How can I improve the efficiency of my kick in swimming?


Have you been wondering how to swim faster for months or even years without ever finding a satisfactory answer? If this is the case, well, you are in good company. This article describes six principles that will allow you to swim faster without becoming exhausted too quickly.

Swimming Smarter not Harder

For many coaches, swimming faster is the result of gradually increasing the length and intensity of swimming workouts so that the general fitness level increases.

While conditioning has its place, this is not all there is about swimming faster, because swimming is a very technical sport. There are a few gifted swimmers that instinctively learn how to move efficiently in the water. Given enough time and practice, they will always improve.

But most of us only have a vague sense about our efficiency in the water. Remember, we are land animals! Because of this, swimming lots of laps will often only make our bad habits more permanent, while our swimming...

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You have been wondering or everyone always tries to find, “How can I get faster, How to Improve Swimming Speed?” without ever finding a right answer? This article describes some principles that will allow you to swim faster without becoming exhausted too quickly. Below is a list of techniques and swimming tips that will help you to Improve swimming speed and faster and don’t require a ton of heavy lifting.

Swimmers are always looking for a way to get a little bit of an advantage over the competition. Take 5mins a Few Times Each Day to Improve Your Flexibility. Make a habit of breathing bilaterally. Compact and Efficient Kick Using Your Core

1-Swimmers are always looking for a way to get a little bit of an advantage over the competition.

Just imagine someone who barely understands front crawl or freestyle swimming. He used to swim every day with very detailed workouts with varying effort intervals mainly called a good structure of workout. Without any...

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In this post, I will discuss a few tips and tricks on how to improve your kick or how to make kicking more fun.

Let's start with the basics.
a.) Kicking without keybboard (kickboard :) thanks @4th Dwarf) is a must for majority of the kicking exercises. Advantages include: working on stabilizing body (your core), improving balance, easier on the shoulders and much more. If you have to use a kickboard, cut it in half, so it is small and makes you work. Finally, if kicking with kickboards - do flipturns with both of the arms staying on the kickboard. This will help you with your stomach and keeps you focused.

b.) Keep in mind that kicking on your back is much better for you due to the fact that you exercise the other side (back side) of the leg which equalizes the leg muscles (since most of your swimming is on your front).

c.) When using fins, it is best to use zoomers. If you do not have money for zoomers, simply cut off the tips of your fins to make a...

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short scrappy stroke technique? lacking stroke length?

See related articles: Rhythm, Timing and Stroke Rate and Dealing with a Slow Stroke Rate.

Your Stroke Rate is how many strokes you take in a minute, counting both arms. For example, 40 Strokes Per Minute (SPM) is a slow stroke rate, 80 SPM is a high stroke rate.

A High Stroke Rate

You should have arrived here from our Rhythm, Timing and Stroke Rate page. Perhaps you used the stroke rate chart on that page to identify that you have a high stroke rate for your swimming speed.

Since you have a high stroke rate for your speed it's very likely that your stroke technique is a little scrappy and you are not rolling enough in the water to develop a long stroke.

Here we're going to give you some tips to improve your swimming technique from the perspective of stroke rate. Slowing your stroke rate down in a controlled manner will give you more time to lengthen things out - it can really work...

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Foot size has nothing to do with your power. In freestyle, your kick power is a ton of your propulsion; it's not all about the pull. Two things might help here:

1a) Time yourself on 2 x 100's.

1b) Practice 4 x 100's or 200's w/ a kickboard, and really focus on the water displacement that happens as you kick. Basically, think about really "slapping" the surface of the water hard with each kick, from the knee down. This is going to make a LOT more noise and splash, and use a lot more muscle, so if you're doing it right, you'll really feel the burn in your thighs and legs, and probably tire quickly at first. Don't give in - keep the kick strong.

1c) After 4 x 100's or 200's focused kick, drop the kickboard and swim 4 x 100's freestyle - BUT stay focused on keeping the same strong kick propulsion, even after you integrate your arms. Time your 100's - you should see a difference! (And you'll probably be wiped out.)

2) Sprints - Sprints are one of the most exhausting...

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Do you opt to let your arms do most of the work in the water, consciously saving your legs for the bike and run still to come? Alan Rapley, swim consultant to the British Triathlon Federation, explains why it's better to focus on the efficiency of your kick….

The kick is the element most triathletes neglect in their swim training, but your legs are a major factor in all levels and types of performance and to not train them is a mistake.

Most people’s mindset is ‘I need to save my legs for the bike and the run, therefore I’ll just use my arms in the swim and drag the legs’. But you should change that thought process to: ‘the more efficient my leg kick is, the more effective I’ll be in the swim, saving my energy levels for the bike and run.’

Now I’m not saying you should use a six-beat kick throughout the whole race, but you should train yourself to have the ability to use a six beat if needed, to get out of trouble or change your tempo.

Your legs should...

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leg kick technique is often misunderstood by swimmers and triathletes

Triathletes - You're Not Looking For Propulsion

Kicking from side and rear.

Our swimming animation

Mr Smooth

demonstrates an effective 6-beat kick. Kick from the hip with a relatively straight leg.

Here at Swim Smooth we have a different viewpoint on kicking for amateur swimmers and triathletes.

This may come as a surprise, but you're not looking to get much or any propulsion from your leg kick. Elite freestyle swimmers with world class kicks only get a small fraction of their propulsion from their legs (about 10-15%). Most triathletes and amateur swimmers get next to no propulsion from their kick.

Our conclusion is that you shouldn't be looking to get propulsion from your kick. For most triathletes it's simply not realistic.

So, I ignore my kick?

No, far from it. You still need to work on your kick technique. That's because there's more to kicking...

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rik V said...

yesterday-evening an Arny of our squad performed the same drills you describe in your post and performed them perfect. However, when trying to repeat the good way of kicking with straight crawl, he failed doing so. Kicking as a sole excercice went fine but combinging the strokes seems to be too difficult ...

any suggestions ?

August 23, 2013 at 12:36 PM Jonas said...

Exactly. What rik V is referring to is the key to a good kick: coordination between arms and legs. Adam Young told me once that the kick in free style goes too fast to bother about coordination. I do not agree at all. Coordination is paramount, either if you swim fast or slow. I improved my coordination (and feel great now) thanks to "Mr Smooth" animation and Jono van Hazel's video. I recommend watching them for a well coordinated six beat kick. Kick technique in itself, as Annie explains here, is essential too but this lack of consideration to kick coordination by Swim Smooth is...

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Whether you're a sprint specialist, long-distance swimmer or triathlete, proper kicking techniques can greatly improve the efficiency of your freestyle stroke. Racing swimmers can generate substantial force with a good kick. Triathletes might want to "save" their legs for running and biking, but proper kicking form greatly reduces the underwater drag generated by their legs and helps to control their body position during the stroke. Regardless of your swimming specialty, improving your flutter kick will enhance your speed in the freestyle stroke.

Improve your ankle flexibility for a stronger kick. Much of the propulsive force of your kick is generated by the top of your foot pushing against the water. The more range of motion you have in your ankle and lower foot, the more powerful your kick. Swimmers with the strongest kicks can point their feet directly in line with the their lower legs -- a 90-degree angle to the normal position of...

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This article describes the technique of the flutter kick in the front crawl stroke. It also covers common mistakes, kicking rhythms and some tips to improve your technique.

To get started, let’s have a look at a video that shows the freestyle kick in action during the men’s 1500 final at the 2004 Olympics:

As you can see in the swimming video above, the flutter kick is a simple and efficient kick used while swimming freestyle. Basically, both legs are kept parallel and quickly flutter up and down with toes pointed.

Flutter Kick Roles

The first role of the flutter kick is to provide propulsion. It is a fact that world class swimmers have a powerful kick. So it is clear that the kick has its importance in fast swimming. However, it might be less than you think. In fact, studies have shown that the amount of propulsion provided by the kick in elite swimmers is only about 10%. The rest of propulsion is provided by the arm stroke.

The second role of...

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By Mat Luebbers

Updated August 23, 2016.

Swimmers usually want to swim fast or swim more efficiently at some point. To swim fast means swimming a set distance in less time once in a while. Swimming more efficiently means swimming a workout or a race distance in the same amount of time but at a lower energy cost. To swim fast, either swim a distance faster or swim that distance with the same speed but using less energy... and then there is the "I want it all" swimmer. They want to swim fast and swim efficiently; that could happen, too, and will in the best case.

The Swim Fast Equation?

What is your number-one goal? What distance or event do you want to conquer? There are many reasons why swimmers want to improve speed, whether it's for a faster 100-meter or better open-water time at their next triathlon. Whatever the goal, you can't argue with science to improve your swimming speed and efficiency.

Maximizing forward speed.

How to do...

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