Kicking for Freestyle

author : Tri Swim Coach
comments : 0

Get Flash to see this player.

Video Problems?

(Above Video is the 'Vertical Kicking' Drill

By Kevin Koskella
www.triswimcoach.com

"For distance swimming like the swim that comes at the beginning of a triathlon, kicking in freestyle only gives you about 10-15% of your total propulsion in the water. Therefore, you might think that kicking is not an important aspect of your stroke, and you don’t need to worry about it much."

Not true!

It is true that you don't need a super kick to have a great race or a great swim in a triathlon. Sprint freestyle specialists need a strong kick, but trying to imitate someone swimming a 50 or 100-yard freestyle event during your triathlon swim will put you into oxygen depletion!

Your kick is mainly for stability and body rotation. However, not having a kick or kicking improperly can lead to using twice as much energy to get through your swim! And nobody wants to get on their bike feeling drained and knowing that they still have a lot of work to be done. Let’s address these two challenges and see what can be done to remedy them:

1st Challenge: Having No Kick. While it is important to save both your legs and enough energy for biking and running, not kicking will not help you achieve this. You need to develop a kick that works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all with kicking, but it should be relatively rhythmic. In other words, work on developing a 2-beat, 3-beat, or even a 4-beat kick (2, 3, or 4 kicks for every stroke). A good drill to practice this rhythmic kick is 6 Kicks Per Stroke- exaggerating the number of kicks with each rotation.

2nd Challenge: Kicking Improperly. This is a common problem among many triathletes who have “Runners’ Kick”. What this really means is inflexible ankles, which create drag and force you to do a lot more work than necessary to get through the swim. There are 3 remedies to overcome Runner’s Kick:

  1. Vertical Kicking drill. Find water that is deep enough for you to kick in place. Let go of the wall, cross your arms, and kick in place in a vertical position (keep in a straight line), pointing your toes and keeping your chin above the surface of the water. Get your power from your quads and hips on this drill. Try 20 seconds at a time.
     
  2. Use fins. Not to "keep up" in workouts, but to actually improve your kick. IF you have ankle flexibility issues, use fins for a few weeks, but wean off them as you get closer to your event. The shorter kind are best. I prefer Zoomers, but other brands may work okay as well. Fins can increase your ankle flexibility, allow you to do swimming drills with ease, and strengthen the right leg muscles you need to kick (improving on that 10-15%!)
     
  3. Stretch your ankles. You can try sitting on your feet, or in a seated position, take one leg and bring it out in front of you. Extend your feet and push your toes toward the ground. Hold for about 15-20 seconds, repeat with other foot. You can do this several times a day.

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to use a kick board to improve your kick. For distance swimming and triathlons, you are wasting your time with the flotation devices!

Stick with the drills, work on a rhythmic kick, have patience, and you will be pleased with your swimming results!


About the Author

Kevin coaches masters and triathlete swimmers in San Diego, CA. He operates the website www.TriSwimCoach.com, a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. Kevin has also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” which is sold on his website in downloadable form.

Article Downloads
Vertical Kicking (122 downloads)

Rating

Click on star to vote
28222 Total Views  |  103 Views last 30 days  |  36 Views last 7 days
date: October 4, 2006

Author


Tri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

Author

avatarTri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

View all 100 articles
 

    From the forums