How to do backstroke

Share Share Share


Backstroke is an essential part of your repertoire of swimming strokes and adds variety to any training programme. As the only competitive stroke swum on your back, backstroke focuses on slightly different muscles so will really help with all-over muscle tone and flexibility. Lots of swimmers find the stroke easier than others since the face-up position makes breathing simpler. The obvious disadvantage is that you can’t see where you’re going, though this will help to develop your proprioception – your perception of the position of your body, its movement and spatial awareness – in the water.

Ready to improve your backstroke? Watch Speedo’s four technique videos below.


Like other strokes, a strong pull, catch and perfect elbow and finger positioning will help you get faster, fitter and more efficient in the water. See how to streamline your stroke and find out how to use finger paddles to build strength and improve hand positioning in the pull and catch phases.


As with freestyle, a powerful kick in backstroke comes from your hips, not the knees. See how to position your toes, feet and knees for perfect propulsion in the water and find out how to use a kickboard and fins for ultimate speed.


With your face out of the water at all times, controlling your breath is much simpler in backstroke, giving you chance to really hone other parts of your technique. Developing a breathing pattern in rhythm with your stroke is the secret to comfortable breathing. Watch the video to see how it’s done.

Body positioning

Swimming on your back can be disorientating at first, but you soon get used to it and the more comfortable and relaxed you become, the faster you’ll get. A neutral head position and tight core will help to keep your body high in the water, making you as streamlined – and speedy – as possible.

This is a Men’s Health promotion brought to you by Speedo

Other articles