Seems simple doesn't it? Well, it may not be as simple as you think. There are correct and incorrect ways to hold a standard kickboard. New swimmers may be tempted to grab the sides of their kick board with bent arms and push downward to try and achieve more buoyancy, this is wrong, don't do this. You'll find you can't do any substantial kicking/swimming like this anyway.
Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones with his Fastskin Kickboard.
World champions like Cullen would not have reached the level they're at without a helping hand from a kickboard along the way!
WHERE TO BEGIN?
To begin improving your kick through the use of a kickboard you'll want to place your hands on either side of the board securely, but don't be rigid. Just relax in the water, the more relaxed you are the easier it is for your kickboard to provide optimum buoyancy to your upper body, allowing you to keep a calm focus on your kicking. Keep your arms as straight as you can, this keeps you in the most hydrodynamic (streamlined) shape possible so that you won't be wasting energy kicking against extra resistance created by a slack body position.
Experiment with different hand positions along the sides of the kickboard, always keep your hands symmetrical but find the position that feels most comfortable for you and keeps your body position as horizontal as possible in the water. There are numerous designs of kickboard on the market. FINIS produce some top quality traditional style kick boards for adults and juniors. One of the most popular, and most beneficial for swimmers is the FINIS Alignment kickboard. This particular swimming float encourages a streamlined body position, avoids putting a strain on the neck and shoulders, plus it's highly versatile for more advanced swimming drills.
The FINIS alignment kickboard has a triangular shape and straps on the back for a secure grip. The strap opens up the option of swimming on your side with the kickboard held out in front by just one hand. This can help to develop effective side kicking technique which can be used to benefit your freestyle and backstroke. Both feature a rotational element which can be improved through the use of side kicking drills.
Holding your kickboard in an upright position, creates an intense amount of resistance, kicking against this resistance can be an extremely good workout for your lower body and is often performed as a training by drill more experienced swimmers. We DO NOT recommend this drill for novice swimmers as it is very intense and can easily leave you numb legged in the middle of a potentially busy pool!
USE YOUR PULLBUOY
For those of you that own a pull buoy, you can use it instead of a kickboard, the versatility of a pull buoy make it a very popular choice among swimmers. Simply hold the pull buoy out in front of you either on its side or upright, the ergonomic shape designed for your legs to fit into also make the pull buoy surprisingly comfortable to use as a kickboard.
You may even find some brands creating their own blend of Pull Buoy and Kickboard, aptly named, a Pull Kick! Speedo and Arena both have very popular pull kick's, which are the perfect tools to improve both stroke and kicking efficiency.
Try this set/drill at your next swimming session (to build leg strength & kicking technique).
The first part is focused on technique:
4 x 25 Streamline flutter kick with the Alignment Kickboard (Snorkel optional)
2 x 25 Side kick, right arm on Alignment Kickboard
2 x 25 Side kick, left arm on Alignment Kickboard
4 x 25 Freestyle Catch Up Drill with Alignment Kickboard
Then shift the focus to strength:
4 x 25 SPRINT Streamline flutter kick with the Alignment Kickboard, fast interval
2 x 25 SPRINT Streamline flutter kick with Alignment Kickboard, submerge the board to kick underwater for the first 20 flutter kicks
2 x 50 Freestyle, build
2 x 100 Freestyle, fast
TOTAL yards/meters: 750