The backstroke kick is essentially the same flutter kick as the one used in the freestyle swim stroke, only that the swimmer is turned upside down. The backstroke kick serves mostly to stabilize the swimmer's body. It also contributes a little bit to the swimmer's propulsion.
The legs kick in an alternate up-down fashion, where the kick originates in the hip. The feet are in plantar flexion, which means they point towards the end of the pool.
The kick should be fast and compact for best efficiency. It should stay within the shadow of the swimmer's body. The knees and feet should stay under water. If the kick is too large, it will create drag and slow the swimmer down.
If the swimmer has poor ankle flexibility, as is often the case with runners, he will not be able to point his feet towards the pool end, and then propulsion will be poor.
In that case, it is advisable to wear swim fins, as they will stretch the swimmer's ankles and they will become more flexible over time.
When swimming backstroke most swimmers use the six beat kick rhythm. This rhythm means that during a complete backstroke cycle, each foot kicks three times, for a total of six kicks. This six-beat kick is the kick rhythm that produces the best propulsion.
In longer distance swimming, the four-beat kick or the two-beat kick rhythms are also used, as they save energy. To be effective with these slower kick rhythms, the swimmer must have good balance. A good drill to learn this is the balance on the back swimming drill.
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