General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Fixing my kick Rss Feed  
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2013-03-03 3:11 PM

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Subject: Fixing my kick
I was sharing a lane with an experienced (and very fast) swimmer today who critiqued my form. He said I am bending my knees too much and not kicking from the hip, which is inefficient and causing me to over rotate. What drills or techniques would be useful to do to help fix this? More kick board and fun drills?


2013-03-03 5:02 PM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick

Avoid using fins, there is a tendency to kick from your knees when using fins, bigger are worse.

One drill that may be "fun" is to kick vertical: Hold your arms straight over your head, streamlining and kick as hard as you can keeping your head out of the water, say 30sec reps. 

There is a strange mechanism that if you straighten up your upper body you also stretch legs and feet. And contrary whenever you forget to streamline, you relax the entire back and it just goes down and you'll start kicking form the knees. A kick  board may provoke that if you rest our arms on it. OK, I'm making that up, but that's what I feel happens.

2013-03-03 7:28 PM
in reply to: #4644552

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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick
Small is better. Its almost difficult to kick with your knees when you're kicking small. (I say almost because its definitely possible and isn't easy to get out of the habit)
2013-03-03 11:37 PM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick
erik.norgaard - 2013-03-03 4:02 PM

Avoid using fins, there is a tendency to kick from your knees when using fins, bigger are worse.

One drill that may be "fun" is to kick vertical: Hold your arms straight over your head, streamlining and kick as hard as you can keeping your head out of the water, say 30sec reps. 

There is a strange mechanism that if you straighten up your upper body you also stretch legs and feet. And contrary whenever you forget to streamline, you relax the entire back and it just goes down and you'll start kicking form the knees. A kick  board may provoke that if you rest our arms on it. OK, I'm making that up, but that's what I feel happens.



In general I agree, avoid using them. Except when they can help you learn how to move your legs.

Most people kicking from the knee are also burdened by the horrible sensation that the kick isn't moving them anywhere, so they kick harder and just stir up more water.

By adding fins BRIEFLY, you can actually start to move some water and it will allow you to slow down the frequency and amplitude of the kick so you can feel the correct movements of the legs. Taking off the fins will cause you to move much slower, but alternate back and forth between the movements with the fins...feeling how a long slow gentle kick can help you move forward with fins (that ad surface area), then minimize that fin kick as much as possible. Then take them off trying to replicate the movements.

It's not perfect and there are people who will just keep kicking from the knee even with fins, but it's worth a try to see if they help.

Another variation on the vertical kicking is to do it with the minimal kick needed to keep your face clear and breath. Add difficulty by rasing your hands, then arms out of the water gradually. This way you get to dial in the amount of kick you need and just bring your arms back in the water to increase total body buoyancy.

I also agree with the above that a stretch from the arms & upper back will also help you engage yoru legs more fully. too relaxed in the upper body causes saggy knees in the water as if you're sitting in a chair still.

Learn to activate the glutes and let the upper thighs move past each other while kicking and feel a gentle stretch in the anterior hip (hip flexor area) to start to engage the legs the way a swimmer should.
2013-03-04 5:35 AM
in reply to: #4644463

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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick
I'm not a swimmer, but isn't this what the kick board is for?  it sure demonstrates my swim sucks as doing 200 yds w/the kickboard is humbling.  i thought it was a tool to learn how to develop a more efficient kick
2013-03-04 10:48 AM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick
lakeview - 2013-03-04 4:35 AM

I'm not a swimmer, but isn't this what the kick board is for?  it sure demonstrates my swim sucks as doing 200 yds w/the kickboard is humbling.  i thought it was a tool to learn how to develop a more efficient kick


Sounds like it's a tool to tell you your kick sucks. If I use a tool in the water (kickboard, pullbouy, paddle, snorkel) I use it to give me immediate feedback on whether my form is improved or not...or to give me feedback to help my improve my movements in the water. Not many pool tools can do that on their own. An objective viewpoint (video or coach), hands on feedback, standing rehearsals, etc...all help imprint and identify better movement patterns.


Edited by AdventureBear 2013-03-04 10:50 AM


2013-03-04 11:21 AM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick

Not trying to hijack this thread, but can I ask a semi-related question to the OPers?  My kick isn't that good either and i'm also working on mine (btw, no love-hate with the kick board, just hate), but how much should triathletes be worried about the kick?

I'm under the impression that the kick in the swim leg should be kept to a semi-minimum to save strength and energy for the bike and run.  I know a proper kick helps with form and that is important, but is the kick supposed to help propel forward or is it more to keep drag to a minimum?

2013-03-04 11:32 AM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick
LarchmontTri - 2013-03-04 10:21 AM

Not trying to hijack this thread, but can I ask a semi-related question to the OPers?  My kick isn't that good either and i'm also working on mine (btw, no love-hate with the kick board, just hate), but how much should triathletes be worried about the kick?

I'm under the impression that the kick in the swim leg should be kept to a semi-minimum to save strength and energy for the bike and run.  I know a proper kick helps with form and that is important, but is the kick supposed to help propel forward or is it more to keep drag to a minimum?



A proper kick first and foremost should help connect the WHOLE BODY front and back with right side, left side alternating movements.

In doing this the kick will also provide some 'lift' for people with heavy legs, but the actual amount of lift needed is incredibly small, even for the densest people.

Once the previous two elements have been established, you can start htinking about using the kick to add forward movement as well in the form of a 6 beat kick.
2013-03-04 3:17 PM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick
I'm using a 4-beat kick after much experimentation with my previous swim coach. I know my form was starting to fall apart by 3000m as I was starting to fade. I will try these suggestions for working on my kick. I do a minimal kick as it is, having come from over kicking to compensate for dropping my hips and dragging my legs. Thanks for the suggestions, still learning a lot.
2013-03-04 10:51 PM
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Subject: RE: Fixing my kick

AdventureBear - 2013-03-04 9:32 AM A proper kick first and foremost should help connect the WHOLE BODY front and back with right side, left side alternating movements.

I'm no swim coach but definitely agree with this one.

Also, I think for most triathletes with a distinct runners' kick will benefit more just by keeping the legs tight and streamlined rather than kicking due to decreased drag. I don't think most triathletes who are beginner swimmers get much propulsion from their kick anyways.

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