Encouraging More Adults to Swim
Technique and Training

Backstroke Timing Drill

With or without fins, just do it!

Cokie Lepinski | October 9, 2012

Here's a drill that has multiple benefits for backstrokers. It will help with timing of your arm strokes, getting you to rotate from your core, and keeping your kick steady. And the good news is that this is an easy drill to learn and master. You can do this with fins or without. If you already have a good kick, go without fins. If your kick needs work, don your fins, but you’ll ultimately benefit much more without fins.

We call it the Quarter Arm Lift Drill. Kick on your back with your arms down at your side. Get yourself rotating just slightly side to side, about every six kicks. As you rotate slightly onto your right hip, lift your left hand and arm about 30 degrees off your left hip—just about a 1/4 lift of a full-arm recovery. As you kick, to rotate over to the left hip, lift your right hand and arm up off your right hip in the same fashion. This helps you feel the timing of the beginning of your arm recovery.

Key points. Your side-to-side rotation is not to a full 90 degrees. Instead, rotate somewhere between 30–45 degrees. Keep your hands relaxed but arms straight. Never stop your kick—it doesn't have to be hard, but it should be steady. Keep your core engaged throughout the entire process (pull your belly button to your spine). Rotate using your core, not your shoulders. Some swimmers feel that if they concentrate on rotating from about 4 inches below the hip line, they get a better connection to their core.

Here is a video clip of the Quarter Arm Lift Drill

USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Cokie Lepinski

Cokie Lepinski is a USMS Level 4 coach and head coach of Swymnut Masters, a team that's NUTS about swimming! She is the 2014 Speedo/USMS Coach of the Year and serves as vice chair for the USMS Coaches Committee. She authored a swimming drill e-book, “There is a Drill for That” because she is always on the hunt for ways for swimmers to become faster and more efficient in the water. 

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