Kicking is anything but overrated. As some of you have already learned, I believe that it is the power of the kick that separates the great swimmers from the not-so-great ones, more than anything else. But here is the problem.
First, even if you have strong legs but have little or no flexibility in the ankles or have smaller feet, becoming a strong kicker is a longer-term project. You can get the flexibility you need to improve your kick by doing some of the dryland stretches shown on our latest Race Club DVD, Life is Worth Swimming. You then have to really work your legs in practice.
A six beat kick can potentially serve four functions;
- provide propulsion (laws of motion)
- provide lift (reduce frontal drag)
- act as part of the stabilizing force for your pull (increase distance per stroke) and
- sustain a more constant speed (obey the law of inertia).
If you can’t kick fast, you aren’t going to get much propulsion from your legs, but that is okay because a lot of propulsion comes from the arms. You can, however, even with a weaker kick or a 2-beat kick, still get lift and counter-force for your arm pull…both very worthwhile. So don’t give up on the kick. If you wear a wetsuit in open water, you don’t have to worry about the lift part, but you still need the counter-force to improve your distance per stroke.
A two beat kick can still provide that counter force you need and give you some lift…and with a lot less energy expense; not a bad way to go for a distance swimmer who can’t kick fast or a triathlete that wants to save the legs.
So here is my advice to you. Unless you absolutely have no kick at all, work your legs hard….like devote every 4th or 5th practice to pure leg workout. That’s how much the I have to stress the importance of kicking in swimming. And, unless you have no propulsion, always use a 6 beat kick. Getting your legs in really good shape will pay big dividends in your racing. Sorry, no more social kicking.
In fact, the best way to improve your kick technique and practice your streamline at the same time is by using the Finis alignment board, coupled with the Finis snorkel. The combination creates great body position for kicking and gets you more accustomed to being in a streamlined position. At The Race Club, all of our board kicking is done this way; flutter, dolphin or breaststroke kick.
I am such a big fan of kicking, I took an old, but good song, It’s in His Kiss and changed the lyrics a bit and renamed the song, It’s in his Kick. One of our Race Club families from Buffalo NY came down to the Keys to learn to swim and kick faster. I told them about the song, so they went home and recorded it. Hope you enjoy it.
Yours in Swimming,
The Race Club