Backstroke – Kick Only

BKK01 Category: Power Kicking variations


Various backstroke kick-only drills


Backstroke kicking drills can help develop a longer kick (less knees), better ankle flexibility, a stronger core, better hip rotation, a connection of the hips and the kick, kick tempo that matches the rotation, and to develop muscles.   Focus on the legs and toes just touching the surface with hips that are just at the surface level.    These drills are best when keeping the arms in streamline overhead with elbows very straight and 1 thumbing locking the 2 hands together


Variables that can be incorporated into all variations:

        • No buoy at all (which can improve the T-press of the chest)
        • Buoy between thighs is a great way to reduce the knee bend and use more hips  
        • Power development with Power Bags on feet, calves, skirt or parachute                 
        • KickBand or 1FlexBand restricts knee bend while powering kick muscles
        • Fins or Fins+Power  Bands
        • Underwater flutter kick
        • Vertical flutter kick w/KickBand (too much knees if not restricted with Kickband)


BKK02 Category: Kick Only with body rotations (rotate ¼ or ½ around at set kick intervals)


After every 2, 3, or 6 kicks, then turn ¼ or 1/2 rotation to the side and continue the kick cycle


Trains proper balance from front-to-back and side-to-side

Trains the ability to press the buoyant chest down to keep the hips up

Power up the kick


BKK02-01 360 T-Press with Flutter Kick (Full Video Link)

  • Kick only with arms in streamline.  Take 4 or 6 kicks on your stomach, then 4 or 6 on one side, 4 or 6 on the back, and 4 or 6 on your opposite side
  • Add Power Bags, KickBands to add cardio as a unique kick only set
  • Swim all 4 positions full underwater before surfacing to improve balance and quality
  • See BRS02-02 (backstroke kick with 3 strokes on the back)for the same drill but adding 3 strokes each time you rotate completely onto the back.


BKK02-02 Kick Switch (Full Video Link)

  • Kick 12, 10, 8, or 6 times while laying on one side, then switch to the opposite sides for an equal set of kicks
  • Helps generate the feeling of a complete rotation to each side
  • Can have the lower arm extended up or down to the side
  • Can use this as a progression to develop a 3 beat kick cycle by starting with 12, then 10, then 8 then 6 and finally finish with a 3 beat kick cycle.


BKK03 Category: Backstroke kick only with over-chest weight


Kick with different types of weight over your chest.  The most basic type of weight is just the weight of 1 or both arms… then additional weight can be added as the swimmer develops.  Start easy (like variation 01) then work your way up to more challenging variations.  Be sure to focus on maximum rotation.  When the arms are overhead it can help to watch your hand reach up higher through the power phase of the stroke.


Helps with front-to-back balance, stroke and rotation timing, keeping the kick high in the water, powering the kick, and developing a better T-Press


BKK03-01 Lifting Arm on Recovery  (w/ or w/o Fins)

  • Kick only on back with 1 arm forward and one arm down (leaning slightly to the lead arm side)
  • Lift the trailing arm upward to the sky with the elbow straight and thumb facing upward then return that arm back to the side
  • Ideally lift the arm straight upward if capable and then bring it back down to your side
  • This will help train the arm to recover fully extended with thumb first
  • Switch arms after each 25 or 50


BKK03-02 Marching Soldier with 6 beat switch (w/ or w/o Power Bags) (GIF)(Full Video Link)

  • The arms do not go under the water in this drill.  Start with one hand on the surface of the water extended straight overhead and the other on the surface along the side of the body.  After 6 kicks, switch the location of both arms by crossing them straight up overhead.
  • Rotate the body to the side with the top arm down after each 6 kicks
  • Add Power Bags (on feet, calves, skirt or parachute) to create more drag and increase the power and quality of the kick
  • To make this really hard, add a Power Bag over a kickboard and attach the board to the waist belt so it drags just above the feet (GIF)


BKK03-03 Marching Solder with 3 beat switch (w/ or w/o Power Bags)

  • The same drill but with a 3 beat kick between rotations.  This is a much harder drill as the weight of both arms directly overhead is twice as regular.
  • It is best to start with the 6 beat version of this drill and work up to 3 kicks.


BKK03-04 Both arms held straight up over the chest (w/ or w/o  Power Bags)

  • Hold both arms directly straight up above the chest while kicking on the back
  • Be sure to rotate the core (shoulders and hips together).    Watch for one hand to reach up higher than the other as you rotate the body to each side
  • Add Power Bags (on feet, calves, skirt or parachute) to create more drag and increase the power and quality of the kick
  • To make this really hard, add a Power Bag over a kickboard and attach the board to the waist belt so it drags just above the feet

BKK03-05 Holding weight overhead   (w/ or w/o Power Bags)

Same drill as BKK03-04 with an added weight such as the Lil’ Red Kick to the hands (GIF)