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Backstroke Swimming Drills – Hand-Lead Side balance

Hand-Lead Side Balance is the next drill in our series to learn to swim backstroke. It is a variation of the previously covered head-lead side balance swimming drill.

In the video below you will see that you keep one arm extended forward while you hold the other arm at your side.

A novice swimmer who practices the hand-lead side balance drill for the backstroke.

This teaches you how to maintain balance while swimming on your side and having one arm extended overhead.

This is typically the position you are in at the end of the arm recovery before starting the propulsive arm sweep in the water.

Video Demonstration

The following video demonstrates Hand-Lead Side Balance:

Swimming Drill Instructions

The drill starts in the same way as Head-Lead Side Balance:

  • Go to the shallow area of the pool.
  • Lean on your back, push off the ground, start to flutter kick and get into a horizontal position, with both arms resting at your sides.
  • Once you feel balanced, roll to one of your sides, and adjust your balance again.

Once you feel comfortable flutter kicking in this side position, sneak up one of your arms and extend it overhead.

  • When the arm is extended, the palm should either face the side wall or the ground.
  • Try to get balanced again in this new position.
  • Keep this position for the rest of the length, and switch sides for each new pool length.

Some Tips

Experiment with the depth of the arm in the water until you find its ideal position. For some people, the arm is nearly parallel to the water surface while for others, the arm is angled down 45° or more.

You should notice that in this position it is easier to keep your hips and legs up, as the extended arm provides additional leverage.

As you are taller with the extended arm, you should also feel that you slip better through the water and need to kick less to travel at the same speed than in head-lead side balance.

Learning Path for the Backstroke

Below is an overview of our series of articles on learning the backstroke. Each article in this series contains one or more drills that have to be mastered. The current article is highlighted:

Once you have gone through all the steps of this learning path, you should be able to swim backstroke without any problems.

Good luck!