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Kick technique tips by Fred Vergnoux

Read about the small change to your kick technique that could revolutionise your swimming speed and power, with award-winning elite coach Fred Vergnoux’s insider pro tips – as revealed in this week’s blog entry.

Why take time to improve your kick? From an efficiency point of view, a good kick technique allows you to go as fast as you can without using too much energy. With a bad kicking technique, you expend a lot of energy just to move slowly. Result – you get tired, you struggle and it’s not very enjoyable.

To improve your kick technique, aim to make one small change this week from the suggestions below:

Kick from your core and your glutes

Kicking doesn’t come from the foot or from the knee – it comes from the core and from your glutes, so really focus on this when you swim. Kicking crazily with your feet doesn’t work, but it will tire you out. Think about a footballer; they don’t kick with just their knee and their foot, but from a big range of motion that comes from the abdominals and is extended through the whole body with the kick itself just at the end.

Work on your ankle flexibility

Ankle flexibility is one of the most important elements of your kick – if you can’t flex your foot well or bend your ankle, you’re going to struggle. You don’t want to have the perfect streamlined head, body, legs and then – boom – the wrong foot position, as this can create a lot of resistance and drag. What you do want is to have both feet in line with your legs, and ankle flexibility can help you achieve this.

Try this exercise to test your ankle flexibility and gauge your improvement as you work on it:

Sit on the floor, with your legs stretched flat in front of you, and point your toes, flexing your ankle as far as you can. My top swimmers can touch the soles of their feet on the floor doing this. Use this weekly as a test, or you can incorporate it into your warm up.

Add fins to your workout/drills

A great way to improve your kick is by using with fins, which make it easier from a technical point of view. They also help make your swim more efficient. Plus wearing them is going to feel good because they increase your speed, which is useful for performing challenges and technique work.

Breaststroke – be aware of your foot positioning

When swimming breaststroke, your feet should face outwards (in line with your shoulders), not forward. During the kick they should kick backwards and downwards, so the soles of your feet are almost facing each other. Keep this in mind when you work on your kick.

Freestyle – keep kicking!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a sprinter, a distance swimmer, or a fitness swimmer, you need to kick continuously during freestyle to swim efficiently. Yes, work on your pulling technique separately, that’s fine, but when you swim you need to keep kicking!

Speedo Tip: When you bend your knee during freestyle, you don’t want to bend it too much – the size of the angle of the bend should be around the size of a foot.

Freestyle – kick on your back

Swim freestyle? Kicking on your back is a good drill for improving your kick technique and your fitness. Because of the change in body position, it’s a little bit more challenging and it engages more muscles.

Use a kickboard (but not all the time)

A kickboard can help you focus on your lower body during your kick sets and drills by supporting your upper body. It can be a great addition to your training. However, when swimming breaststroke in particular, the kickboard can lead you to drop your hips and move out of an efficient body position, so if you’re a breaststroke swimmer don’t use it for every kick session.

Speedo tip: Watch our user guide on how to use a kickboard, here.

Summary of the week

  • Kick from your core and your glutes to ensure an effective, powerful kick.

  • Work on your ankle flexibility – it will help you improve your kick range and strength.

  • Use fins during your drills for speed and power.

  • Next week… Learn how a small change to your core stability could help step up your swim.

Missed last week? Read Fred’s blog on training aids here.

Hungry for more kick technique tips? Watch our quick how-to videos for easy-to-follow advice and demonstrations on achieving a solid kick technique when swimming freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.