How to float on your back?

5th January 2019

How to do a star float on your back!

Today’s blog will outline 5 simple steps to teach your child how to float on their back: an introduction to a lifesaving skill.

Teaching your child how to perform a fully functional backwards star float is an immensely useful skill when learning how to swim. Not only is it a key stepping stone to undertaking important life-saving swimming techniques, but it is a great introduction for any child when coming to grips with the concept of buoyancy and how to float in a swimming pool with minimal effort.

Why is it important to learn how to float?

As always, we at Swim Specialist can never fully put into words how passionate we are about spreading the message of how vital it is that our younger generation learn the importance of swimming.

The ability to float underwater is potentially one of, if not the most, important building blocks to solidifying a base of skills that makes a strong and competent swimmer.

How do we start?

Following from our last blog, '6 easy swimming steps to get your child's face underwater!' we will be continuing with our set-challenge format, as we believe this simple technique allows your child to gradually tackle simple achievable goals leading up to the final goal.

Although we are targeting todays brief for ages 4 years and over these techniques can be used at any age and will work, when applied correctly, for all groups.

Today's agenda will be the 5 easy steps to teach your child the backwards star float. Before we begin let us briefly cover todays essential skills.

Key Skills of Today:

Eyes up

Focus should always be directed upwards and towards the ceiling for perfect orientation whilst in the swimming pool.

Ears under water

To perform a perfect back float, it is essential to retain a perfect position. Ensuring your child's ears remain underwater will stabilise their spatial awareness.

Arms and legs spread

The wider your child can spread their arms and legs the easier it will be to keep stable and buoyant.

Still like a statue

When performing the backwards star float, stillness is the door to success and this can only be achieved by relaxing.


Directing your body upwards to keep it afloat can be achieved best by using your hips as a compass.


This isn't the first time we have encountered breathing and it won't be the last. The more air we have in our lungs the easier it is to float as air is lighter than water!

Now we have covered the essential skills in learning how to float let's begin!

Challenge 1

Our first challenge today is all about acquainting yourselves with the backwards star float position and will introduce you to some key skills. Your child will be using 2 float disks on either arm with the support of a pool noodle or 'woggle float' to support their back.

The method here is to get your child fully used to the kinaesthetic feeling of the back float but with the full safety and support of our mechanical aids.

Allow them to get use to floating on their back and remember two of our key tips: eyes up and ears in the water.

Challenge 2

In our next challenge we are focusing on two more of our highlighted key skills: arms and legs spread as wide as possible and pushing your body upwards nice and flat.

To do this your child should use two woggle floats as handle bars one on either arm for extra support.

This will begin to increase the student's reliance on their own back support, which will really prepare them for our next challenge.

Challenge 3

No more woggle floats - only disks.

That's right, this section may be a bit of a challenge but the main aim here is to progress.

Two disks should still be used on either arm this time. As long as your child holds true to the key skills challenge 3 is easily achievable.

Begin this challenge in an upright position and gently help your child lay back into the star float position after taking a steady deep breath.

To ensure full relaxation the students are encouraged to focus on:
- Spread arms and legs as wide as possible.
- Push hips up and keep body flat.
- Still like a statue.

And finally, the most important tip: Relax!

Challenge 4

Sticking to the theme of progression, the 3 challenges that we have completed should have your child feeling fully accustomed to the idea of increasing the difficulty as the challenges go on.

This penultimate challenge is about using only one disk float on each arm instead of two, this shouldn't be hard at all and by the end your child will be fully capable to complete the final challenge.

Simply follow all the essential keys, as in challenge 3, word-for-word.

Challenge 5

Finally challenge 5 has arrived!

By now it is clear the final stage is all about completing the star float without any additional help from float disks or pool-woggles.

It may seem daunting and maybe that's because it is. However, challenges 1-4 are everything that is needed for this mountain to become a molehill.

Ten seconds again is the goal.

Support your child for this final challenge, at least for the first attempt, to keep their confidence fully intact. The movement should start with in an upright position followed by a deep, gentle breath in.

Slowly support them into the float position. Gradually let go and begin the ten second count down.

Relaxing really is the key here. The gradual build-up to this final skill should ensure good confidence, but the assurance of assistance by you or our swimming coach should leave the student feeling fully calm.

It is paramount to avoid tensing and excessive movement. Any issues can easily be provided in the form of feedback which should be implemented when your child is eventually ready to attempt the backwards star float completely independently.

Once they have completed the backwards star float fully on their own, feel free to gradually increase the hold time for the float over ten seconds. The more practice the better.


We have reached the end of the 6-step challenge to mastering the backwards float.

This skill will be carried on for the rest of your child's life. It is a simple but essential skill to be perfumed underwater and can be really handy in a tight spot.

Thank you again for tuning in to your Swim Specialist blog!

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