How to Approach the Wall

Video Transcription: When you approach the wall on a Backstroke Turn, the flags are very important. Flags are a key element to having a good turn. Learning how to use the flags and knowing how to count your strokes from flags to the wall is very important for the development of swimmers for the rest of their career. Stroke counts can be a little bit hairy because really what the swimmers are looking for is the average stroke count. Keep in mind that your stroke count can change with an increase in speed or stroke rate. So if you’re swimming faster, you’re gonna be taking more strokes, which means that your count could change.

What is the average stroke count a swimmer normally hits? When they’re eight, nine, ten, eleven, or twelve years old, that can be the same number, but if they start to specialize in Backstroke, then they may be doing the 50, the 100 and the 200 in yards. That count may change from 50 to 200. The average is pretty much a standard deviation of plus or minus one from the average count. So it’s important that swimmers know the average count and then they know the deviation from that count. Just in case, so that way they can accommodate if they’re increasing or decreasing their speed.

With that, swimmers need to make sure they know which side they prefer to roll towards. Another way to think about this is the side that you like to push off on for Freestyle Flip Turns. If you like to roll towards your left on Freestyle Flip Turns, or really like you’re starting to push off the wall and you’re rolling to your stomach through your left side, then you may want to cross over on your right arm, which is the same rolling direction that you do in Freestyle Flip Turns.

If you push off and you roll towards your right, that would be your left arm. Your left arm would be the last stroke, and the rolling stroke from back to stomach for Backstroke Flip Turns, but it’s good to correlate what you do for Freestyle because most swimmers swim Freestyle more than Backstroke. What you’re doing over and over and over again, your brain already knows, so make it easier for your swimmers by converting that to their Backstroke Flip Turns.

It is good to be comfortable with rolling both ways, but that’s more damage control. I would say that it’s good to have one way that you know and love. Just make sure it’s legal on the other side as well.

Stroke counts are interesting because the way you approach the flags can change your count. Swimmers need to understand that if they’re in the middle of the cycle, which arm do they count first? It’s really important for coaches to have that conversation of saying, hey, I’m counting with my top arm first. So that’s one, two, three and then flipping versus the swimmer might be counting with the bottom arm first and they may be counting four. Describing what you want your swimmers to do and count with is an important conversation for your swimmers when they’re learning how to have a better Backstroke Flip Turn.