How To Properly Do B-skip Drill (Paw Back)? (Step-by-Step)

Matea Matošević, Olympic Runner
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Would you like to learn B-skip?

In this article, I will explain how to properly do B-skip and I will answer the frequently asked questions.

how to do b-skip

What is B-skip (paw-back)?

B-skip (paw-back) is a running drill used for warming up and for improving running technique. It teaches to raise knees and to grip the surface properly while running. It improves coordination, the flexibility of hamstrings, and it widens the range of hip and ankle movements.

How to do B-skip (paw-back) properly?

How to do B-Skip Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your left leg to hip-height while skipping on the ball of your right foot.
  3. Explosively grab the ground with your left leg so that ball of your foot hits the ground below your center of mass, standing on both of your feet.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the B-skip your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing B-skip (paw-back) properly

  • Focus on the leg grab going below you, not on kicking your leg forward (the leg will stretch automatically as you do the movement).
  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Avoid rotating your body, focus your motions towards the direction you are moving in.
  • Find your own rhythm, while coordinating your arms and legs.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

It is important to focus on the proper execution of the B-skip. If you are not able to maintain proper form, you will ruin your running technique, thus increasing the risk of injury. Start with slower movements and gradually accelerate until you find your own rhythm. Maintain control of your movements throughout the drill.

If you are not sure whether you are doing B-skip properly, it is advisable to do it while being watched by the coach. If that is not an option, then ask another runner to observe you or record yourself so that you can see whether you are performing the exercise properly.

Read more: Top 8 Running Drills To Improve Your Form [Video]

How to learn B-skip (paw-back)?

B-skip, like all other running drills, requires skill and is not easy to master. Be persistent as you learn.

B-skip is an exercise that requires a high degree of coordination and movement control. Before you start doing B-skip you should learn simpler drills such as high knee march and A-skip. Those drills teach you to maintain proper posture, raise your knees, and they improve your arm to leg coordination.

High knee march and A-skip are drills that use the same knee-raising movement but are different from B-skip due to the way the leg hits the ground. During high knee march and A-skip the leg moves straight towards the ground, while during B-skip you activate the hamstrings to execute a grabbing motion and pull the leg below you.

How to do the high knee march properly?

How to do High Knee March Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Step with your left foot by raising your knee to hip-height while standing on your right leg.
  3. Lower your left foot below your center of mass.
  4. Raise your right foot and repeat the movement.
  5. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the high knee march your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

How to do A-skip properly?

How to do A-Skip Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your left leg to hip-height while skipping on the ball of your right foot.
  3. Hit the ground below your center of mass with the ball of your left foot and stand on both feet.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the A-skip your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

What muscles does B-skip (paw-back) target?

B-skip activates more than one muscle group. B-skip targets the following muscles:

  • Hamstring
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • Quadriceps
  • Calf muscles
  • Tibialis anterior
  • Core muscles
how to do paw-back

B-skip (paw-back) benefits

Besides being part of a warm-up routine before more intensive training or races, B-skip also has other benefits.

Improves running technique

B-skip is a drill that teaches you to grab the ground properly by explosively pulling your leg below you. The grabbing motion is often neglected among runners, which leads to overstriding.

When you overstride, you hit the ground in front of you, which increases the restoring force and slows you down. To maintain speed, you then have to spend more energy than you would if you were using proper stroke technique. Since there is no slowdown you will also increase your running cadence (number of steps in a minute).

Research has shown that increasing cadence by 10% reduces the stress on your knees by 5%. This reduces the risk of usual runner injuries, such as hip or knee injuries.

B-skip also teaches you the proper foot position during a run. The foot should be bent towards the shin, in the position of dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion enables the activation of calf muscles. As you hit the ground the calf muscles will contract, allowing you to hit the ground with more force.

Improves neuromuscular effectiveness

B-skip improves communication between nerves and muscles by quickening nerve impulses that send signals to muscle fibers. As a result, your muscles will have better coordination in more intensive training or race.

Strengthens and stretches leg, hip flexor, and core muscles

B-skip allows you to control running movements by strengthening hip flexor, core, and leg muscles.

B-skip activates your hamstrings and your gluteus muscles, which allows you to grab the ground with more force. By strengthening these muscles your run becomes faster and more efficient.

Hip flexors allow you to raise your knees to your chest as well as bend your upper body forward. Numerous runners stretch their flexors while forgetting that they need to be strengthened as well.

Research has shown that weaker hip flexor muscles lead to injury. Injuries happen not only because we forget to strengthen our hip flexors, but also because we weaken them and shorten them through everyday actions.

A strong core is key for controlling running movements. It ensures the force from the swings of your arms is properly transferred to your legs, thus improving your running economy.

Strengthens feet muscles

B-skip teaches you to run on the balls of your feet that reduce the time you are in contact with the ground, thus increasing your speed.

In 2007 scientists from the Ryukoku University in Japan have set up a high-tech camera on the 15-kilometer-section of the half marathon and used it to record 283 runners. Research has shown that an average midfoot striker spends 183 milliseconds in contact with the ground, while an average heel striker spends 200 milliseconds in contact with the ground. Shorter time of contact results in a faster run and higher running economy.

how to do b-skip

How and when to include B-skip (paw-back) in your training?

B-skip is a running drill used in warm-up routines before more intensive training or races. Also, you can use it after an easy jog, when you are not as tired, so you could focus on the proper execution of the exercise.

B-skip can be done by moving forward 20 to 40 meters and then resting as you walk back to your starting position.

Example of a warm-up routine before interval training (15 x 400m)

1. Easy jogging (10 minutes)
2. Mobility exercises and dynamic stretches (6 minutes)
3. Running drills – 2 x 40m A-skip, 2 x 40m B-skip, 2 x 40m high knees
4. Strides – 3 x 60m

Read more: Warm-up Before Running [Ultimate Guide]

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Matea Matošević
Matea Matošević
Article by:
Matea Matošević

Hi, I’m Matea! I’m Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…