Kicking for front crawl might seem like something you should do as an after-thought, but it can really make the difference to the progression of your technique.
Particularly for novices or beginners learning front crawl, your kick is vitally important to helping you improve your overall front crawl stroke. The main aim of your front crawl kick is to balance your arm strokes.
So what are the five ways for you to improve your kick? A highly skilled swimmer would perform as follows:
Kick from hips and glutes with a slight bend on the upstroke
Legs as straight as possible with big toes almost touching
Floppy ankles with feet doing the movement up and down motion
Heels lapping under the surface of the water
Feet kicking no more than 30 cm in depth
In triathlon you don't want to kick too much, i.e. as a propulsive kick, except at the start of an open water mass start swim or bridging a gap in open water. We recommend a 2-beat kick, i.e. 2 kicks to one arm cycle.
As a novice your kicking may bear resemblance to one or more of the following characteristics:
Knees bending and coming forwards
Knees bending backwards towards 90 degrees
Scissor kicking out to the side
A parachute kick whereby both legs go out laterally then back in together
A runner’s kick - moving too fast with stiff legs whilst bent
Kicking too deep - greater than 30 cm
Kicking too fast
Knee (s) bending out laterally like a breast stroke kick and back in
If you're doing any of the above, then your kick will be holding you back. We have seen many swimmers kicking and not moving, or even going backwards. This is because they're trying to move forwards, yet their legs are bending and pulling water backwards in the opposite direction.
Ideally you want to be swimming in a streamlined position as high in the water as possible, to reduce drag and resistance! If you think of the analogy of a barge travelling through water, it’s very slow as it must displace a lot of water. A speedboat cuts through the water much better, as it rides much higher and is much more streamlined from the 'V' shape of its hull.
In the following videos you can the swimmer performing swim drills that could also help you to improve your technique:
Side kick both arms by side
Prone side to side kick
If you need to improve your kick and found this blog article of interest then please get in touch. We'd love to help you on your swimming journey, to achieve your swimming and triathlon goals!
Sign up to an Swim Video Analysis and Stroke Correction Lesson, based at an endless pool in Chertsey:
Email Nick on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07958 635142
Video of Haydn Woolley