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Sbuk
February 26th, 2018, 07:52 AM
I have always been terrible at kick, and I believe it holds me back, so I want to make some improvements. As an age group swimmer, we would train lots of 50m kick on 60 secs, and I would struggle at that pace, and now I am older and heavier than I was then.

Physically I am 6'2" and about 225#, but my feet don't measure up at all at size 8, with a high arch and hammer toes. I don't want to make excuses, but this may be why my feet struggle to catch the water properly. I know this means I'm going to struggle, but I am looking to do the best with what I have.

What should I do in training to:

Improve feel for the water and effectiveness of kick?
Greatly improve kicking endurance?
Keep my kick "switched on" when doing full stroke?


Are there other factors I should consider?

JPEnge
February 26th, 2018, 08:37 AM
Do more kick sets. Sounds trite, but that's really it. End practice a couple times a week with something like 5x100s kick on an interval that's relatively challenging and try to work that interval down 5 seconds every few weeks or month. No fins!

Also, work on your ankle flexibility. IMO that has more effect on kicking ability than size of feet.

ganache
February 26th, 2018, 02:39 PM
One thing you can look at is whether or not you let your knee drift upwards while your foot is kicking forwards after the knee bends slightly. The way to do this is go to the corner of the pool and holding onto the two sides of the pool, kick vertically and look down to see if your knee stays forward as you finish your kick. Imagine kicking a ball and extending your foot forwards. If you were to let your knee move backwards as you extend your foot while you kick a ball, there would be very little power in the kick. I was at a clinic that showed video of several swimmers who had slower kicks because as their foot extended down their knee moved upwards. If this is not a problem, I agree with the previous post that you probably just need to do sets of fast kicking and working on ankle flexibility.

Sumorunner
February 27th, 2018, 07:52 PM
5x100 kick sets make me laugh. I cannot make 25yd kicking in any amount of time. I literally come to a dead stop in the water after a few yards. But I try anyway.

When they talk about ankle flexibility, they don't really mean the ankle. It's all about the extensor tendons from the shin down along the top of the foot. I was a runner 40+ years before getting into swimming seriously and running not only doesn't stretch those tendons, it compresses them. A good kick needs your foot to be almost in-line flat with the leg in order for it to act like a flipper, not at a 45 degree angle.

If the foot enters the water at a 45deg. angle the thrust from upward motion and downward motion actually cancel each other out. So do foot forward & down stretches to elongate those tendons. It will take a long time and often will cause muscle cramps in the shins and feet.

JPEnge
February 28th, 2018, 08:20 AM
5x100 kick sets make me laugh. I cannot make 25yd kicking in any amount of time. I literally come to a dead stop in the water after a few yards. But I try anyway.

OK, maybe that was a little aggressive. I'm a relatively good kicker but I didn't scale down. My college coach used to make us do 1500 kick for time at the end of practice once a month or so, you kind of force yourself to get better a kicking for that or you're in your own personal hell for 20-30 minutes.

orca1946
February 28th, 2018, 11:14 AM
I think "short fins" will aid in ankle flex. When kicking ,it is not just down but, also the up phase that adds motion.
Try to keep your feet under the water surface so as to push water not air.

Sbuk
February 28th, 2018, 08:00 PM
I can probably cope with a 5x100m kick at the end of a session, but it won't be very quick. Although, I'm a little concerned that this set will only assist with fc kick, as I assume you didn't mean to alternate strokes? The goal is to improve all types of kick.

Fc kick is probably my strongest, compared with fly, back, and brst, but it is also the kick that is most likely to just switch off when I go back to doing full stroke. I was wondering if there is a good drill to try to correct that, like counting kicks for each arm stroke? I'd like to be able to go to my feet when sprinting, rather than trying to move my arms quicker and just messing up my stroke.

JPEnge
March 1st, 2018, 09:08 AM
I can probably cope with a 5x100m kick at the end of a session, but it won't be very quick. Although, I'm a little concerned that this set will only assist with fc kick, as I assume you didn't mean to alternate strokes? The goal is to improve all types of kick.

Fc kick is probably my strongest, compared with fly, back, and brst, but it is also the kick that is most likely to just switch off when I go back to doing full stroke. I was wondering if there is a good drill to try to correct that, like counting kicks for each arm stroke? I'd like to be able to go to my feet when sprinting, rather than trying to move my arms quicker and just messing up my stroke.

What do you mean by "Fc kick?" I don't recognize that acronym. Do you mean freestyle? Usually I do my kick sets as 25 dolphin/50 flutter kick (so my 100s are 25/50/25) whether with a board or on my back. Times should be relatively consistent either way though I am faster on my back.

One of the things with applying more kick to the full stroke is that mechanics do have to change a bit. A 6-beat kick is going to result in a different rhythm than a 2-beat kick no matter what - you're going to be sitting higher in the water, your body rotation is going to be different.

Sbuk
March 1st, 2018, 11:30 AM
Sorry, I usually write fc because our coach would always write frontcrawl (freestyle) sets as fc for short.

As for using a higher beat kick, I'm not sure how beneficial it would be given how slow my kick is? Currently, on full stroke freestyle I rely mostly on my arms with just a small kick on each stroke. My stroke is fairly efficient, but it isn't quick. Adding lots of leg kick affects my arm technique and I get slower rather than quicker, but that may be because I am just not used to it and need to keep practicing so I can hold the arm technique whilst kicking. I've been swimming for many years, but never mastered using both my legs and arms at the same time properly. When I practice, my legs often switch off almost entirely, with only a balancing kick being used.

JPEnge
March 1st, 2018, 12:35 PM
OK, so you have what I referred to as a 2-beat kick - 2 kicks per stroke cycle. When you're kicking like that, as you've realized and noted, it's not really a propulsive kick. That style is more for balance than anything else. What you want to learn to use kick as propulsion is not kicking harder, but kicking more - a 6-beat kick, or 6 kicks per stroke cycle/3 per arm stroke.

My favorite drill to kind of feel that rhythm difference is 6 kicks/3 arm strokes. Start off kicking on your side with one arm out streamlined. 6 flutter kicks this way. Then you take 3 strokes trying to maintain that same kicking rhythm with 3 kicks per arm stroke so you end up on the opposite side. Repeat as needed. Sorry, I don't think that came out very clearly via typing... I'm much more of a show-and-tell when it comes to describing.

Sbuk
March 1st, 2018, 04:56 PM
OK, so you have what I referred to as a 2-beat kick - 2 kicks per stroke cycle. When you're kicking like that, as you've realized and noted, it's not really a propulsive kick. That style is more for balance than anything else. What you want to learn to use kick as propulsion is not kicking harder, but kicking more - a 6-beat kick, or 6 kicks per stroke cycle/3 per arm stroke.

My favorite drill to kind of feel that rhythm difference is 6 kicks/3 arm strokes. Start off kicking on your side with one arm out streamlined. 6 flutter kicks this way. Then you take 3 strokes trying to maintain that same kicking rhythm with 3 kicks per arm stroke so you end up on the opposite side. Repeat as needed. Sorry, I don't think that came out very clearly via typing... I'm much more of a show-and-tell when it comes to describing.
That made sense. I will give it a try. Thank you.

Sbuk
March 4th, 2018, 05:34 PM
I tried the drill with kicking on one side -> 3 pulls -> kicking on other side. I did it over 5x100m, and currently I have really poor control over body position and the kick isn't great. But I will keep practicing, as I could feel the difference when returning to full stroke.

I also did the 5x100m kick set, and I went nowhere near as quick as I hoped, so was going off about 2:30. I will have to keep working on that too.

orca1946
March 14th, 2018, 03:32 PM
After 5 hip operations, my kick is something I need to work on ALL the time!

flippper00
March 15th, 2018, 01:27 AM
This worked for me in the beginning: kickboard + the fastest kick one can muster for 25yds, or as far as possible, 15 yards, 20 yards, lots of rest for a strong start each 25. Sprinters kick their heels out of the water on a 6-stroke kick - this allows them to reach a higher speed for more propulsion in the down kick, and for me that engages the shins in the effort too. At first, it feels like a hugely exaggerated kick, but when it catches you'll feel the strong push. Work up over months to an all kick workout once in a while. When I started swimming again after 7 years off, couldn't swim any stroke fast at all. I'm 6'4" 240 lbs. Could barely kick with speed past mid pool. But practice will improve a kick, it has mine, slowly, each week a little stronger and faster. A strong kick can take seconds off of a 25 time, or just reduce arm work during sets. At some point, try to learn to time the kick and reach/catch on opposing sides just right. Nathan Adrian talked about that in a video, and it works to give a little more propulsion.
For butterfly and backstroke, practicing underwater dolphin kick, just 3 strokes off of each wall, can strengthen the core over time, improving all stroke kicks.

Sbuk
March 15th, 2018, 01:41 PM
This worked for me in the beginning: kickboard + the fastest kick one can muster for 25yds, or as far as possible, 15 yards, 20 yards, lots of rest for a strong start each 25. Sprinters kick their heels out of the water on a 6-stroke kick - this allows them to reach a higher speed for more propulsion in the down kick, and for me that engages the shins in the effort too. At first, it feels like a hugely exaggerated kick, but when it catches you'll feel the strong push. Work up over months to an all kick workout once in a while. When I started swimming again after 7 years off, couldn't swim any stroke fast at all. I'm 6'4" 240 lbs. Could barely kick with speed past mid pool. But practice will improve a kick, it has mine, slowly, each week a little stronger and faster. A strong kick can take seconds off of a 25 time, or just reduce arm work during sets. At some point, try to learn to time the kick and reach/catch on opposing sides just right. Nathan Adrian talked about that in a video, and it works to give a little more propulsion.
For butterfly and backstroke, practicing underwater dolphin kick, just 3 strokes off of each wall, can strengthen the core over time, improving all stroke kicks.
I always try to do some dolphin kicks off the wall. I don't think it's any quicker for me than just gliding because my kick is so poor, but I try it anyway.
When you say heels out of the water, I assume you mean just heels? I had a habit of lifting my foot out and thumping it back into the water, which creates a lot of splash, but probably makes the foot just slip straight through the water, rather than 'catching' the water and pushing me forwards. Doing more kick has made me more conscious of that, and I try not to lift my feet too high now. My times doing kick have improved a little too.

flippper00
March 15th, 2018, 11:54 PM
I always try to do some dolphin kicks off the wall. I don't think it's any quicker for me than just gliding because my kick is so poor, but I try it anyway.
When you say heels out of the water, I assume you mean just heels? I had a habit of lifting my foot out and thumping it back into the water, which creates a lot of splash, but probably makes the foot just slip straight through the water, rather than 'catching' the water and pushing me forwards. Doing more kick has made me more conscious of that, and I try not to lift my feet too high now. My times doing kick have improved a little too.

Feet all the way out of water if you it helps, thump thump thump - 24.6 second 50 yd kick only:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-3_z2LsWcI

I've heard getting the feet out of the water some helps to accelerate them faster on entry, and hence more propulsion force, and more splash.

Underwater dolphins won't accelerate you much with a strong wall push off, but it will maintain a higher speed than glide alone. 3 or 4 kicks takes me out a few extra yards more than just gliding before I do a breakout at swim speed.

flippper00
March 16th, 2018, 01:32 AM
Kicking like all of a stroke, is part learning what works best for your particular body, and part lots of practicing to make that form even stronger and faster. All parts of a stroke may need constant adjustment as muscle and strength builds over time.

For instance, my ankles lock in the down stroke before they are parallel to the shins, unlike most swimmers I see that accomplish a flat shin to top-of-foot line. I unconsciously compensate for this by focusing on finding the fastest kick form: speed, amplitude, timing all adjusted constantly. Study of natural swimming creatures shows that faster smaller undulations give the highest speed, but not necessarily the fastest acceleration. This all takes lots of patience, a sense of the water with your legs, a willingness to change things up a bit just to see what happens, and practice to find the best kick for oneself. Sometimes in sets I might do a few lengths with slow large exaggerated undulating flutter kicks, which probably look bizarre to coach and others, but it works to stretch hips and legs, build core, and give a further sense of what type of leg movements give the best propulsion.

Despite what others said here, zoomers occasionally can teach your body the feel of moving fast with legs, which can be remembered later without zoomers.

Sbuk
March 18th, 2018, 04:19 PM
Feet all the way out of water if you it helps, thump thump thump - 24.6 second 50 yd kick only:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-3_z2LsWcI

I've heard getting the feet out of the water some helps to accelerate them faster on entry, and hence more propulsion force, and more splash.

Underwater dolphins won't accelerate you much with a strong wall push off, but it will maintain a higher speed than glide alone. 3 or 4 kicks takes me out a few extra yards more than just gliding before I do a breakout at swim speed.
Thanks for the advice. That kick video is ridiculous. There's no way I could ever get close to going that quick (probably not even as quick as the slower kickers). I'd just be happy to go a bit quicker than I do now. Maybe around 50-55 seconds per 50m for a longer set. I'm currently doing slightly over a minute.

Sbuk
March 18th, 2018, 10:43 PM
Work up over months to an all kick workout once in a while.What do you suggest for an all kick workout? I.e. Sticking to fast 25s with lots of rest, or extended distances to build up stamina?

It sounds like something I would hate doing right now, but could be a really good goal to work towards.

Sbuk
April 5th, 2018, 06:46 AM
I've been working on my kick when possible, using a training plan that has 2x200m, and 2x100m free kick during warmup, then 20x25m kick alt free/choice, which is supposed to be as fast as possible. Then during some IM swim sets there's a couple of 3x100m IM kick.

I've made slight improvements in terms of time and endurance. I can now kick a 200m free without needing to switch strokes because of tiredness, and I can keep a reasonable rhythm, but it's still not quick at around 4 minutes/200m. For the fast 25m kick, I can do slightly over 20 seconds when fresh, and this slows by a couple of seconds when I start to tire.

I'm going to keep doing the sessions with a lot of kick as they seem to help more when actually swimming, with body position and the ability to go to my legs, especially if my kick is strong for the first couple of strokes off the wall.

JPEnge
April 5th, 2018, 09:03 AM
I've been working on my kick when possible, using a training plan that has 2x200m, and 2x100m free kick during warmup, then 20x25m kick alt free/choice, which is supposed to be as fast as possible. Then during some IM swim sets there's a couple of 3x100m IM kick.

I've made slight improvements in terms of time and endurance. I can now kick a 200m free without needing to switch strokes because of tiredness, and I can keep a reasonable rhythm, but it's still not quick at around 4 minutes/200m. For the fast 25m kick, I can do slightly over 20 seconds when fresh, and this slows by a couple of seconds when I start to tire.

I'm going to keep doing the sessions with a lot of kick as they seem to help more when actually swimming, with body position and the ability to go to my legs, especially if my kick is strong for the first couple of strokes off the wall.

That's great to hear! I'm glad the focused work is helping you see some improvements.