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Backstroke Swimming Drills – Slide and Glide Backstroke

The Slide and Glide swimming drills described below are the last ones in our series of drills to learn to swim backstroke.

With these drills, you’ll finally practice simultaneous arm stroke movements with both arms.

A novice swimmer practicing a slide and glide drill for the backstroke

However, you will include short pauses between arm strokes to rehearse the correct execution of these movements and also to restore the horizontal balance of your body.

Slide and Glide Swimming Drill

Here’s a video that demonstrates the first drill, Slide and Glide:

You use the whole-stroke backstroke movements in the Slide and Glide drill. However, you add a short pause after each active arm phase. To get started do the following:

  • Go to the shallow area of the pool.
  • Lean on your back.
  • Start to flutter kick.
  • Get into a horizontal position.
  • Extend one arm in front of you, keep the other arm at your side.
  • Make sure you are balanced in this position.

Now simultaneously execute a half arm stroke cycle with both arms:

  • The arm extended in front of you executes the propulsive phase underwater you practiced in Under Water Arm Sweeps.
  • The arm at your side executes the recovery above water you practiced in Single-Arm Backstroke.
  • When the arms have exchanged their respective positions, observe a pause for a few flutter kicks.
  • After a few flutter kicks (for example three kicks on each side), execute a half arm stroke cycle again. Both arms are back to their initial position.
  • Continue to practice the simultaneous arm motions for several lengths.

Swimming Tips

Head position: Keep the head as still and possible, avoid that it rolls from side to side.

You should look straight up at the ceiling. The chin should neither be extended nor tucked in.

Body movements: The rest of the body should roll from side to side as the arms exchange their roles. The angle of the roll should be somewhere between 30° and 45°.

Arm movements: Both arm movements should start and stop simultaneously.

Take advantage of the short pause between each half arm cycle to rehearse the correct arm movements and to regain your balance.

Triple Slide and Glide

The next drill to learn to swim the backstroke is a variation of the simple Slide and Glide swimming drill.

However now you execute three complete arm cycles before observing a pause for a few kicks.

This allows you to practice whole-stroke real backstroke in short bursts.

Focus mainly on the body roll from side to side to increase the swimming stroke’s power.

Finally Swimming Backstroke

Finally, once you have mastered all the backstroke drills, try to swim backstroke for a few lengths. This shouldn’t be too difficult to do if you have followed our progression of backstroke swimming drills.


Congratulations! You are now a backstroke swimmer! Enjoy your new swimming abilities! And why not try to tackle another swimming stroke?

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!