Kick sets might form an integral part of your early season training. Sadly, though, many swimmers and coaches fall into the trap of letting them fade as the weeks roll on in favour of other routines. But whether you’re a regional swimmer or a national competitor, now is the time to start paying greater attention to your freestyle kick. Get this right, and the competition will be left behind.
Let’s take a closer look at how to master those kicks once and for all.
Why Develop A Stronger Freestyle Kick?
Frankly, the statistics show that a strong freestyle kick is the hallmark of a winner. The world’s elite athletes (and we’re talking Olympic swimmers here) all share this quality, which is why it often separates the best from rest.
A stronger freestyle kick sets the tone for your entire stroke, aiding both position and power. Moreover, it can be a crucial factor as muscles tire towards the end of a race. For sprint swimmers, in particular, perfecting this part of the performance is key.
Top Tips To Develop The Perfect Freestyle Kick
As with developing any part of your swimming performance, dedication and repetition are vital. With regards specifically to building the muscles and technique for freestyle kicks, here are five areas of focus:
Build stronger ankles: Having weak ankles is a common problem for swimmers as the majority of physical activity is completed in the water. Incorporate skipping or resistance training on land for a low-impact solution to aid ankle strength and overall lower leg power. In turn, those freestyle kicks will gain increased stability for greater technique and propulsion.
Build flexible ankles: In addition to stronger ankles, the best swimmers pay attention to gaining increased flexibility. Ankle rockers and ankle rotations are the best exercises to achieve this. As a result, you’ll be able to extend the ankle to a vertical position far quicker, pushing back more water in the process.
Think about the upward movement: Many swimmers concentrate solely on the downward stroke of the kick, using the upward stroke as recovery. Use vertical kicking routines to gain a more balanced kick. While you’ll never gain a 100% balanced kick, improvements in this part of the performance will work wonders for momentum in the water.
Kick back, not down: For top speeds, you want to glide through the water rather than against it. As is the case with the arms, gaining that early vertical position is pivotal. Spend time focusing on the technique. This will prevent the problems caused from overemphasising the knee extension. When water is pushed back rather than down, your speed will increase.
Drive well: Having spent driving your arm movements from the right places, it’s vital to do the same with kicks. Drive from the hips to gain full momentum, and use whip motion ankle kicks to get the very best results. With efficient kicks at your disposal, you’ll move through the water far quicker and have more energy for the big finish.
What we love about the alignment kickboard so much is that it's not just a kickboard, this kickboard has been specially designed to maintain optimum body alignment and lengthen body position. As well as the alignment benefits, it is still a kickboard, allow you to focus your workout on the lower body, thus improving your kicking strength and technique. Shop our range of kickboards here.
Adding a snorkel to your kit will help you improve your kicking twice as fast. By removing the concern for breathing, the focus can be shifted solely onto kicking. Teaming a snorkel with a kickboard is a great exercise for trying to improve your freestyle kick. The Focus snorkel from Micahel Phelps has a unique low profile design and a streamlined shape that helps reduce drag. Shop our range of snorkels here.
The use of training fins is a very common site in pools all over the world. Building strength, stamina and flexibility is just as vital as the correct technique. The Speedo BioFUSE training fins are a compact and comfortable training fin that will drastically help you improve your lower body power and technique. Shop our range of fins here.
Initially people are almost afraid of using a swim parachute like the Drag & Fly from FINIS, however, the benefits of swimming with a level of resistance can work wonders for your power and technique. The Drag & Fly is unique as it offers a level of adjustability, meaning you can work your way up to its maximum resistance. Shop our range of resistance training aids here.
Above all else, remember that continued practice is the key. Put the hours of hard work in, and it will pay dividends.