Back Float with Board – Lap or Ledge
The first step is to teach children to hold the board correctly. The easiest way to do this is using parental or teacher demonstrations. Then give the child an opportunity to practice. Notice the position of the hands in the middle of the board.
The second step is to teach children to back float while on a shallow ledge or lap. In this instance children feel comfortable and supported and do not get that common feeling of falling. Maintaining eye contact with the child will assist with the correct head position.
Back Floating with Board – Open Water
Once children are totally comfortable on the ledge or lap, you can slowly pull them into open water. In the initial stages, parents or teachers should be there to support the child. Support the child by; placing hands under the shoulder blades and thumbs on top, lean over and look them in the eye.
Once the child is relaxed you can give them independence by moving and alternating hands from the child’s back up to the child’s head.
Do this very slowly with only the fingertips supporting the child. By using a slow and gentle action we relax the child and minimally assist them to free float. Remember; always maintain eye contact with the child.
Once the parent or teacher observes a relaxed and confident child it is time for unassisted board floats. Slowly let go of the child, lean over and look them in the eye. Always be there to support the child if necessary.
Back Float – Ledge
Advancing the skill to independently floating without a board requires us to use the same teaching progressions. We should always start with floats on a lap or shallow ledge. Instruct the child “arms out, head back, tummy up”. Eye contact assists with the head position.
Back Float – Open Water
If the child is resisting by trying to sit up, or any other method, do not attempt back floating in open water. Continue practice of lap floats and floating with a board until the child becomes comfortable. With practise the child will become relaxed.
Once again, always use progressive teaching methods. Start by slowly taking the child into open water. Make them feel relaxed by maintaining eye contact. Give them independence by moving and alternating the hands from the child’s back to the child’s head. Do this very slowly with only the fingertips supporting the child. Pretty soon the child will be floating independently. Most importantly, if you build the skills the child will float comfortably.
Back floating has receive a lot of attention is recent years, with some suggesting that teaching back floating will drown proof babies.