Hitting or Missing the Wall – Backstroke Flip Turns
Here is an article that you can find on TheStartingBlock.blogspot.com
The backstroke turn can make or break a race for a swimmer. Nailing this turn will help shave some time and increase confidence among young swimmers.
Why is the backstroke tumble turn so difficult?
First of all, there is the mental aspect. It’s not exactly easy to go full-speed backwards toward a concrete wall while on your back. The word, concussion, comes to mind every time I see young swimmers trying this for the first time. If a swimmer is lucky enough to figure out when to initiate the turn, he/she must then learn to do it legally.
By far, at the meets I have attended, the most DQ’d element I have seen among young swimmers involves this seemingly simple turn.
If the swimmer flips too soon, they will more than likely glide too far, take an extra stroke or kick into the wall. They might completely miss the wall after they turn and have to go back, which probably won’t work too well since the swimmer must stay on their back unless performing a legal flipturn.
If the swimmer attempts to flip too late, they might not have enough time to perform the flip at all so they could be stuck on your belly – not a place to be if a stroke/turn judge is glaring down at them.
How do you make sure your swimmers perform this turn without getting DQ’d?
It takes a lot of practice. This goes back to the mental aspect. Many young swimmers will have to be coaxed into practicing this turn because, like I already said, the backstroke flipturn is not typically associated with pleasant thoughts. When practicing, it may take some time to get the swimmer to trust themselves and their ability to perform a successful turn.
Counting strokes from the flags is the method typically used to teach this turn. This is tricky because swimming at different paces will change the stroke count and cause the swimmer to be too far from, or to close to, the wall…opening them up to several disqualification situations.
It is normal to slow down when approaching the wall. If the swimmer were to hit it when going slow, it obviously won’t hurt as badly as if they were approaching the wall at race pace. Since the goal is to be able to swim explosively into the wall so the swimmer can come off the wall with their momentum going in the opposite direction, the backstroke flip turn will need to be practiced at race pace.
How to Determine the Proper Stroke count