better backstroke starts

Backstroke starts. Love them or hate them, a good start can mean the difference between first and second. Our pictorial guide will give you a few pointers about how to make the most of your start in five steps, all the way through to the breakout.


1. be prepared

Keep your shoulders relaxed and don’t forget to breathe!
Your feet should be shoulder width apart. If you have trouble slipping on the wall, try putting one foot lower than the other.

  • Your toes could be anywhere from 2-8 inches under the surface of the water, whatever feels most comfortable, but your feet must be completely submerged. You are not allowed to curl your toes into the gutter or over the edge of the pool.
  • When you are called to your marks, begin your pull up. You don’t want to get too curled up however – pull your head in towards the block but keep your knees at about a 90 degree angle. Your backside will be a little way away from the wall.


2. take off

When the gun goes off, first push with your hands away from the block, throw your head back, then drive with your legs.

You need to get your hands around your body to a streamlined position in time to execute an entry into the water. This can be easier if you move them around the sides of your body. Pushing them straight back over your head will force your body down to the water.


3. water entry

Arch your back after you come off the wall and push your midriff upwards.
Make sure you get a good streamlined position as you enter the water – one hand on top of the other with your head tucked in between your arms.

  • You should try to go through the same spot in the water with your entire body; hands first, head second, body last
  • Flick your feet up as your legs go into the water to prevent them catching on the surface and creating drag, slowing down your entry.


4. underwater

Once you are underwater keep in a good streamlined position – one hand on top of the other with your head tucked tightly in between your arms, but not too far back.
If you use butterfly kicks keep them small and powerful, and make sure you kick from the hips. Count your kicks to ensure you don’t go over the 15m maximum allowed underwater.

  • If you have trouble with water going up your nose breathe out whilst you’re underwater or consider using a nose clip.
  • If you find yourself too deep, angle your hands upwards slightly – this will bring you back to the surface without losing your streamline.


5. break out

Begin your pull with your bottom hand
Keep your other arm tight against your head

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