The kick plays such a fundamental part in swimming and will often differntiate a fast swimmer with the not-so-fast swimmers. I believe the kick plays such an important part if you are trying to improve your swimming that it is one of the fastest ways to see improvement.
Four important functions of the kick
- PROPULSION: Depending on the fitness and ankle flexibility a good kick will provide forward propulsion.
- LIFT: As the kick movement is up and down the kick creates lift and therefore improves body position on the water.
- BALANCE: The kick provides a key to keeping the body balanced and stabilised in the water. The kick also assists body roll.
- CONSISTENCY: A six beat kick provides a conistent level of propulsion, lift and balance to assist the body move through the water (kick six times for every cycle - a cycle is 2 arms strokes counting both arms
Note: Even though a wetsuit handles one of the primary functions (creating lift) during a triathlon or open water swim, a good kicker can still benefit from the other three functions.
How can I improve?
- Kick from the hip
- Toes pointed (ankle flexibility may influence this)
- Big toes brushing past each other (keep your legs quite close together)
- 6 Beat Kick - a good consistent kick
- Using a kick board (no fins) practice kicking off the wall keeping your hips up and following the tips below. If you lose the optimal position ie. you start kicking from your knee or you hips and thighs sink low the water - stand up and reset yourself and start again.
- Do the same as above but now remove the kickboard - get into a strong streamlined position and take a good breath before pushing off the wall and look for optimal form.
- Side on kicking (left and right side) - have your hips parallel to the wall and kick in a superman position down the pool ie. when you are kicking on your right side have your right arm stretched in front of you.
- Backstroke kick provides a fantastic way to ensure that you are kicking from your hip. If you knees are coming out of the water when you do this you need to try and strech your kick out and kick from the hip.
- Swim and kick with a kickboard squeezed between legs - this drill teachers you to keep your legs together for optimal kicking technique. It also encourages you to keep your legs stretched and toes pointed behind you. If you lose the board then reset yourself and try again. Remember to keep kicking! Once you have done this you need to then apply the drill to your swimming but remember to RELAX don't hold tension through your gluts or quads.
Learn more about Kick Technique
As you master the kick technique then you can progress your kick to a kick/swim drill which starts to help with body rotation.
- 10:1 Drill which means 10 kicks to 1 pull.
When you do the kick you should be right on your side like in drill #3 from above then on completing 10 kicks on one side drop your head down in the water and take one stroke and rotate to the other side. Take a breath immediatly at arriving on the other side and then place your mouth just under the water and slowly exhale your air. If you need to take another breathe just roll your head up slightly.
Remember if you try and hold your head up and out of the water your hips/legs will most likely drop deep in the water - by doing this you will have created a lot of drag.
Relax your head on the water and you will find this drill much easier.
Are you ready to kick on? Lets move on to Body Rotation!