3 Keys to a Perfect Backstroke Breakout:

There’s been so MUCH talk about Backstroke this past week due to the change in rules about the Backstroke Finish, but with that – we realized we haven’t spent much time dissecting the Backstroke Breakout. Here are 3 Keys to make sure ALL your swimmers are doing as you’re practicing and perfecting Backstroke Breakouts:

Let’s get started!

1.) Get the Body Parallel to the Water’s Surface ASAP

It is extremely important that as swimmers transition their body from below water to above the surface, they do it SMOOTHLY and QUICKLY. Every swimmer should strive to get their chest parallel to the water’s surface before they drive their head and shoulders out. Finding the point that the body does go parallel right underneath the water’s surface takes practice. Each swimmer should spend time finding their ideal number of Dolphin Kicks that helps them get their body parallel off a start or a turn.

If a swimmer breakouts out too early, their body will be at a sharper angle and trying to climb themselves up. If a swimmer waits to breakout too long, their whole body may already be out of the water as they are still trying to finish their Dolphin Kick count.

@theafish1 And with the break out, you want a swimmer to break out at a diagonal angle – so they are still moving forward while transitioning through the surface 💯 #swimtok #swimtraining #swimtrainer #swimlaps #swimlessons #swimlapday #swimtips #swimteam #swimtime ♬ original sound – Abbie Fish

The number one way to work on getting the body parallel to the water’s surface is practicing a consistent dolphin kick count. This kick count can take swimmers to the 15m mark or even less. The key is NOT in the distance, but in the consistency of the kick count. Practicing and perfecting a consistent Dolphin Kick count is the number one way to master Backstroke Breakouts – no matter the number of Dolphin Kicks swimmers are using.

2.) Dolphin Kick into the FIRST Arm Pull

This is often an overlooked component of a Backstroke Breakout, but kind of goes into the same reasoning that swimmers would transition underneath the surface into a Dolphin Kick during the finish now. The first pull should happen entirely under the water, so as swimmers start to pull DOWN with their bottom arm – that pull should happen in conjunction with the last Dolphin Kick.

After the last Dolphin Kick is completed (and the first pull), you will see swimmers start Flutter Kicking themselves through the surface of the water and this point is where they body actually transitions up and through too!

The first pull and the last Dolphin Kick all happen under the surface. Check out the video below for a closer look:

Swimmer showing a perfect Backstroke Breakout with the Dolphin Kick to Flutter Kick Transition!

3.) Roll the Body THROUGH the Water’s Surface

After swimmers complete the first pull, they should have already rotated the body to their side. So when they breakout, they’re breaking out with their shoulders stacked vertically. This helps reduce drag as swimmers are reducing the surface area of their own body that’s under the water because they are on their side and some of their body is over the water now.

Naturally, swimmers should start rotating with that first pull, so the goal is to time the end of the first pull with the first recovery happening OVER the surface of the water. So swimmers basically Dolphin Kick and pull themselves out of the water and then, recover that same arm to get the body totally onto the surface of the water!

There is another style of Backstroke Breakouts called Tennessee Breakouts and this style of Breakout uses a bit more of rotational force and a top arm sweep – to help roll the body through the surface of the water. This type of Backstroke Breakout does the same thing in regards to rotation and keeping the body on its’ side through transition from below the water to above the water (see below):

Video Example from GoSwimTV on the Tennessee Breakouts!


Just like with any breakout, the goal in Backstroke is the same – keep the body moving forward through the transition and carry speed. That first stroke coupled with a Dolphin Kick is the strongest pull of any swimming race, so it’s imperative that every swimmer try to perfect it – especially for our lovely Backstrokers. If you want more in-depth stroke help for Backstroke, be sure to snag our Backstroke Course for Coaches. If you’re a swimmer and looking for a new training plan to get your Backstroke to the next level, check out our 90-Day Training Plan on Backstroke!

Until Time Next,

Abbie Fish

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