It is the action of the arms and body that provides 85-90% of your propulsion in the water when swimming freestyle (front crawl). So why work on kicking then? Well for some that 10-15% might make the difference between reaching your season goal e.g. lowering your 750m swim time by ‘X’ amount, or not reaching it. For others it may help your freestyle technique in ways you did not expect. For example reducing the ‘scissor kick’ that happens every time you take a breath that results in increased drag, slowing you down and reducing your ability to breathe effectively.
So how does an effective kick help your freestyle and therefore your swim section of a triathlon? Here is what the coaches from Swim Smooth have to say:
- An effective kick will lift your legs in the water helping you maintain an ideal body position.
- An effective kick will reduce drag in the water.
- The timing of an effective kick will assist body roll rather than hinder it.
- An effective kick will result in lower energy expenditure during the swim.
What will give you an effective kick then? Here is what the coaches from Swim Smooth have to say:
- Kick from the hip. There is some movement at the knee during kicking but the movement should be ‘driven’ by the hip. The knee flexes (bends) slightly during the down stroke and extends (straightens) during the up stroke. This occurs because the knee is relaxed but the hip is doing all the hard work.
- Point your toes. By plantar flexing your feet and ankles (pointing your toes) you are turning your foot into a something resembling a flipper creating positive propulsion.
- Ankle flexibility is important. Without it you will not be able to point your toes effectively. Working on ankle flexibility will therefore help to improve your kick.
- The key to good timing is that when the hand enters the water at the front of the stroke, the opposite leg should kick. Timing is an advanced skill and novice swimmers should focus on points 1-3 before getting too concerned about timing.
Fins are very useful for helping develop and effective kick. Remember to bring yours along on Saturday! Tim (LFTC Coach)