Say Goodbye To A Crooked Backstroke In 3 Easy Steps

Going off course or colliding with the lane rope or other swimmers can be an embarrassing and dangerous situation when swimming backstroke.

However, being able to swim in a straight line is indeed a challenge for backstroke swimmers of all ages.

Unlike other swimming strokes where you can look ahead while swimming, backstroke requires swimmers to be on their backs. Ensuring you are swimming straight can also be exceptionally difficult if you are swimming outdoors where there is no roof for you to use as a guide.

Determined to stop zigzagging across the pool? Here are 3 easy ways to fix your backstroke in no time!

1. Look Out for A Guide

Like how you may use the pool floor as a guide to ensure you are swimming straight in other strokes, do the same when you are swimming backstroke!

Image Credit: Getty Images
Image Credit: Getty Images

Search for something that runs parallel to the direction you are swimming in, such as a fence or the spectator stands. Keep your eye on the subject to make sure you are not swimming off course.

Using your peripheral vision, you can also look out for the lane ropes beside you and make sure you keep a consistent distance away from them. This will ensure that you do not collide into them and that you are always in the middle of the lane as you swim.

2. Do Not Lose Your Positioning

Another easy fix for a crooked backstroke is making sure you do not lose your positioning when swimming. This applies specifically to how your head moves during the stroke.

Image Credit: Dreamstime
Image Credit: Dreamstime

When swimming, your head should naturally fall into a position that is in line with your spine. You should not be sticking your neck out, trying to keep your face out of the water. Doing that can result in your hips dropping, and thus losing your streamline body position.

In addition, to swim in a straight line, your head should optimally be still during your swimming stroke. If your head is frequently moving from side to side, it can be disorientating and cause you to be off balance.

To keep your head still as you swim backstroke, practise body rotation with minimal movement to your head during your backstroke drills. Over time, you will get used to the body positioning and be able to swim with ease!

3. Maintain Your Body Roll and Arm Strength

To effectively swim straight in backstroke, always be aware of your body rolls and maintain consistent arm strength.

Image Credit: Getty Images
Image Credit: Getty Images

Some swimmers neglect the importance of rolling their bodies to the side when their arms sweep through the water. This will result in their legs and hips moving around each time to counter the single-sided pull from the arm, thus causing a crooked backstroke.

Make sure that you roll your body in the same direction as your arm that is moving through the water. For example, the body should roll to the left if your left arm is sweeping down into the water, and vice versa.

Do be consistent with the amount of strength you put into each arm pull. If one arm creates a greater force or is faster than the other when pulling, you will be swimming diagonally.

Therefore, identify which side you often steer towards when swimming backstroke and correct the amount of strength you put into that specific arm. Always try to match both your arms’ speed and motion.


If you can identify the cause of your crooked backstroke, swimming in a straight line can be achieved easily. Once you get it right, swimming straight will be a part of your muscle memory, and will come naturally.

After overcoming the challenge to swim straight, you can then move on to focusing on swimming faster and better!

If you need help in perfecting your strokes, register for a free swim trial with Swim it Right today.

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(Header Image Credit: Dreamstime)

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