Improve Front Crawl Kicking

Effective kicking when front crawl swimming

The swim kick
On land our leg muscles are the most powerful while in the water they are used very little.
Depending on the length of the swim will dictate how much you use your legs, a six beat kick for short distances and one beat for every complete right and left
The large muscles use up a lot of energy
If the foot flexes less than 90 degrees you need to bend at the knees but theses causes too much drag. For this type of person avoid kicking at all costs instead just shallow kick.
As you develop and improve your kick you may get cramping of the foot or calf as you stretch these muscles more.

People over 20 who have taken up swimming for triathlon or triathletes who cycle and run need to improve their ankle flexibility to help with theiir leg kick

For people who have taken up swimming from 20 years of age need you need a kick for stability and avoid the body from rolling too much when breathing.

Drill swimming improves your balance and kicking.

Kicking during swimming should aim to accomplish balance and the swim kick should lift your legs up for higher body position.

You can improve kicking first with a kick board then use a smaller kick board then swim without a kick board in the super man position

Wrong timing stops smooth rotation – Can be seen by a snake like movement.
Too deep and slow increases drag
Scissor kicking often caused by many imbalances including turning the head too much and the kick then becomes deeper to balance out the body.

Improved kicking reduces drag and minimises the energy required to move forward.

Good kicking improves body position and makes you more streamlined.

Most triathletes don't have effective kicking.
Make your kick more effective will reduce the effort required to swim and boost your speed by reducing your drag

My simple easy to answer questions help you decide what you need to do.
Question: Are you able to point your toes when you are lying on your back.
When swimming on your back kicking, do you go very slow or even go backwards?
Answer: If yes improve ankle flexibility
Question: Are you much slower than your competitors when completing kicking only or swim drills? (
Answer: If yes drills require good kicking style)

Question: Did you run for many years before taking up swimming?
Answer: If yes you probably have inflexible ankles

Question: If you use fins/ flippers do you go only slightly faster?
Answer: If yes you are again kicking from the knees.

If all of the above was Yes you have a runners kick.

Here’s what you need to do

Upright  kicking
You need to learn to kick in an upright vertical position
In water deep enough so you cannot touch the bottom.
Hold onto the side cross your arms and kick with toes pointed and chin above the water.
The propulsions and power should come from your quadriceps and hips if you kick from your knees you are likely to find it very hard then fatigue and sink.
Aim for 3-5 repetitions of 15 seconds increasing to 20 seconds after 3 sessions.
This will improve hip flexibility.
Swim kicking using fins/flippers, the shorter types are best to improve correct leg kicking for swimming.

Improve flexibility or maintain it in older athletes by using flippers
(Warning -some swimming pools do not allow you to use them)

Our hip muscles are much larger and more powerful than knees shins and feet so use them.
Great kicking starts in the hips, then the power builds and flows down your legs: hips, thighs, knees, shin, feet; hips, thighs, knees, shins, feet.
Land exercises
Sitting at a desk or in the bath raise your leg out in front and improve flexibility by drawing an imaginary 360 degrees with first the left then right ankle.
Repeat 3 times left and right ankles.

Sitting on your feet for 30 -90 seconds at a time can improve your ankle flexibility.
In a sitting position put one leg out in front and push your toes towards the ground, this is a good stretch to improve flexibility. Practise this 2-3 times several times a day.
Sit on the floor legs apart place right foot over left foot and press down for 5-8 seconds then repeat left foot over right foot and press down for 5-8 seconds.
Repeat 1-2 times every other day to improve feet flexibility.

Mistakes that cause a weak or poor kick during front crawl
Lifting your head too much – Aim to press chest into the water this will raise the legs.
Spending too much time breathing with each stroke will cause problems with the feet.
A common error is to bend the knee even more to bring the feet higher to the surface.
Not kicking form the hips causes a weak kick-
Avoid your kick that is deeper than the width of your body, if it is then your legs will cause downward drag and create resistance and a low of speed and an increase in effort.

When we are swimming it’s like being on a tight rope and every action needs to cause a reaction to balance us in the water.

Knees tight but not too rigid ankles relaxed and as loose as possible
Toes pointed like a ballerina and flutter kick.
Aim for a 2 – 4 or 6 kicks per stroke.
Arms breathing and kicking should all be smooth movements. If it does not feel smooth then correct.
Flexibility reduces injuries and allows a relaxed kicking action from your hips to your toes.
Being streamlined is your priority.
Think long (legs) and pointed toes helps a lot.
Take quick tiny breaths –longer breaths raise the head too much or for too long and then cause kicking problems.
Imagine you are trying to kick slippers off
’Rhythm is vital the same number of kicks per stroke not 1 kick the first stroke then 2 kicks second stroke. Think of a favorite tune it may help.
The key to fast swimming and fast kicking is to stay loose and relaxed. Hard kicking takes up a lot of unnecessary energy, learn to be relaxed when kicking.
Try to keep your legs as long as possible (not kinked) as often as possible in the water. Point your toes-but without tension-and stretch your toes toward the wall behind you with each kick.
Work on flexibility once twice three times a every day and don’t forget the feet.
Improve Swim Kicking workouts
4 x 25m kicking with our without fins/flippers take 45 seconds
4 x 25m swimming with fins/flippers take 30 seconds rest
Repeat the above during each warm up and warm down every time you swim.

Mark is crossed the finsih line in over 400 triathlons and is a 30 times Iron distance finisher , for coaching and training tips log onto