One of your top priorities during swimming workouts should be improving freestyle kicks. In swimming, every part of your body is essential to your swimming. Excellent body coordination translates to better swimming performance.
Swimming requires propulsion, and your arms cannot do that alone. If you are swimming over a long distance, you’ll get exhausted quickly. With powerful kicks, you can maintain your stability, body position, and swim freestyle faster.
Top swimmers around the world have maintained their efficiency by regularly focusing on improving stroke efficiency. Most fast swimmers are rapid kickers. Therefore, it will be advisable that you dedicate more time to strengthening your kicks.
In this article, I will be discussing how you can improve your freestyle kicks to increase your performance. Let’s get started.
Why You Should Improve Your Freestyle Kick
Some triathletes with wrong mindsets often feel that they should not depend on their legs for propulsion while swimming. Similarly, some long-distance swimmers and some other swimmers have the same attitude to conserve energy.
Swimming as a sport engages many parts of the body, and your performance depends on the coordination of your upper and lower body. Therefore, your swimming performance depends on the quality and strength of your propulsion where your kicks complement your arms.
Some swimmers believe that kicks are challenging to train; however, it is beneficial in the long run. You do not have to put all the pressure on your arms.
With quality freestyle strokes, you can sustain a proper stroke, posture, and swimming rhythm. As you continually kick your legs, the efficiency of your strokes is significantly improved.
Balanced body positioning
Dangling your legs in the water or slowing down your kicks can impact your body positioning. Your swimming posture gets tilted such that your hips drop down in the water. This awkward body positioning can constitute enough drag to slow you down.
By maintaining a quality kicking power, your body becomes streamlined (flat on the water), and drag is significantly minimized.
Higher swimming speed
The most apparent benefit of freestyle strokes is increased speed. Your kicking, depending on intensity, can generate additional propulsion to complement your arms. Since your body position is balanced and your strokes are efficient, speed improves significantly.
Six Ways to Improve Your Freestyle Kick
Now that you know the benefits of freestyle kicks, the next thing should be how to improve your freestyle kick. Improving freestyle kick is simple, but it requires regular practice to bring about the desired perfection.
Your kicking power will most likely improve if you are knowledgeable about freestyle kicks. At first, one needs to understand how to kick effectively as well as how to coordinate the body (legs). I have discussed some essential things that you should adopt.
1. Body Position
To achieve the best freestyle swimming performance, you need to maintain the right body position all through. A low body position will cause drag. Hence, you should keep a straight spine with your body almost parallel to the water surface.
2. Enhance Ankle Strength and Flexibility
In freestyle kicking, your ankles are involved in the vertical kicks. One needs to straighten out the legs, extend the ankles, and stretch out the toes. Your level of kicking stability starts with your ankles.
Enhancing your ankle strength can go a long way in improving your kicks. You need to train your ankles to get used to it. Increased ankle strength translates to high endurance and athleticism.
You also need to maintain flexible ankles. Higher ankle flexibility implies that you can capture more water as you kick your feet. This way, your vertical kicks are efficient, and propulsion is higher.
Some dry exercises can improve ankle flexibility and strength. You can try our ankle rotations while sitting. Also, you can practice ankle rockers where you alternate between standing in the back of your foot and your toes.
You can also perform wet exercises using swim fins and kickboards.
3. Balancing Your Kicks
Many swimmers do not know how to kick their feet, especially beginners. Their emphasis is on intensity instead of doing it right. Kicking without any benefit can be discouraging; hence, it is best to learn how to balance your kicks.
Knowing how freestyle kicks work will help you channel your efforts in the right direction. In freestyle kicking, the top of your stretched-out feet provides the propulsion. Therefore, if your feet are well stretched, your kicks are more powerful.
You should be more mindful of your kick. Well-balanced kicks will help your lower body stay afloat and constitute less drag to swimming.
To have a good grip on balancing your kicks, you may try out freestyle drills with swim cords. You may also add swim parachutes and weight belts.
See Also: 4 Drills for a Faster Freestyle Kick
4. Maintaining a Good Kick Timing
When you time your kicks correctly, your coordination is much better. It can be two kicks, four, or even six. If you are going long distances or engaging in triathlons, a two-beat timing is enough, so you don’t tire your legs quickly.
Similarly, to achieve a powerful sprint, the six-beat kick is sufficient, and the four-beat kicks should give you a moderate speed. In a nutshell, the number of kicks per stroke depends on you.
A well-synchronized kick timing should not disrupt your body rotation while swimming. Your kick timing should be divided between your arm strokes. For instance, you should have three kicks per arm stroke cycle using a 6-beat timing.
5. Kicking the Right Way
If you are going to improve your freestyle kicking, you also need to improve your freestyle stroke. Not synchronizing your kicks or not kicking your legs at all will slow you down. In fact, kicking the wrong way can draw you backward.
Once you have improved your ankle flexibility and strength, it is much easier to propel your body. You should have a good understanding of the arm stroke cycle as well. That is, a good catch, excellent pull, and proper exit for the hand after each thrust.
Just like the arms, the legs should also kick alternatively. There is the up-kick (the returning leg) and the down-kick (the power kick). During the down-kick, your feet should be stretched out and your toes pointed out.
It is important to kick with your hips and not the knees. You only need to flex your knees slightly to provide the necessary flick and avoid drag. In the end, your leg must have reached the lowest point in the water.
Now it is time to switch to the up-kick and prepare for the next down-kick. You have to up-kick such that your heel almost exits the water. To up-kick faster, you should bend your knee till it almost reaches the surface.
6. Practice and keep practicing
Great! You’ve improved your freestyle kick and understood the related basics. Well, it doesn’t stop there. You should invest more time in practicing if you want to get better. You can get a waterproof fitness tracker to monitor your performance as well.
Here is a simple tutorial video on how to improve your freestyle kicks for better performance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you have any questions associated with freestyle kicking? Or did you miss some essential details in the article? Let’s check out a few of the frequently asked questions related to the article to get some answers.
Why Is My Freestyle Kick So Slow?
Well, you may have to take things slow, as well. Your swimming will be slow if you are bending your knees too much, have a low body position, or your ankles are stiff and weak.
How Should I Style My Hair Before Putting on a Swim Cap?
Yes! Don’t be lazy. Kicking in freestyle can improve your body position and stability. Since there is a lesser drag, your speed is significantly increased, and swimming becomes more efficient.
What to Apply to Skin Before Swimming?
The familiar kicks for swimmers at the 2-beat, 4-beat, and 6-beat timings. The 2-beat timing is best for long distances or triathletes to balance speed and energy. For short distances where you need a powerful sprint, the 6-beat timing is ideal. Beginners may want to start with the 2-beat timing due its light intensity.
How to Neutralize Chlorine on the Skin?
You will experience backward propulsion when you kick only if your ankle and knee are relaxed. To avoid this, you need to slightly bend your knees and extend your ankle and toes during every down-kick.
Most swimmers believe that kicking isn’t really crucial in freestyle swimming. Well, this is wrong, and you should do the contrary by improving freestyle kicks for better swimming performance.
Freestyle kicking can significantly complement the efforts of your arms. Consequently, you gain more propulsion and achieve higher speeds. It also makes swimming easier since you don’t have to struggle for balance and body position.
You should take your time to learn freestyle kicking and improve yourself. Create regular practicing sessions. Take it slowly till you get a good grasp of things, and you would definitely improve over time.
By now, you should have a full understanding of how to improve your freestyle kick and, ultimately, your freestyle swimming.
Should you need answers to some questions or doubts, kindly put them in the comment section below. Comments and suggestions are welcomed as well.
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