How To Do A Backstroke Flip Turn


Backstroke is one of the main swimming techniques and the fastest one, after freestyle. This also means you’ll have to think about basically everything you do during your swim to minimize your time and maximize your speed, which includes turning. For this, learning how to do a backstroke flip turn is one swimming maneuver you’ll find the most helpful. In this article, we’ll show you the basics and give you all the information, guidelines, and tips to make your turn learning as easy as possible.

What Is A Backstroke Flip Turn?

Backstroke flip turn is one of the main swimming maneuvers used to perform turns at the end of the swimming pool as quickly as possible to maintain speed and pace and keep the rhythm intact. It is quite similar to a freestyle flip turn, but there are some backstroke turn rules you should follow to do it as easily as possible and to learn how to use it in your advance. Also, you can check out our guide on swimming pool etiquette.

Doing A Backstroke Flip Turn

So, how do you do a backstroke flip turn? It may sound complicated and complex, but if you follow these steps, after enough practice it will become a natural part of your swimming arsenal and you’ll do it flawlessly, with ease.

Start with your regular backstroke, catch the rhythm, and count the strokes. Unlike freestyle, you won’t be in a position to see the marks on the bottom of the pool, so it may require a bit more focus to know where you are. Some swimming pools may have flags above so you can use them for orientation, but if there are no flags, you should look at the lane line. The long red color section means you’re near the edge of the pool. This is when you should start to count your strokes, and subtract one to know the number of strokes you’ll need before you begin your backstroke flip turn.

Look above your head or to the side. If you see you’re approaching the wall by observing the flags above the pool or the lane line, start counting. Once you reach the number of strokes needed to get from that mark to the end of the pool, it is time to make a turn from your back to your front. You’ll do it by crossing the hand that is out of the water in front of your body and rolling over to your front to a freestyle-swimming position. If there is some distance left, make a few freestyle strokes until you reach a proper position. As a practice, try to lower the freestyle strokes to only one, before you dive down.

Do not slow down, because this will mess with your velocity and make the whole turn way harder. If you keep the pace, simple laws of physics will allow your body to follow your arms through the water and you’ll find yourself propelling to the other side in a no-time.

This is when you should also pay attention to the breathing technique. As you get near the wall, hold your breath to keep up the pace and velocity, but also you’ll keep your chin properly positioned.  Proper chin positioning is what makes the difference between a successful flip turn and an unsuccessful one. As you tuck your chin in, you’ll also keep your head low which will increase the power you’ll receive from the turn, your overall speed will be higher, and last but not least, this will prevent you from overrotating.

Once you reach the wall and you feel it on your hand, try to use the whole surface of your palm to gain the most possible traction, then pull your arm up. This will swing your body and your feet will be on the wall almost instantly thanks to all the momentum you’ve carried into the turn.

Now you should be on your back, and your feet should be touching the wall. With your feet touching the wall, simply push yourself away. Keep the arms up, above your head, extended to their maximum to give you additional aerodynamic and help you go through the water easier. The main difference between a backstroke flip turn and a freestyle flip turn is in rotation. While in a freestyle turn you’ll have to rotate to get back to your front. When doing a backstroke flip, skip rotating and simply move forward with your arms extended. Keep them extended until you notice the first signs of slowing up, then continue swimming normally.

A Backstroke Flip Turn Practice Tips

There are a few practice tips that will help you learn these unwritten backstroke turn rules easier and adopt them so you can fix your mistakes or simply improve your backstroke flip to improve your time.

Middle Pool Flipping

One of the best ways to learn how to perform a backstroke flip turn is to practice in the middle of the pool. Push away from the wall on your back and make at least six backstrokes, then turn and make one freestyle stroke that will get you rolled on your stomach, and follow by a single somersault. Practice this until you get used to the flipping feeling.

Keep Your Body Straight

One of the main beginner mistakes in the backstroke flip turn is swimming to the left or too right. To avoid going a bit curved, do your best to keep your body straight during your first turn to your stomach at the beginning of turning. As you start to dive, your shoulders should be flat on the top of the water. If your shoulders are a bit sideways, then you’d probably resurface that way.

Repeating Is Mother Of Success


The more you repeat, the easier it will become. Start with a middle pool flipping – six backstrokes, one freestyle stroke, somersault, and repeat. Do it until you notice you’ve started to do it automatically and with almost no effort. When it starts to feel natural, it is time to try it out on the wall of the pool.


Although you should do your best to keep your breath as you turn, there is still one thing you should practice as much as possible – exhaling through the nose. If you master this, you’ll know what to do to prevent the water from reaching into your nose and giving you one of the worst swimmer’s feelings you could feel.

Wall Flipping

Once you’ve mastered middle pool flipping, it is time to try it on the wall. You’ll have to learn the stroke count and how to turn from backstroke to freestyle easily. Now practice that stroke count and try to reach the wall with it. At the end of the count, do all the same as you’d do in the middle of the pool. At first, don’t push away but simply place your feet on the wall and try to modify if needed. This shouldn’t take long, a few repetitions and you should learn how to place your whole feet on the wall so you get the most out of your push.

Feet Too Near

If your feet end up being too near to the wall and you can’t form a 90-degree angle, your lower body will end up being too close to your heels. You’ll have to readjust your legs and wait until you get back to the ideal position, which could eventually lead to unnecessary loss of energy and rhythm, while you’ll also have to work way harder to achieve max speed. An additional problem with feet being too near is the chance to place them high on the wall, which could lead to diving way deeper than needed and wanted. If you can’t readjust your feet no matter how hard you try, then it is time to check if your stroke count is right.

Feet Too Far

Planting feet too far means you won’t place your whole feet on the wall, which will give you almost no power as you push off the wall and you’ll end up slowing down instead of speeding up. This also means you’ll have to hold your breath a bit longer if you try to readjust your feet, and eventually, feet too far can also mean they are too low, and you’ll push yourself up to the surface instead of spearing forward. If you constantly plant your feet too far, it means you’ll have to add extra strength to your kick or one more stroke, although this can place you too close to the wall. Try these two things and see which one works for the best.

How To Know Your Feet Are Right?

For the perfect foot placement, you’ll have to learn how to place your feet so your calf and your thigh form as close as to a 90-degree angle. The sense you get when you place your feet properly should be similar to one when you sit on a chair. This type of placement will result in an explosive start that will give you real power with almost no effort.

Time To Work The Full Turn

After you’ve learned how to calculate your distance and to count your strokes before you reach the wall and after you’ve mastered the turn to the point where you feel natural as you do it, it is time to try and do the whole flip. Swim to the wall, count your strokes, dive down and as you plant your feet, push off the wall. The goal is to keep your back parallel to the pool’s bottom. Repeat until you manage to do it, while also making sure you go straight. Remember, the more practice you put into this, the better you’ll become and you’ll feel more and more comfortable every time you enter the pool.

Backstroke To Breaststroke Turn

If you’re a competitive swimmer or you just love to switch between the different swimming styles to build strength, it is important to learn how to switch from backstroke to breaststroke with ease.

  1. As you head to the wall on your back, count your strokes, and make sure you know the distance to the wall.
  2. Unlike regular flip turn, for backstroke to breaststroke crossover turn, you’ll touch the wall on your back. The arm that’s on top should go over your nose and across your body, diagonally.
  3. Now it is time to rotate your body. You should be doing it laterally, touch the wall and push off it with your top arm while your knees are being drawn to your head to allow you faster flip and quicker leg push when they reach the wall. During official races, it is essential to touch the wall as you swim on your back, or else you’ll end up being disqualified.
  4. Push away using your legs, keep your arms extended as long as you don’t slow down, and continue swimming breaststroke.

Backstroke Turn Rules

Again, this is important for competitive swimmers. Different organizations can have different backstroke turn rules, so it is really important to inform yourself, especially if you’re a competitive beginner. Wrongly performed, flip turn can not only slow you down, but it can even lead to disqualification. That’s why you should ask officials or organizers for rule information so you can practice or change if there is something that needs to be changed. Make sure you follow all the rule changes and additional information to avoid any misunderstandings or problems. The vast majority of competitions are held under the FINA organization, so learning their rule book is a great way to start. Besides that, you can also ask for any possible changes in your local event, etc. Also, you should learn how to recover after swimming sessions.

Globo Surf Overview

A backstroke flip turn is one of the main and most important swimming turns. It may sound complicated at first, but as you practice, you’ll learn how to do it flawlessly so it will eventually start to feel completely natural. This article will help you learn and improve your flip turn technique so you can easily improve your technique, overall swimming results, and swimming health benefits.

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  1. How to Do a Flip Turn (Backstroke),
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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!