Mental Physical Technical Swimming


: Back Start Technique

Back Start Technique

30 Oct

In a holistic approach, starts are defined as what takes place on the block, off the block, underwater, and during the breakout phase. Starts make up approximately twenty-five percent of total time in all twenty-five-yard/meter races, approximately ten percent of total time in all fifty-yard/meter races; and approximately five percent of total time in 100-yard/meter races. In general the teaching of starts is severely overlooked and a good start is more the exception than the rule. In a holistic approach, race-quality starts are performed frequently throughout the week.

This section features two back starts. The back starts are the block start and the gutter start. Each start consists of four phases, including:

  1. launch pad
  2. blast off
  3. splash down
  4. underwater travel/breakout

The two most popular forms of backstroke starts include the block start and the gutter start. In the block start, swimmers start from the block while in the gutter start, swimmers start from the gutter or the side of the pool. Some coaches teach only the block start while others allow younger swimmers to start from the gutter before graduating to the block. Starting from the gutter requires less overall strength and in most cases provides greater foot stability, particularly when performing starts from a slippery wall. Both backstroke starts have choices of two starting positions. In one swimmers curl into a crouched or fetal position with the chin tucked toward the chest, providing the opportunity to throw the head back at the point of departure. In the other, the head remains in a neutral position with the back flat (Japanese Start) allowing for a quicker departure from the block.

Warning: All starts must be practiced in deep water only. USA Swimming rules state: “minimum water depth for teaching racing starts in any setting from any height starting block or deck shall be 5 feet or 1.53 meters for a distance of 16 feet 5 inches or 5 meters from the starting wall.” In addition starts should be practiced only under a coach’s supervision in a lane free of other swimmers.

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