

In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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