Using your legs in swimming is really important to making sure you get a well-rounded work out and don’t make life too difficult on your arms! It’s a common problem in a lot of casual swimmers to see heads bobbing out of the water and the legs trailing under the water, heading for the bottom. There are some simple things you can practice to improve your swimming kick and help to make your time in the pool a little more effective.
There are two key elements to your swimming kick – technique and timing. Both, combined rhythmically, produce the desired result.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that your swimming kick, not only helps to propel you forward, but also helps to keep you afloat. This sounds weird, huh? But think about it – in every swimming stroke – lets take front crawl for instance – there is a point at which your arms are not producing any power (usually at the point where one arm is out of the water and the other is nearly finishing a pull stroke) – and it is at this point, where your leg kick, keeps you afloat in the water.
If we stick with front crawl as an example, here are a couple of tips for improving your technique:
– Point those toes! Pointing your feet aware from the direction of travel (trust me, some people don’t)
– Flex those ankles, the power in the kick comes from the kick, through the knees and into the ankles – your knees should be flexing up and down and not backwards and forwards
Some drills you can practice:
– Use a swimming kick board to practice your kicking – hold this in front of you with two arms, have your elbows just touching the water. Keep your eyes looking forward, but with your face low in the water. Practice your kicking in short sharp bursts. 10 kicks fast, 10 kicks slow. You’ll likely feel some burn in your thighs. Splash should be coming out the back of your feet – not from around your knees or ankles.
If you feel your kicking technique is good, but want to improve your power, using a kick board really does help as it completely isolates the legs and allows you to work on technique and power in just your legs. There are a lot of drills to practice. Try several lengths for improving stamina and endurance. Short sharp burst of power will help to improve speed.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your kick in the pool! It will make your life a lot easier!