PDA

View Full Version : Going faster without kicking?



swimBRCT
November 7th, 2011, 10:01 PM
Tried an interesting set tonight... did 10 50 frees on 45 seconds without kicking, just pulling.

I've always been a poor freestyle kicker, but I didn't expect the following result... I was going just as fast as I would be WITH a kick for that rate of turnover (35/34s), but with much less effort.

I found myself doing a bit more body rotation, I felt greater connectivity from my arms all the way down to my toes. I also found myself doing a deep straightarm catch (as opposed to my usual high elbow with the elbow withing a couple inches of the surface)... wasn't really trying to do something different, it just happened and I went with it.

Has anyone else had a similar experience when they removed their kick from their freestyle? Does anyone have any idea about how to train my kick so it can contribute more effectively?

I have a hunch that my kick may actually be counterproductive when I get tired, in that it doesn't help me go forward or gives a very poor return for the effort I put in... so maybe learning to freestyle kick in a way that syncs with my body rotation would be a way to start. (Not sure how to do that though, so ideas for learning rotation rhythm would be welcomed too.)

Thanks in advance!

Gator
November 7th, 2011, 11:15 PM
Welcome to my world! I have the most awful kick. I had been working on a ton of kicking drills but nothing has helped. I would love an event where they would tie your ankles together, and you could only pull!

I'll be reading this thread with great interest.

robertsrobson
November 8th, 2011, 03:51 AM
Mine is also rubbish, but I do find that I keep a consistent kick and I can't imagine being better with no kick at all, unless we're talking major distance (which I don't do!).

Debugger
November 8th, 2011, 10:07 AM
Mine is also rubbish, but I do find that I keep a consistent kick and I can't imagine being better with no kick at all, unless we're talking major distance (which I don't do!).
Same here. I found out that my kick is more efficient when I do a 2-beat kick rather than 6-beat - my DPS is definitely better with 2 beats. But that's for workouts. Never tried smth like that during any event. (Sure, during events I mainly swim breaststroke :D)

The Fortress
November 8th, 2011, 10:47 AM
No idea why one would only want to use half the body to swim ...

If you have time to work on your kick and are motivated to improve, check out: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=5818&highlight=flutter+kick

swimBRCT
November 8th, 2011, 03:15 PM
No idea why one would only want to use half the body to swim ...

If you have time to work on your kick and are motivated to improve, check out: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=5818&highlight=flutter+kick

Yeah, given a choice I would totally want my legs to be helping out. The odd discovery is that they were not helping me out at all when I was swimming... so if they're not *adding* to my arm power, wouldn't I want to save my energy for my upper body/rotation?

Not sure how much plantarflexion (toe pointing) is needed to have a kick that propels you forward... when I sit down and point my toes as much as I can on the wall, the plane of my foot is in line with my shins... so my toe is about 4.5 inches up from the floor.

Like debugger, I'm mainly a breaststroker... my feet are naturally rotated outwards when I'm standing. SO might outwards oriented feet slow down a freestyle kick? When I think about it more maybe when I kick down then the water goes to the side instead of down or back... maybe I should try turning my feet inwards (pigeon toed).


That said, this is during practice. IN races, I kick like crazy and my legs are definitely helping me then. But there's very little synchronization going on, it's basically kick as fast as I can with emphasis on the downbeats, and keep a steady rhythm with the arms. The problem is I don' t have the energy to sprint kick during workouts for all my swimming...

Fortress, thanks for the suggestion. I'll try doing a couple all-out kicks this afternoon.

Gator, you speak of kicking "drills". Care to share any of these drills? I hadn't really thought about "drilling" kick before. I don't isolate components of the kick, I just isolate the entire kick with a kickboard (but maybe that's what I should try too.)

knelson
November 8th, 2011, 03:25 PM
Tried an interesting set tonight... did 10 50 frees on 45 seconds without kicking, just pulling.

Were you using a pull buoy or not? If you were using a buoy this isn't all that surprising, but if you were not then it is.

geochuck
November 8th, 2011, 03:39 PM
I am also a believer of limited kicking, I see many swimmers who kick hard and they are not getting faster just wasting energy. Try it you may surprise yourself. Use the big motor (arms) not the little motor (legs). The legs are not part of the body they are just an attachment.
No idea why one would only want to use half the body to swim ...

If you have time to work on your kick and are motivated to improve, check out: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=5818&highlight=flutter+kick

swimBRCT
November 8th, 2011, 04:21 PM
Were you using a pull buoy or not? If you were using a buoy this isn't all that surprising, but if you were not then it is.

No pull buoy. Just 1 foot braced over the other.

I think I have decent horizontal body position... regardless of your opinion about Total immersion's teaching methods, I believe Terry has the right idea with his head and head lead balance drills. That said I have always had a lot of trouble properly integrating the kick with the body rotation.

Note that when I removed my kick I found it easier to maintain a tight line from arm to toe, I was rotating more dramatically than usual and getting a sort of "inertial windmill" stroke... where the entry of 1 arm going in helped out the finish of the pull of the other arm. I tried to do this when I put my kick back in, but I couldn't rotate as much when I was doing kicking. Not sure what that means.

I breathed my normal amount (every 4 strokes) but was significantly less tired than when I had my kick going too.

I urge anyone who's read this to try doing a couple 50s or 25s of freestyle where you remove your kick, and focus on keeping your body line nice and straight, and try a little more rotation than usual, and see what happens.

Note I am not advocating eliminating kicking altogether (not really advocating anything for that matter)... the key thing here is that my kick didn't seem to be contributing significantly to my speed and may even have been inhibiting rotation. So I'm looking to develop a kick that will complement rather than inhibit my body rotation... which doesn't necessarily involve getting a more forceful kick. Anyone have any synchronizing kick timing drills/ideas?

geochuck
November 8th, 2011, 04:31 PM
TI is not for everybody. Head position can control leg position. Some who bury their head too deep the legs come out of the water. I cannot keep my legs in the water if my head is not slightly tipped up. It is not an everybody thing. I have even watched video of Terry swimming and have seen his head slightly tipped up.

The Fortress
November 8th, 2011, 04:37 PM
Use the big motor (arms) not the little motor (legs). The legs are not part of the body they are just an attachment.

I'd be perfectly happy if everyone thought this way. :) Better for me since my legs are not just leg tassels! And last I checked the quads & glutes were two of the biggest and strongest muscles in the body.

knelson
November 8th, 2011, 04:51 PM
I wonder if maybe the amplitude of your kick is too big? I think lots of people with poor kicks use the kick more for balance than for propulsion. In your case maybe your legs are getting out the streamline of your body and acting as brakes.

swimBRCT
November 8th, 2011, 04:52 PM
I'd be perfectly happy if everyone thought this way. :) Better for me since my legs are not just leg tassels! And last I checked the quads & glutes were two of the biggest and strongest muscles in the body.

That said, the legs are not as efficient at translating force into forward movement... the arms can be oriented perpendicular to the plane of movement , whereas the feet cannot. The surface area of the arms/hands is also significantly larger than that of one's feet. I would like to engage my shins into my "leg catch area" as well, but they don't seem flat enough to be useful for catching water in freestyle + you'd have to bend your knees a lot to catch increase the surface area that's oriented backwards. (though Michael phelps bends his knees tremendously for his sprint butterfly events, almost 90 degrees!!)

Geochuck, good point. I mentioned TI to indicate that I've been working on body position... high hips won't help you out if the consequence is that your feet are too high to catch any water! Personal buoyancy / shape distribution definitely leads to different optimal body positions.

That said, the big/little engine thing... I guess the ideal "big engine" is the hips/core that coaches love to talk about... tap into the shifting of my bodyweight for an inertial stroke! I'd like to learn to connect the "big engine" to BOTH my legs and my arms.

I guess what I'm sort of realizing is that the "big engine" is the body rotation... and that when I usually arms and legs I'm connected to my rotation in a mediocre way, but when I nix the kick, suddenly I'm able to connect my rotation to my arms much more easily.

geochuck
November 8th, 2011, 04:59 PM
Butt, butt, I prefer the lats. and upper body. Not the lower extremitties.

The Fortress
November 8th, 2011, 05:28 PM
That said, the legs are not as efficient at translating force into forward movement...

Really? My underwater dolphin kick is about as fast as my sprint freestyle.

If you're using your legs just for balance, you're missing out on an opportunity to swim faster. Now if there is a physical issue, e.g., inflexible ankles, then that's more of a problem, though you can work on ankle flexibility.

Chris Stevenson
November 8th, 2011, 05:41 PM
the arms can be oriented perpendicular to the plane of movement , whereas the feet cannot.

I don't know, if your ankles are flexible enough then can come pretty close. Have you ever seen UW videos of Phelps kicking? His feet are flopping around like fins.

I found this one of me, and I'm old and inflexible (with tiny feet) compared to Phelps:

http://forums.usms.org/album.php?albumid=70&pictureid=2038

swimBRCT
November 8th, 2011, 05:48 PM
Really? My underwater dolphin kick is about as fast as my sprint freestyle.

If you're using your legs just for balance, you're missing out on an opportunity to swim faster. Now if there is a physical issue, e.g., inflexible ankles, then that's more of a problem, though you can work on ankle flexibility.

Good point. however, underwater dolphin kick is faster than freestyle kick for a lot of reasons... dolphin kick utilizes the core muscles and you have a larger propulsive "fin" to work with when you're using both feet at once. Dolphining underwater is different than swimming on the surface because you can be torpedo shaped the whole time so you're not morphing into various non-aquadynamic shapes with every stroke... also wave drag underwater is a squared function of speed whereas it's a cubic function on the surface.

Also, I'm assuming that part of the speed comes from pushing off the wall. This isn't dolphin kick from a dead float (feel free to correct me)

I agree that I'm missing out on an opportunity... I just have my doubts its due to weak muscles, I think I might have a connectivity with rotation/timing issue.

Thanks for the phelps video Chris S... I've heard that the best kickers can let their feet flop around and if you trace their toes they make little circles (on the transverse plane)

geochuck
November 8th, 2011, 05:52 PM
Hey Fort why not swim your crawl and use the dolphin kick instead of a flutter kick after the 15 yard mark.
Really? My underwater dolphin kick is about as fast as my sprint freestyle.

If you're using your legs just for balance, you're missing out on an opportunity to swim faster. Now if there is a physical issue, e.g., inflexible ankles, then that's more of a problem, though you can work on ankle flexibility.

The Fortress
November 8th, 2011, 06:47 PM
Hey Fort why not swim your crawl and use the dolphin kick instead of a flutter kick after the 15 yard mark.

Never done that George. But I assure you I'm not just using my legs for balance when I sprint freestyle or backstroke. I can flutter kick too. :)

Look, kicking is hard and doesn't happen overnight. It's a long term project, and most people don't feel like dedicating the time to it. I can understand that if they'd prefer to use their training time otherwise. But let's not pretend that a fast flutter kick isn't important.

sarahmswims
November 8th, 2011, 09:19 PM
to the OP: perhaps when you hooked your ankles you also tightened your core to hold that position. That would explain the increased power to your stroke (with a tight core you pull against the entire lever of your body, instead of just the shoulders /upper torso). Ideally when you swim free - you have a tight core that sustains a good position AND you kick to add propulsion (in this, timing is quite important, to sync up the power portion of your pull with your tightest/strongest position to pull against - which is definitely affected by your leg position/kick timing).

swimBRCT
November 8th, 2011, 10:18 PM
to the OP: perhaps when you hooked your ankles you also tightened your core to hold that position. That would explain the increased power to your stroke (with a tight core you pull against the entire lever of your body, instead of just the shoulders /upper torso). Ideally when you swim free - you have a tight core that sustains a good position AND you kick to add propulsion (in this, timing is quite important, to sync up the power portion of your pull with your tightest/strongest position to pull against - which is definitely affected by your leg position/kick timing).

@Fortress... I totally agree that kicking is important, I am just looking for ways to get my kick to be propulsive as in my current stroke it appears to be counterproductive. Do you have any favorite drills/specific suggestions for working on kick timing?

I am wary of just focusing on kicking with more force or at a hire tempo... if I'm out of sync with my body rotation, then strengthening/going faster won't increase connectivity, I'll be going faster but continuing with poor form.

On the note of dolphin kick, I heard that Michael Klim switched to dolphin kick in the last 10 meters of his 100 free leg on the 4 x 100 relay in either Sydney or Athens, I forgot, If someone knows where I could find a clip of that race it would be fantastic. I heard he did it to maintain inertia by keeping his body line tight as he tired.

@Chris, I looked at your picture again... I haven't seen any freestyle kickers with that degree of knee flexion when they kick freestyle. (Then again I haven't been examining too many still frames of swimmers, so it might happen somewhere!) If the foot isn't oriented backwards I don't know how that foot is pushing you forwards.... as I understand it you go forwards by pushing in the opposite direction from which you want to go. Kicking straight down ought to lift your body up, so I see the legs as a hip-raising/balance tool if one can't get the foot oriented somewhat backwards... (toes pointing somewhat towards the water surface when you're on you're stomach)

@Sarah, thanks for your input! I actually didn't "cross" my feet directly over one another because I tried that on the first lap and found it left me unbalanced and unable to rotate properly. I had my right toe gently pushing against my left toe, my legs were isometrically contracted. But that's a great point... presumably the back of my body was more tapered than when I do my usual kick. I already think about kicking in a tunnel where my feet don't go too deep, but maybe that tunnel isn't narrow enough.... I'll think about kicking in a "tighter circle" tomorrow and see if that changes anything.

To the strong/coordinated kickers out there.. what do you do to coordinate your kicking with your pulling? Are some kicks stronger/of a bigger amplitude than others? (even if you don't consider yourself a strong kicker I'd love to hear your ideas.)

(IE is your strongest kick happening at the beginning, middle, or end of the pull? Do you have "sync points" where you match up your top and bottom halfs, IE you start your rotation to the left with a right downbeat while your left arm is recovering? Or think of flexing your core during the middle of your pull?)

The Fortress
November 9th, 2011, 11:18 AM
@Fortress... I totally agree that kicking is important, I am just looking for ways to get my kick to be propulsive as in my current stroke it appears to be counterproductive. Do you have any favorite drills/specific suggestions for working on kick timing?

I am wary of just focusing on kicking with more force or at a hire tempo... if I'm out of sync with my body rotation, then strengthening/going faster won't increase connectivity, I'll be going faster but continuing with poor form.



I don't really consider myself a freestyler, so I don't spend much training time on "syncing" or "connectivity" of my kick, whatever that means. (You might consult the TI forum for that.) However, one drill that may be beneficial is sets of 25s "overkick free." On these, you sustain a very strong kick. You start out with a slow turnover and gradually increase turnover by 25s while maintaining the same kick.

smontanaro
November 9th, 2011, 02:46 PM
I was reminded (or reminded myself) of something a coach told me a couple years ago. When you breakout from your streamline, get your kick going first, then your arms. It seems to help me, especially with that feeling of connectedness. My theory is that it's easier to get your arms to synchronize with your legs than the other way around.

Just a thought...