Should you rotate less in backstroke?

Should you rotate less in backstroke?


back start at the 2008 Olympic games



More and more backstrokes are moving away from rotating in the backstroke in pursuit of the easy speed and faster tempo that less rotation provides. Is getting this easy speed worth not rotating?

Leg power and rotation are the 2 main focus points of having a great backstroke. I have seen people with very slow tempo and break world records and win Olympic gold medals. This is how I see it… Not rotating in backstroke is like swimming straight arm on freestyle… It’s very effective… for the end of the race.  Most coaches out there only want to see fast tempo swimming (Fast arm and fast legs). As a result of that it is possible for you to lose efficiency since your arms and legs can only go so fast. This is something I experience during my college swimming career. Faster arms and legs does not mean you are going faster. The goal of fast swimming is efficiency. To find the right balance between distance per stroke and tempo. Once you have effectively developed good distance per stroke then you can improve technique.


Tip: Using paddles that are bigger that your hand increase your arm strength and your distance per stroke.


Swimming in yards pool

That being said. From my college swimming experience, there is a culture, an atmosphere where everyone thinks that fast tempo is the key to swimming fast. Which is not always true. Switching to a faster tempo might work for a swim meet or to but in the long run your technique, efficiency is going to suffer and you will find it increasingly difficult to gain more and more speed later in your swimming career. So don’t follow the crowd. Get your distance per stroke first then increase you tempo. Take a look at Ryan lochte swimming in the video below, his stroke efficiency and distance per stroke is amazing. Which brings me to my next point long course swimming.


Long Course swimming

Long course swimming has been referred to as a different sport compared to yards swimming. And most yards swimming struggle at swimming fast in a long course meters pool. Why is this? A long course pools requires a lot more gliding and distance per stroke compared to a yards pool before you get to the other then. If you use the same technique use to swim in a yards pools your race will be finished by the time you each 25 yards in the 50m pool. This is why working distance per stroke and stroke efficiency is important. This allows you to swim faster longer. Also, you disturb the water less which means less drag. And as well all know reducing drag is half of the battle when it comes to getting faster.

Exceptions to the rules:

As you might know by now there is always exception to the rules. And for this rule the exception is height and arm length. For relatively short people, your arm rate might seem faster that the average height individual because you have shorter arms. Don’t let this fool you into think that you should not work on distance per stroke as well. Your arm rate might need to be higher but you still have to cover the same 25 yards or 50 meters so getting enough distance for each stroke is still important.


Tip: A great way to increase your distance per stroke is to consciously kick more while gliding.


I hope his was helpful. Give me some feedback in the comments section below.


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