If your child is having a difficult time learning to swim on their back, have a go at the exercise below. I will add progressive exercises for you to try each week!
Floating- floating is a great way to introduce correct body position. If the child isn’t completely flat and floating on their own- they will have difficulty swimming on their back.
Get the child to lay flat on their back, encourage them to stick their arms and legs wide apart, with arms being above their shoulders. Ears and head need to be in the water with chest and hips raised under the surface. The legs should be in line with or below the torso- not above!
If your child is especially nervous, you may need use a progressive support method.
First hold the child under the armpits and put your shoulder under their head. This creates the most support for your child and will often get even the most anxious children comfortable.
Next, remove your shoulder from under the child’s head, keep one hand under the child’s back and move the other to support the child’s head. Once comfortable in this position, remove your hand from the child’s back leaving one hand supporting under the head.
You will know when your child is ready to try floating on their own by the amount of weight a child will put on your support position. Lots of weight means they are nervous and need to adjust their body position. No weight means they are ready to have a go on their own- very gently lower your hand from their head, be sure to keep your hands under the child in-case they panic!
Push and glide
Once having conquered a star float on the back, we need to get your child moving!
Push and glides on the back are great for getting your child (or anyone learning to swim!) into a good body position for backstroke. This is because it allows you to introduce and perfect a more streamlined moving position without having to focus on the leg kick.
Get your child to place both feet on pool wall and hold onto the rail/ side of the pool. Ensure they look upwards towards the ceiling.
Instruct your child gently push off the wall backwards making sure they focus on keeping their head back and raising the hips as soon as the body starts to lengthen (you May need to use floats or a support position). Once in the glide position, the body should be flat and streamlined near/ on the surface of the water with the arms by their sides (only for beginners).
If you child struggles with this exercise, be on the lookout for some common faults:
1- Unwilling to put head back or push off wall.
Likely a confidence issue, go back to floating to gain some more confidence. Then try a supported push and glide which has the same progression as last week’s floating support method. Place your shoulder under the child’s head and support the child under the armpits/ back with your hands, you will need to move with the child during the push and glide. Next, place one hand under the head and the other under the upper back between the shoulder blades. Finally, one hand behind the head. Once they are applying little weight to your support, let them have a go without your help, but have your hands underneath ready to catch them!
2- Sinking when pushing off wall.
Body position fault, the child’s head is too high, or hips aren’t being pushed high enough to the waters surface. Keep practicing and reminding them of the cues: hips up and head back.
3- Jumping out of the water instead of gliding along the surface.
Check foot position on wall as feet may be too low. Feet should be just under the surface of the water between the knees. Ensure the child keeps their head in the water during the push and ask them to use less force when pushing off!
Pigeon toed Kick
Using the pigeon toed kick increases foot surface area allowing you to move more water with each kick.
Turn your feet inward as seen in the picture. Allow your knees and hips to rotate inward slightly too. Feel the top of your feet pushing against the water as you kick.