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CoachTy
December 4th, 2008, 06:04 PM
Here is one of the most inefficient things taught or not focused on when learning to swim. When coaching I usually watch some of the swim lessons going on. Here is what I hear and see…”Kick, kick, kick, kick”. That’s all is said. In reality you don’t want to just kick like kicking a soccer ball (without any other kicking reference what do we know otherwise?). When you kick, your legs should be straight, feet pointed, and toes relaxed. Your legs should be springy and visualize them being connected into the body not just at the hips. Also, when you kick it shouldn’t just be with one side of your leg. You are missing a huge piece of propulsion and not using the strongest muscles in the body. Kick with both sides of your legs, up and down. Also, feel the water all around you legs and try to make it thicker feeling. When kicking the rhythm should always be even. Don’t let a larger kick slip into the rhythm. Keep the kick small and fast.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!


-Coach Ty http://swimworkoutsonline.com (http://swimworkoutsonline.com/)

nhc
December 5th, 2008, 12:33 AM
What you say makes a lot of sense to me these days especially in backstroke. It's important to feel the legs and the torso are a whole, so that the kicking will bring balanced movements of the whole body, like a log. I have found that a good way to "feel the water" and keep even rhythm is to have my eyes closed.

Gil
December 5th, 2008, 04:25 PM
Excellent. I found the phrase "make the water feel thicker around you" to be very helpful in improving my flutter kick.

KaizenSwimmer
December 5th, 2008, 07:05 PM
Sound advice, Ty. Here are a few more thoughts on kicking, in random order:
1) Be conscious of drag-effects before propulsion-effects. I.E. Focus on how streamlined your legs are throughout the kick cycle before you focus on how you use them to create propulsion. When teaching the flutter, for instance, I ask my students to think about how the legs feel when holding a moderate (not tense) streamline and to start the kick as an "active streamline." Clearly the greatest opportunity for reducing drag in the kick will be in Brst, but that deserves a thread of its own.
2) In flutter, focus on "tuning" the kick. It's easy to overkick when sprinting, which will often create more commotion than locomotion at far greater energy cost. Blend the kick seamlessly within the whole stroke. For coaches, a good visual cue of a well-tuned flutter is that you're not particularly aware of it while watching your swimmer from poolside; the whole stroke appears in harmony. This becomes more and more critical as distance increases.
3) In training, resist what Howard Firby called "Arms Department/Legs Department" thinking. Don't train them separately. Instead give emphasis to integrating them as fully as possible -- which will also encourage you to make optimal use of the core.
4) To get the "thick water" feeling that Ty describes, start a length with a strong flutter underwater. Hold that sensation upon surfacing to begin swimming.

knelson
December 6th, 2008, 12:29 AM
It finally hit me your thread title is a take off on "Legs" by ZZ Top. I'm a little slow, I guess :)

And, no, I really don't, but I'm trying! Improving my kick is something I've been working on this season.

Redbird Alum
December 8th, 2008, 01:36 PM
Okay, so here's a question.... (yes, about legs...)

I was swimming my workout (solo) last week and a gentlemen in the next lane told me that he like everything about my stroke with the exception that my knees were not "locked", which allowed my legs to bend during the kick.

I thanked him politely, and tried to explain that some fluidity would be necessary, which caused him to get somewhat huffy, at which point he told me that (back) when he taught swimming in the Navy, the rule was lock and load.

So, any advice on this advice? :confused:

pwolf66
December 8th, 2008, 02:11 PM
Well, there should be no more than about 10-20 degree maximum flex at the knee when flutter kicking in freestyle. Any less (i.e locked) and you limit the power provided from the quads and hamstrings and any more (dreaded dropped knee) and you also kill the power from the upper legs AND you cause a lot more drag than desired. That's my take.

funkyfish
December 8th, 2008, 10:54 PM
Okay, so here's a question.... (yes, about legs...)

I was swimming my workout (solo) last week and a gentlemen in the next lane told me that he like everything about my stroke with the exception that my knees were not "locked", which allowed my legs to bend during the kick.

I thanked him politely, and tried to explain that some fluidity would be necessary, which caused him to get somewhat huffy, at which point he told me that (back) when he taught swimming in the Navy, the rule was lock and load.

So, any advice on this advice? :confused:

It seems to me that it's important to not have "sloppy knees" that would wind up creating drag as you swim, but having "locked" knees implies that energy is being wasted through superfluous contracting of the leg muscles in order to keep them "locked." I've tried to apply what I do with dolphin kicking to my flutter kicking in that the kicking starts with the torso/hips and works it way down. I feel that I actually keep my knees a bit loose and do try to focus on "thick water." I like the analogy of being "whip-like," and I think it applies to both flutter and dolphin kicking.

Random cake emoticon :cake:

Syd
December 8th, 2008, 11:39 PM
Okay here's another question.

I like the description of thick water. It makes a lot of sense to me. But my kicking is still my weak link. I just know if I could incorporate my legs effectively into my stroke, I could see significant time drops.

Here's the problem. It is okay as long as I am going slow or medium pace, but as soon as I start to sprint, my legs pop out of the water and that feeling of 'thick water' disappears entirely. It is fine as long as I stay swimming at a rate of 29 seconds (plus) per 50m. The minute I try to go below 29 for a sprint, the legs pop out and all connection is lost. And I mean all. There seems to be no power coming from my legs in a sprint. I feel no connection there at all. They feel like they are just thrashing about and kicking up white water.

I'm not sure if it is because my head is too low. When I sprint, it is with my head looking directly down, shoulders quite square and not much rotation of either the hips or the shoulders.

I have always been a weak kicker. I struggle to kick a 50 with a board in under 55 seconds. But I have been working on it (admittedly on and off) for the past year and it has improved. I feel like I am getting there but still have a way to go. It is not fully integrated into my stroke yet. It is only there in flashes. When I am tired, or not concentrating, I lose it. I think this is where swimming a lot of yardage might help. It might not necessarily make you a faster swimmer because of the fitness derived from the yardage. It might be that through spending a lot of time in the water you have learned how to integrate that kick and swim efficiently. I never really swam a lot as a kid, was only an average swimmer and stopped swimming at the age of sixteen. I would say I have learned more in the past year and a half than I did swimming as a kid.

My belated question then (if you have read this far): how do I keep those legs from popping up. What should my area of focus be?

Syd

Redbird Alum
December 9th, 2008, 12:38 PM
Pwolf & Funky -

Thanks for the feedback. It's along the lines of what I've always believed.

Syd -

My word of advice is "relax" on that sprint. Why lock your head and shoulders/hips? It is completely unnatural to the whole idea of the long-axis nature of freestyle, eliminates a lot of leverage in the pull, and works against your streamlining.

Keep the roll, albeit perhaps not as much, and relax your head a bit and let it feel more natural to you. I think that may help keep your hips/legs down a bit and give you more bite in the water back there.

aqualung
December 9th, 2008, 02:39 PM
Anybody have any opinions about flutter kick? two-beat, two-beat-crossover, four-beat & six-beat?
For the life of me, I can not do a four-beat.

aqualung
December 9th, 2008, 02:47 PM
but as soon as I start to sprint, my legs pop out of the water

This sounds weird. Perhaps your body is going into some weird banana orientation. The back should not be arched. Suck the abs in. Otherwise, for most people, the problem is that the legs are sinking and cause a lot of extra drag. The legs need to be high, but not rise. The goal is that they be in-line with the rest of the body.
Second, are you rolling? Freestyle should spend very little time flat on the tummy. Kicking is mostly sideways really.
Get some alignment drills in.
(1) do the kicking drills with no kick board. practice stretching the neck and extending the head in line. practice getting the kick in-line with the rolling motions. face should be pointing in the same direction as the belly button. resist looking up, down or sideways. kickboards make you look up. if necessary, but the kickboard in half and keep the face in the water.
(2) try some vertical kicking drills. cross the arms over the chest and make the body straight. flutter kick to keep the head above the water. make the entire body quiet and still except for the legs in this exercise. do this until the body stays in place.

Syd
December 9th, 2008, 07:25 PM
Thanks for the advice Redbird and Aqualung. Some good food for thought. Learning how to relax in the water is definitely high on my list of priorities. The other day one of the lifeguards at the pool said to me that if I relaxed more I would swim faster. I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

I also like the advice of keeping my face pointing in the same direction as my belly button. That gives me something to focus on. It is exactly this kind of advice I am seeking as I am self coached and swim on my own and very rarely receive unsolicited advice.

Syd

norascats
December 9th, 2008, 07:47 PM
Get some alignment drills in.
(1) do the kicking drills with no kick board. practice stretching the neck and extending the head in line. practice getting the kick in-line with the rolling motions. face should be pointing in the same direction as the belly button. resist looking up, down or sideways. kickboards make you look up. if necessary, but the kickboard in half and keep the face in the water.
(2) try some vertical kicking drills. cross the arms over the chest and make the body straight. flutter kick to keep the head above the water. make the entire body quiet and still except for the legs in this exercise. do this until the body stays in place.[/quote]


I have to second this. I do a lot of kicking drills by rotating. My kick is at it's strongest at about a 45 degree angle. I get 125 kicks to 25 yards. I'm trying to get it below 100.