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View Full Version : Was Anyone Else Born Without A Kick?



ForceDJ
February 26th, 2015, 02:58 PM
I've never asked this since becoming more active in these forums. Maybe someone can explain it. Why don't I have a kick? I'm 54, been swimming for about 30 years. Never on a team, nor even coached. I got into it for two reasons...so that I could compete in triathlons and other long-distance open water swims, and to improve my times for my fitness tests when I was on active duty in the Navy. And I'm pretty much just a crawl-stroker. Not much of a need for swimming the other strokes. I like to think that for never being coached that I've done OK for myself. I can still swim 500 free in around 6:30 or less, and if conditions are just right I can do a (statute mile/1600meters) in 25:00 and change (in my 20s and 30s I was a little faster). I said "never coached" but throughout my Navy career at various duty stations I occasionally encountered other military swimmers who were significantly accomplished swimmers...including a few NCAA Div I All Americans...whose brain I'd pick and they'd give me pointers. Without fail, they would always say that for never being coached I had a pretty good (crawl) stroke. But the one thing that no one could ever figure out is why my kick doesn't work. I've tried to improve it over the years to no avail. But I mean it takes me 50-55 seconds to go 25 meters and it's pretty tiring. It's so weak that at one pool I swan in until a few years ago...the filtration system return nozzles were strong enough to push me sideways into the lane line when using a kickboard (embarrassing!). So I only kick enough to keep good body position in the water. For what it's worth...same thing happens on backstroke, and those occasions I swim butterfly. I have size 13 feet -- natural fins/flippers. Still, the little kids in the swim lesson lane have a better kick than I do. So...does this phenomenon happen to anyone else? Can anyone say why?

Dan

ALM
February 26th, 2015, 03:04 PM
Yes, I am the same way. I am told it is because I do not have flexible ankles.

I once had a shoulder problem and the doctor told me not to raise my arm above my head for three months. So I spent those three months in the pool kicking (with the bad arm down at my side). I hoped that three months of kicking 3-4 workouts per week would improve my kicking ability. I was wrong.

My ankles are not a hindrance for breaststroke kicking. Just for flutter kick.

Anna Lea

Sea Goon
February 26th, 2015, 06:59 PM
I have a weak kick, but I've been improving lately - by foregoing the kickboard and doing IM kick sets on my back. I feel my core is getting stronger and I'm getting more distance out of a single kick. I like the kickboard for breaststroke kick, though.

Swimspire
February 26th, 2015, 09:24 PM
I don't think anyone is born with a swimming kick! It's how and when you learn that kick that makes all the difference. If you started swimming from early childhood, it is a lot easier to develop your kick and to retain that kick throughout your life. In your case, you started swimming when you were about 24 years old, and the swimming that you did was mostly using your upper body. From time to time, you decided to try to develop your kick but the experiences you had left you frustrated and maybe even embarrassed.


What you need is consistency, a variety of kick, and smart kick training. Trying to do longer kicking sets consisting of only flutter kick will actually not help you too much. And as you have experienced, without an efficient kick you will tire very easily. You need to incorporate small amounts of kicking at each workout and practice kick-oriented drills that will help improve the efficiency of your kick. You need a competent coach to guide you into kick development. As Green Ribbon Guy said, the kickboard is not necessarily the key to developing a good kick, Incorporate a variety of kicking drills, and try to kick in other strokes besides flutter kick.


And above all, don't let frustration get you down or cause you to give up. Consistency is very important.


Best of luck!

__steve__
February 26th, 2015, 10:54 PM
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5818-Help-My-Flutter-Kick-is-Horrible!&highlight=horrible

Have you tried 25's or less with several minutes rest? Are you stretching your ankles?

FindingMyInnerFish
February 26th, 2015, 11:39 PM
I've never asked this since becoming more active in these forums. Maybe someone can explain it. Why don't I have a kick? I'm 54, been swimming for about 30 years. Never on a team, nor even coached. I got into it for two reasons...so that I could compete in triathlons and other long-distance open water swims, and to improve my times for my fitness tests when I was on active duty in the Navy. And I'm pretty much just a crawl-stroker. Not much of a need for swimming the other strokes. I like to think that for never being coached that I've done OK for myself. I can still swim 500 free in around 6:30 or less, and if conditions are just right I can do a (statute mile/1600meters) in 25:00 and change (in my 20s and 30s I was a little faster). I said "never coached" but throughout my Navy career at various duty stations I occasionally encountered other military swimmers who were significantly accomplished swimmers...including a few NCAA Div I All Americans...whose brain I'd pick and they'd give me pointers. Without fail, they would always say that for never being coached I had a pretty good (crawl) stroke. But the one thing that no one could ever figure out is why my kick doesn't work. I've tried to improve it over the years to no avail. But I mean it takes me 50-55 seconds to go 25 meters and it's pretty tiring. It's so weak that at one pool I swan in until a few years ago...the filtration system return nozzles were strong enough to push me sideways into the lane line when using a kickboard (embarrassing!). So I only kick enough to keep good body position in the water. For what it's worth...same thing happens on backstroke, and those occasions I swim butterfly. I have size 13 feet -- natural fins/flippers. Still, the little kids in the swim lesson lane have a better kick than I do. So...does this phenomenon happen to anyone else? Can anyone say why?
Dan

I'm seriously lacking anything like a kick. But if it's any consolation to you, your post gives me hope. If you can swim that fast with a kick that's similar to mine in the amount of time it takes to go 25 yards, I am starting to think MAYBE there's some faster swimming in me yet. I ENVY your 500 free and your 1650!

ForceDJ
February 27th, 2015, 10:54 AM
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5818-Help-My-Flutter-Kick-is-Horrible!&highlight=horrible

Have you tried 25's or less with several minutes rest? Are you stretching your ankles?

__steve__...no I haven’t tried the 25s, and I do stretch my ankles. I have to admit…the testimonials in the thread you referenced are encouraging. I may try that. But inasmuch as my kicking is so slow…it just seems so time consuming (or waste of time) to add kicking drills when I could be doing actual swimming. I guess I could just individually substitute them into my masters w/o group's workouts. Thanks.

Dan

orca1946
February 27th, 2015, 11:37 AM
I have a friend that when kicking he goes BACKWARD???? It is so bizarre to watch!

Jimbosback
February 27th, 2015, 12:38 PM
__steve__...no I haven’t tried the 25s, and I do stretch my ankles. I have to admit…the testimonials in the thread you referenced are encouraging. I may try that. But inasmuch as my kicking is so slow…it just seems so time consuming (or waste of time) to add kicking drills when I could be doing actual swimming. I guess I could just individually substitute them into my masters w/o group's workouts. Thanks.

Dan


Since coming back to swimming after a 20+ year hiatus, my kick is pretty bad. I have been incorporating 100-200 yards of hard kicking 25s into my workouts for about 5 years. Once in a while, I do a workout that is just kicking. I was noticing small improvements to my freestyle kick along the way, but this year, finally, I am seeing huge improvements in my kick (based on 25 times). IMO, hard kicking is still swimming and not a waste of time. Leisurely kicking is a waste of time, unless your goal is to relax and socialize.

mmlr38
February 27th, 2015, 01:38 PM
Like you, I never swam when I was younger and have had no formal coaching. I have a natural stroke for distance swimming and had essentially no kick for a long time either. I had a severe injury last summer that immobilized one of my arms for the better part of three months. I was able to get back in the water after 6 weeks, but I could only kick.

I started doing 3000 yards of kicking every day, six days a week, for about 6 weeks. Now I have a kick!

I think that if you dedicate yourself to working on kicking, you can develop a kick. However, if you're only interested in long distance swimming and open water, it's not really too beneficial. A two-beat kick is really all you need to keep your body position correct in the water. Kicking more than that will tire you out.

However, if you want to swim a fast 100 or 200, you'll definitely benefit from having a powerful kick.

ForceDJ
February 27th, 2015, 03:57 PM
I started doing 3000 yards of kicking every day, six days a week, for about 6 weeks.


:afraid: OMG!!! It would take me six weeks to kick 3000 yards.

Dan

orca1946
February 28th, 2015, 12:18 PM
3000 yards ??? that is a lot of pool time!

Karl_S
February 28th, 2015, 02:18 PM
I would expect that it could be done in a bit over an hour once one built up the requisite endurance. I can do a 1000 yd kick set in 20 mins. - given the right kick set.

mmlr38
February 28th, 2015, 08:33 PM
I would expect that it could be done in a bit over an hour once one built up the requisite endurance. I can do a 1000 yd kick set in 20 mins. - given the right kick set.
Yeah, it would take me about 70 minutes or so to do my 3000 yard kick set.

Syd
March 1st, 2015, 07:02 PM
According to Eddie Reese (http://swimswam.com/video-interview-texas-coach-eddie-reese-reveals-secret-to-butterfly-dynasty/), you had better learn to develop a good kick. 30 - 40 x 25's of some form of butterfly kick, every session.:)

ddl
March 6th, 2015, 11:23 AM
I have trouble with flutter kicks, too, especially when on my back.

vo2
March 7th, 2015, 07:10 AM
Same age and kicking was the bane of my existence until someone suggested I get a snorkel for streamline kicking and also mix in streamlined kicking on back. Voila. Suddenly made sense and my neck and back stopped hurting which is what ultimately led me to not want to kick: the kickboard. Plus actually practicing the kick in an orientation I use it with full stroke swimming really helped me integrate it well. I like kicking so much now it gets a ton of attention and the payoff keeps me coming back. Have had the most significant time gains in years as my kick improves a teeny bit every workout. Incidentally I have very marginal flexibility I can't come close to touching my toes on the floor with legs flat like the freaks can. Maybe 3" off the floor at best.

ForceDJ
March 7th, 2015, 10:35 AM
OK, you proponents of improved (flutter/crawl) kicking are making some sense to me. In my last few pool sessions I have incorporate more of the sprint kick sets mentioned above. And, my times have improved a bit...down from 55 second per 25 meters to around 45-50 seconds per 25 meters. Still slow (I'm still getting passed up by little kids messing around in the play lane) but improvement. But the bigger question still exists for me. I'm really only a longer distance crawl stroke swimmer. Will all this work to attain some sort of propulsion from kicking actually improve my times in those longer swims? Part of me thinks that I should just leave well enough alone because I have no desire to ever be a short-distance sprint swimmer.

And here's another issue I've realized: When I do employ a more rapid flutter kick while swimming...my legs get all twisted when I rotate to breathe (I'm a bi-lateral breather), my knees and ankles are knocking together. It seems counterproductive. I have to make a conscious effort to keep that twisting from happening, but then I feel all stiff and uncoordinated. So again...is it all worth the effort?

Dan

__steve__
March 7th, 2015, 01:02 PM
A strong kick in your final 50 can cut seconds off your 1500

Trondi
March 7th, 2015, 02:09 PM
Yes - me too:)

Over the years my kick has got stronger though. I use diving fins once a week in the pool to help me go body surfing in the summer. This probably helps ankle flexibility and leg strength, both valuable developments to help improve kicking for swim racing. The diving fins are very long and require a much reduced cadence.

Without really trying my kick is now almost good.

ande
March 10th, 2015, 12:08 PM
a Kick is something you can develop

here's how you improve it

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5818-Help-My-Flutter-Kick-is-Horrible!&p=278784&viewfull=1#post278784

Help! My kick is horrible will work for you

Ande

m2tall2
June 29th, 2015, 04:37 PM
I know this is just a little bit older thread but I was definitely "born without a kick" and was curious how yours was coming along. I have size 11 womens feet and decently flexible ankles (I have to go past straight alignment with my leg to feel any stretch). I was competitive 7-22 and still, no coach cared enough to help me fix me kick (and I asked but was only ever met with "just work harder" or "just kick more") but harder wasn't helping and neither did more.
I am finally feeling like as an adult my kick is starting to come together. Here are some things I have done different that I think are improving my kick:
1) get someone to tape you - even if it is a 20- 25 FOOT above ground pool. I've always loved my two beat kick and felt very powerful but in fact, watching it it just looked like that "power" was in fact me unknowingly struggling to keep my rear from sinking. The 6 beat kick feels slow right now but the body position for me is effortlessly so much better. I'll just have to work with the slower feeling overall speed and slowly work to speed up the kick to match my preferred arm tempo.
2) make sure you are recovering your legs back up straight, not bent. Sheila Taormina discussed this in one of her books as a main cause of adults that kick but go backwards. I did not have an aggregiously flawed bend enough to go backwards, but I was recovering with a too relaxed and slightly bent knee...enough to put the brakes on a little. I started dropping 10 seconds per 50 when I started adding a straight up kick.
3) when doing kick sets, kick in a six beat kick cycle, actively thinking "KICK, kick, kick, KICK, kick, kick". It helps me to get my legs coordinated so they aren't doing awkward things all over the place.
4) Ditch the board. Get a snorkel if you want a breathing break. I ditched the board two weeks ago because of shoulder/neck/jaw strain and I'm really happy with the results. At first this felt icky but now I feel like my kick is starting to really feel good. (And combined with my next point, my dolphin is starting to feel fantastic.)
5) Make sure your "flippers" are pushing the water in the direction you want it to. Watch it by doing some vertical kicking in the deep end. My knees naturally don't bend in the proper direction (great for Breast stroke bad for EVERYTHING else and I discovered I have to pigeon toe A LOT. So much, I have to rotate my hips too so my knees don't whack and there's a giant hole between my lower legs but it doesn't hurt and its pushing the water in the right direction. I've gained an easy body length off walls despite my giant leg hole, so it's working.
6) Get leg strength. I do this with short burst fin sets (this also doubles as a good check on making sure I'm kicking the water the right direction) and dry lands like lunges, squats, planks, plyometrics and reverse crunches.

Anyways, I'm mostly starting to see improvements now that I have a kick technique instead of just "work harder, do more". And I'm sure I still have more to learn. Hope you are seeing some kick improvements.

smontanaro
June 29th, 2015, 07:55 PM
I've been out of the water for most of the past three years or so with shoulder issues. During that time, I increased my cycling a lot. I don't think my kick is any better from a speed perspective, but I'm pretty sure my endurance has improved.

revchris
June 29th, 2015, 08:50 PM
I hesitate to reply because you swim faster than I do. (I just now got to a 30 minute 1500 meter.) But for what it's worth, my kick has gone from horrible to not-so-horrible by slowing my kick down. When kicking with a board with my masters group, I would flutter kick furiously to try to keep up, but would quickly exhaust myself, even though I can keep up fine with those some same swimmers swimming freestyle. I have switched to a two-beat kick, and for the first time, I can actually feel my kick adding at least a bit of glide to my stroke, and I can feel my feet moving the water. I think that, before, I was twitching more than I was kicking, basically stirring up a bunch of water but not really with any force. When I use a kick board now, if I slow down and aim more for a decent rhythm than for just kicking fast, I go faster, but certainly not fast.

Bill Sive
July 3rd, 2015, 10:21 AM
Do whatever it takes.
(I couldn't resist not posting this.)

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