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Manticora
September 27th, 2004, 12:30 PM
I once had a terrific boss who taught me a lot not only about work, but life. One thing he taught me and that I've lived by ever since is to constantly ask yourself "Does what I'm doing make sense?"

Applying that question to kicking drills has made me wonder. I have read more than once that (other than in breaststroke) kicking a) is used to maintain your body's position in the water, b) that you derive little or no propulsion from it (other than perhaps when sprinting), c) kicking hard can actually increase your drag and slow you down, and d) kicking hard more than doubles your energy use.

Given those four things, I'd like to know your thoughts (and not just knee-jerk reactions) from both swimmers and coaches, regardless of your experience level:

Does it make sense for us to use a large part of our practice time and energy doing kicking drills?

Do we derive any real benefit from doing so?

Do we do it because it actually helps us be better swimmers (which would make sense), or do we do it because "that's the way it's always been done" (which makes no sense at all).

Keep on strokin'!

Scansy
September 27th, 2004, 09:15 PM
I am not a coach, but here is my two cents worth - and that may be all it is worth!:p

When I swim free, I don't kick very hard, unless I am doing a 50 or 100 sprint. Just enough to keep myself as streamlined as possible. I really focus on pressing on my chest to keep me streamlined. Kicking takes a lot of energy and if I kick to hard on longer swims/sets I actually end up with a slower time.

When doing back, I don't think I have very good form. As a result, I kick like crazy to keep streamlined. I can't do back for more than 100 at a time without a quick rest.

My breast kick isn't very strong - at least not as strong as I would like it to be. (Although I may not be getting enough propulsion from my kick due to body position....). I definately need more work here.

I am just starting with fly, so don't have any real base to speak from.

As for doing kick sets - I think they do have value because...
1. They will help to keep ankles loose. This will make the kick more effective - both at giving propulsion and keeping balance - with the sam amount of effort during a swim. I think this is a key reason in favor of doing kick sets.
2. Nothing elevates my heart rate like an all out kick set.
3. I like to do dolphin kick sets - and am beginning to incorporate doing it on my sides and back - because of the work my abs get from it.
4. Kicking on my back seems to help my balance get better for backstroke.
5. Doing an egg-beater set (kicking while bending the knees rather than a proper flutter kick which is bending at the hips) is a great workout for quads. This really helps the breaststroke.
5. Finally, as a skier (snow), I am now working more kicking in for the next couple of months or so to get ready for the skiing season.

Just my thoughts. I would be interested in everyone elses thoughts too.

Rob Copeland
September 28th, 2004, 08:44 AM
Glen,

While your mileage my vary, at least in my case, my kick is an integral part of my freestyle, at all distances.

To your 4 points:
a) is used to maintain your body's position in the water, - while a good kick will help to maintain your body position, there are many more benefits to a good kick and there are many more critical factors involved on maintaining the body position.

b) that you derive little or no propulsion from it - kicking with a board and no fins I will typically hold a 1:30 to 1:40 per 100yd pace, which may be faster then many masters, but is by no means world class. So with practice your kick can derive propulsion.

c) kicking hard can actually increase your drag and slow you down, - kicking hard I can get down to around 1:15 per 100yd, kicking hard does not increase drag, unless it your hard kicking is mechanically incorrect

d) kicking hard more than doubles your energy use Ė I donít have the exact % increase of energy expended, but yes kicking expends energy.

If you watched the Olympics this year, you may have noticed that a lot of the distance swimmers maintained a strong 6-beat kick for their entire 1500 race, which is a change from 8-12 years ago where we saw more 2-beat distance guys. I think the distance world is discovering the benefits of strong kick, provided the athletes are properly trained to maintain this higher level of energy burn.

Scansy
September 28th, 2004, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by Rob Copeland
. . .

I think the distance world is discovering the benefits of strong kick, provided the athletes are properly trained to maintain this higher level of energy burn.

There is not doubt that if you can maintain the hard kick that it will help your times on distance swims. I suspect the problem for many masters swimmers will be that they are not able to maintain that hard kick for longer swims. The fatigue later in the race would more than offset the extra speed early in the race.

Brett
September 29th, 2004, 08:59 AM
Thank you for the post. I have been thinking about this question for some time now. What is the best way to add kick sets into a workout? I am new to this so please keep it simple. How often should kick sets be done and when in the workout. How far? etc.

LindsayNB
September 29th, 2004, 10:19 AM
My coach has made a couple of comments about kicking. After reading one of the TI articles which pretty much dismissed the value of doing kick set with kick boards I asked him his thoughts on the issue (disclaimer: I hate kicking) and he said that if nothing else kick sets are a good way to get your heart rate up and good cardiovalscular conditioning, which is certainly true for most people, especially men. A lot of our kicking occurs during warmup. Mixed into a workout, a kick set allows you to continue to work hard while giving your upper body some recovery time.

The other comment I found interesting was in relation to kicking in butterfly where he commented that if you kick hard early in a race you will feel it later on, but not in your legs, you will feel it in your shoulders and upper body which will have to do their work with less oxygen because of the large amount of oxygen consumed by the large leg muscles. He recommended saving an energetic kick for the last part of the race. During the Olympics I noticed that even in the 200 free the swimmers saved really hard kicking for the final sprint.

The key obviously is to find the level of kicking where the extra propulsion gained is not overbalanced by lower propulsion from your oxygen-starved upper body.

Personally, I found that through experimentation I was able to adjust my kick to improve the propulsion to effort ratio. I.e. kicking hard may be good practice for your end of race sprint (or sprint races) but it is also useful to practice kicking at the sort of level you will use for most of your longer distance races, which I found to be different.

bckirkland
October 8th, 2004, 05:07 PM
In relation to kicking, I hear alot about six beat kicks, two beat kicks, etc. I had never heard that term prior to the Olympics, so this may be a silly question, but what exactly do you mean by a six beat kick or a two beat kick, etc.

Since I've been back in swimming -- for just over a month now -- I find that my kicking drills really suffer. While I'm swimming my kick feels strong and I kick pretty much 100% of the time, but when I'm kicking with a kickboard doing sets of 50's or 100's, it's like I can't kick anymore. It really gets to the point at the end where I'm expending no energy at all and by the time I get done with the set, I've got 100% energy. Unless I do breat kick, that's when I really feel like I'm expending energy.

Sorry, I kinda rambled there, but at the end of the day, what do you mean by a varying beat kick? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!

cide
October 15th, 2004, 05:15 PM
I also hate the kick. After I kick 50-100yards, I am exhaused. But in almost all the workouts I find, it has the kick at the very begin of the workouts, and it also get much weight in the workout. I can never follow this kinds of workouts.

shark
October 18th, 2004, 02:08 PM
"In relation to kicking, I hear alot about six beat kicks, two beat kicks, etc. I had never heard that term prior to the Olympics, so this may be a silly question, but what exactly do you mean by a six beat kick or a two beat kick, etc."

The kick refers to how many kicks in a stroke cycle. You have a six beat kick if you take 6 kicks during 1 stroke cycle. A six beat kick requires extensive training to withstand.

As for the original question of is a good kick beneficial? I do not see how it could be detrimental unless you were not sufficiently trained to withstand it. Any propulsion it gives has got to outweigh the drag that it creates, but only if you are trained to do so. I would sacrifice the kick before I would sacrifice stroke efficiency. If the kick slows you down because you cannot maintain good stroke mechanics then it is not a good thing. Also, if it tires you out faster in a long race, it is not a good thing. But, it you can save it and have trained it, it can be a very good thing.

An incredible 6 beat kick... Brian Goodell. Ask him if it was beneficial.

November 9th, 2004, 06:55 PM
I personally think that kicking should only be done either on sprints or to increase leg strength. I used to compete and I am now a swim instructor and lap swimmer.

In teaching and in my own swim workout I don't kick at all unless I sprint or want to just work out my legs. In my opinion and experience....kicking takes too much energy to keep it up for my whole workout and it keep me from really working on my form.


My 2 pennies:D

jim thornton
November 9th, 2004, 08:18 PM
Here's another totally anecdotal piece of data to consider.

There are many people on my team who can swim as fast as normal, if not faster, when using a pull buoy. I am definitely not one of them--pull buoys make it easier and less tiring for me, but I am significantly slower when using one.

There are also many people on my team who can do kick sets like whirling dervishes. Again, I am not one of them. My kicking is mediocre at best.

One would think that the addition of mediocre stroking ability and mediocre kicking would result in mediocre, if not worse than mediocre, actual swimming. But for me, the combo is much better than the sum of its parts. For reasons I don't understand, there seems to be some odd synergy that takes place when I put kicking and arms together. Maybe it has to do with body torque or position in the water or balance or something else that you would need a degree in biomechanics to document. But the bottom line is that my swimming is much less pathetic than its mediocre component parts would indicate. I have to conclude that kicking does add something, and it may not be propulsion directly, but there's something positive going on. Maybe it allows your arms to generate more propulsion thanks to some chain reaction effect through the core muscles?

hooked-on-swimming
November 10th, 2004, 02:21 AM
I actually think I owe my recent major improvement in times to my 6-beat kick that I aquired.I was struggling for a few months with a cross-over kick which I seemed to pick up as something that was comfortable first and felt good.I posted here a couple of times before regarding that and people suggested the correction.Well... it was tough and awkward first, but I was just telling myself that I have to learn a normal good 6-beat kick and now it feels pretty good and comes more natural than before.So iI guess it definitely helps, since my times dropped since then...

Scansy
November 10th, 2004, 07:05 AM
Originally posted by jim thornton
Here's another totally anecdotal piece of data to consider.

There are many people on my team who can swim as fast as normal, if not faster, when using a pull buoy. I am definitely not one of them--pull buoys make it easier and less tiring for me, but I am significantly slower when using one.

There are also many people on my team who can do kick sets like whirling dervishes. Again, I am not one of them. My kicking is mediocre at best.

One would think that the addition of mediocre stroking ability and mediocre kicking would result in mediocre, if not worse than mediocre, actual swimming. But for me, the combo is much better than the sum of its parts. For reasons I don't understand, there seems to be some odd synergy that takes place when I put kicking and arms together. Maybe it has to do with body torque or position in the water or balance or something else that you would need a degree in biomechanics to document. But the bottom line is that my swimming is much less pathetic than its mediocre component parts would indicate. I have to conclude that kicking does add something, and it may not be propulsion directly, but there's something positive going on. Maybe it allows your arms to generate more propulsion thanks to some chain reaction effect through the core muscles?

I believe that the kick helps me to get a better rotation when I am stroking - leading to stronger pull by using the core body muscles. Could be the same for you. The kick alone doesn't add much speed, but does cause the core body muscles to get more involved in the whole package.