Kicking is one of those things that you feel you should spend time on because it would really make your stroke better.
You’re right. A good kick makes your body stable, allows you to rotate better, breathe easier, and carry momentum between strokes. For triathletes, knowing how to kick well makes it easier to have an efficient two beat kick, rather than one that slows you down.
But if doing laps with a kickboard sounds like torture or you just don’t go anywhere, you’re much better off doing short sets of vertical kicking and kicking on your back to improve your kick.
Kicking with a kickboard is much harder: not only it is more demanding of technique, it can be tough on your neck and lower back, and also promote bad technique by rewarding big splashers who kick mainly from the knee.
If you want to be able to swim with a kickboard, start with vertical kicking and you’ll get there much faster.
Below is a video clip outlining some first steps in getting started with improving your kick. Please leave your comments on Youtube and let us know if you found it helpful. If you did, click on the thumbs up button after watching. Thanks!
Change the settings to 720p to watch in HD for a better viewing experience.
Sample Practice Sets with Vertical Kicking
Here are some practices you can use to improve your kicking.
10 x 10-15 seconds of vertical kicking on [10 seconds of rest]
Focus: Play around with the different focus points from the video.
1. Hip Mobility: Move your thighs forward
2. Rubber joints: Keep your knees and ankles loose so you can snap them forward from the hip.
3. Good posture: engage your back and stomach muscles and stand tall in the water. Feel how that stabilizes your kicking and forces you to use your muscles differently.
4. Tempo: experiment with the tempo of your kick. If you kick too slowly, you will be relax, but your kick will not create enough pressure to push you higher up above the surface if that’s your eventual goal.
6 x 50m kick, kick, swim: 25m kick on your back, rest 5 secs, 10 seconds vertical kicking, rest 5 sec, swim 25m [then rest 10 seconds].
Focus: Make sure your legs recharge after all the kicking. This shouldn’t be a hard set to do. Keep your head in the water so you don’t have to kick hard enough to keep it out. Focus on technique, not muscle strength.
Pay attention to the swim back. Does your freestyle feel different? You should do a flutter kick for the first few, even if you prefer to swim with a two beat kick.
4 x 75m swim, kick, swim: 25m swim freestyle, rest 5 seconds, 10 seconds of vertical kicking with your chin out of the water, rest 5 seconds, then swim 50m free. Rest 10-15 seconds between each rep as needed.
Focus: Yep, this one’s a bit more demanding. But once you feel your kicking mechanics improve, trying to kick hard enough to raise your head out of the water is a great way to connect your kicking to the rest of your body and to see what you can do.
As you add effort, try to keep your posture long and tall, your hips and thighs moving, and your knees and ankles loose and flicking to the front of your body. Don’t let your running and cycling muscle memory take over!
Have fun in the deep end!