How to Use Backstroke to Enhance Your Freestyle

So why don't more people swim inverted if it's so great? First there's that already-mentioned disconcerting sense of being upside-down and going backward, and, second, difficulty in staying afloat. Fortunately both are easy to fix and once you've gotten comfortable you can go on to make yourself sleek and slippery and, ultimately, fast.

Get your bearings
Use a line of tiles or lights or other markings on the ceiling to help you set a straight course. Failing that, just hug the lane line. Most pools have a set of colorful pennants hanging across the pool near each end wall. Swimmers call them "backstroke flags" because they warn you that the wall is 5 yards (three to four strokes) away.

Balance on your back
On your back, you keep your butt from sinking by hiding your head and leaning on your shoulder blades. Keep your ears below the surface; only your face should show above it. Once you have your head position set, it remains fixed; never move it. Then lean on your upper back until your hips and legs feel light. That will help you ride the waves like a pro, relaxing as you go. Now you're ready to get sleeker.

Swim "taller"
Though you can't stretch forward as you do while swimming freestyle, you can still swim taller in backstroke in two ways. One is to roll more; your body line becomes a bit longer on your side than when flat on your back. You can increase body roll by exaggerating it slightly in drills and at slower speeds so you'll hold onto the sensation as you increase your stroke rate to swim faster. The second is to stretch your arm overhead--as if reaching for the ceiling--as you recover it. Then maintain that stretch as you slice it into the water.

Practice long-axis combinations
A long-axis "combo" is several strokes of backstroke alternating with several of freestyle. You can do this while swimming whole-stroke, or in stroke drills. The long-axis combo helps in two ways. First, the full 360-degree rotation forces you to pay a bit more attention to maintaining a long, clean body line than while swimming either stroke by itself. Second, it reinforces the common aspects of the two strokes. Improvement in your backstroke will more directly benefit your freestyle if you switch between them more frequently. 

Move your bellybutton faster
If you follow your instincts, when you want to speed up your backstroke you'll windmill your arms faster. The result: You give up the sleek form you've been working so painstakingly to develop. The best way to gain speed while maintaining form is to make it a habit to swim faster by moving your bellybutton from side to side faster. If you adjust your speed in your hips, it is far more likely that your arms will stay in sync with them. 

Equipment- For better backstroke practice use our Pull Buoy