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Championship Stroke Breakdown Series: Backstroke Breakdown

with Whitney Hite,
University of Wisconsin Head Men's and Women's Coach;
including coaching stints at Arizona (M/W), Washington (M/W), Cal (W) and Georgia (W), In just three seasons, Hite's teams broke 35 school records

In his coaching career, Whitney Hite has worked with some of the best coaches in the sport: Eddie Reese, Teri McKeever, Jack Baurle and Frank Busch. Adding nuggets from these coaches into his own philosophy, Hite delivers a comprehensive look at the most critical components of good backstroke technique.

You'll gain insights into the fundamental elements of fast and efficient backstroke, including the key ingredients that all great backstrokers have in common. Hite also addresses the variations between great backstrokers - from high power 50 and 100 backstrokers who kick out and swim at a higher tempo to the swimmers who may be more adept for the 200 backstroke and a bit slower tempo.

Coach Hite stresses the importance of good head position, developing great underwater dolphins, a steady flutter kick, and good tempo. He describes the three phases of the pull, including the catch, the pull pattern and the water exit/entry.

Throughout the video, Hite uses three swimmers of different sizes and abilities to show that all builds of swimmers can learn a style of backstroke that is right for them.

Dolphin Kick
To generate as much speed as possible coming off the walls, Hite pays particular attention to the vertical dolphin kick. He discusses its importance and emphasizes critical techniques for maximizing the kick. Swimmers demonstrate the "6 Second Blast," a vertical kicking drill designed to generate as much speed and power as possible using the underwater dolphin kick.

In this segment, you'll see a variety of drills focused on the pull.

  • "Single Arm Backstroke" and "Lane Line Pull" drills are used to develop a good pull pattern.
  • The "Double Arm Drill" helps with hand entry position.
  • "Up Top Scull Drill" establishes a strong catch.
  • "Spin Drill" encourages hand speed.

Together, these drills help coaches teach swimmers all aspects of a fast backstroke arm action.

Backstroke starts are unique to swimming, and Coach Hite has all three swimmers demonstrate their technique. He discusses the challenges taller swimmers have getting close enough to the wall. The goal is to create a start that is out, not up, for the fastest start with the cleanest water entry. Slow motion video shows the essential techniques for creating the strongest starts. He also discusses backstroke turns and has the swimmers show how they get into the tightest possible ball at the wall to create a faster turn.

Arm Cadence
You'll also learn how to use the tempo trainer to help swimmers find and develop a fast and efficient cadence. The goal is to find each swimmer's ideal cadence for each backstroke racing distance. Learn how you can challenge the swimmer by setting tempos that are faster to encourage a faster cadence or slower to improve distance per stroke. By using tempo training, coaches can spot weaknesses in a swimmer's stroke and help to continually improve upon a swimmer's strengths.

In clear, concise language Coach Hite describes the key elements of backstroke and breaks down the drills and tools he uses to develop NCAA Champion backstrokers at the University of Wisconsin.

42 minutes. 2015.

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