Ever Heard of the Backstroke Drill: Kayak Drill?

Ever Heard of the Backstroke Drill: Kayak Drill?

Welcome back to Part III of our series on the Backstroke Pull, this week we are going to talk about one of my favorite drills for the Backstroke Pull: Kayak Drill. If you missed Part’s I and II of this series, I would definitely recommend going and reading those first before this one.

Otherwise, let’s get started!

In Parts I and II, we discussed the pulling pattern in Backstroke, Rotation, and the Recovery. All of these technical components are VERY necessary to have an efficient Backstroke, but how do you work on all of them—using Kayak Drill.

Kayak Drill is performed with help of a kickboard so the swimmers can use the board like an “oar”. The purpose of the kickboard is to give the swimmers a LARGER surface area than their hands and really move some water towards their feet to SEE how much propulsion they are able to generate.

Check out the video below:

Why This Drill Works?

There’s really 3 main reasons why this drill is great. Let’s dive deeper into each of them.

1.) It FORCES the Swimmer to BEND Their Elbows

Swimmer performing the Kayak Drill with GREAT Elbow Bend!

In order to perform the Kayak Drill, a swimmer must put one half of the board under the surface of the water—while keeping the other above. To do this, a swimmer must BEND their elbow. Otherwise, the board wouldn’t be ½ in and ½ out.

2.) It FORCES Rotation

Swimmer performing the Kayak Drill showing the rotation needed!

The Kayak Drill does a great job of FORCING a swimmer to rotate from side-to-side while they are swimming. In order for the swimmer to ANCHOR the board into the water, they must be on their side—otherwise, we’d see a really wide pull.

With this, you can also see how a swimmer is forced to rotate BACK towards their neutral position as the board is push down towards their feet. The Kayak Drill is a great way of teaching a swimmer how to match their rotate speed to their pull speed. Gotta love the surge point it creates 😉


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3.) It KEEPS the Hand Shallow

Swimmer performing the Kayak Drill showing how HIGH the palm is towards the surface!

Just like we talked about in Part I, a swimmer wants to keep their pull shallow during Backstroke. By having to keep the board ½ in and ½ out, we already have to bend the elbow to keep the board close to our body. With this, the bottom arm (elbow) isn’t very deep in the water. Plus, the hand/palm itself sits higher. This position is EXACTLY the position we saw highlighted in the picture by USA Swimming and their National Team Athletes!

If you haven’t yet tried, the Kayak Drill with your athletes—please, do so. It is a great one. I’d love to know how it goes as well.

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

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