View Full Version : kick-based training

Lucky McCharm
July 18th, 2005, 05:45 PM
Does anyone have information on kick-based training, as I have some swimmers recovering from shoulder surgery and want to return to practice.

Graham Short
September 23rd, 2005, 10:14 AM
A few years ago I suffered with swimmer's shoulder (chronic shoulder pain caused by friction that develops as the proximal head of the humerus 'rubs' across the supraspinatus tendon).

At the time I was covering in excess of 50,000 metres a week, and most of this was done on butterfly, so on reflection maybe it was to be expected. As a masters coach I've seen swimmers suffer with the same problem when regularly doing less than 8,000 metres a week. In every case their stroke was not mechanically sound and this was the major cause of the problem.

As my shoulder became worse, I noticed that I could swim backstroke without experiencing any pain. Other butterflyers with a shoulder problem have told me that they have noticed this too. I remember one morning at the pool...I could only manage 150 metres of the warm-up and the pain was so strong that I couldn't swim any more. I needed help to get dressed and when in my car, at the pool, I couldn't raise my arm to adjust the rear view mirror.

I tried a course of acupuncture. I took as many anti-inflammatory tablets as I could swallow in a day, and even had several painkilling injections in my shoulder. All to no avail. It's surprising how many people you meet who are willing to offer you their theory of why you attracted the problem in the first place! Sadly (for the determined swimmer) the best alternative, other than surgery, is to rest.

It's important, while out of the water, to do regular strengthening exercises. The offending shoulder will very quickly become weak. It's vital to keep these muscles working. This is nothing more than preparation for when you get back in the pool.

As I said, backstroke was OK for me to train on without pain, but as a flier I didn't particularly like swimming backstroke. The value of a kick-based programme, following a shoulder problem can't be stressed strongly enough.

I did 90 per cent of every session on kicking for the first two months. Every time I did fly kicking, which was most of the time, I followed the same kicking pattern, coming up for a breath after the same number of kicks (4) that I would normally do on my two stroke breathing cycle. Also, remembering that the downbeat of the first kick is always longer than the second kick, I maintained this pattern throughout the kicks - 1 and 3 heavy, 2 and 4 light.

Some people will tell you that the two kicks should be of equal effort. I accept that this is basically true but when the swimmer's head is down during the first downbeat, the hips can travel up and forward for a longer distance which in turn permits the legs to kick downward for a greater length of time. Anyway, it is important to emulate the competitive stroke as closely as possible when training. And remember, never use a kickboard for fly kicking.

If you do the same thing often enough, you will become good at it. This was evident after about two and a half weeks. I found that when doing my fly leg kicking, I could keep up with others who were doing full stroke. I would recommend any swimmer - even a breaststroker or backstroker - who is out with a shoulder injury to use lots of fly kicking during practice. The benefit will be a vast improvement in abdominal strength. In fact you will find that many top swimmers include such work as part of a core strength development programme.

I didn't use full stroke until about seven or eight weeks into my 'come back' training. Within a month I was swimming faster than I had done previously. I am 100 per cent certain that the vast kicking overload was responsible for this improvement.

You may question the boredom factor of your swimmers kicking through most of the session. Don't worry about this. They will get great satisfaction after just a short while from matching the speed of other swimmers who are doing full stroke!

Paul Smith
September 23rd, 2005, 10:27 AM

Not sure if I transfered this over correctly, its a link to a swimming technique article from Jul-Sep 2003.......very insightful.

Dave Chambers
March 17th, 2006, 06:01 AM
If you are going to have an injry let it be an upper body injury. I had a bad leg injury and it stuffed me completely. I have seen many swimmers with shoulder injuries do kick sets and all of them inproved their times when they went back to normal swimming.

Your legs are the biggest muscle group in your body so therefore they need to be trained more then the other muscles. We tend not to do enough kick in training so it is a good thing if you can put together a couple of months kick only.

Duncan Armstrong was the classic example of this. I think it was the last couple of years where 80% of his training was kick. He went on to win a Commonwealth Games gold and silver from memory. I am sure there are plenty of other examples out there.