4 Ways To Improve Freestyle Kick | Front Crawl Swimming Tips For Triathletes

4 Ways To Improve Freestyle Kick | Front Crawl Swimming Tips For Triathletes

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– Today, I’m at Team
Bath and I’m going to be explaining how to improve
your freestyle kick. You see, without a kick,
or an effective kick, your freestyle stroke will
more or less just fall apart. It’s not only crucial for
the propulsion of your stroke but also for the balance and
rotation within the water. So here are my four ways to
improve your freestyle kick. (slow music) Okay, before we actually
delve into the four skills, it’s worth me doing a very quick explanation of the kick itself. See, as triathletes, we
are looking to sort of save our legs for the bike
and run sections of the race. I get that, so we’re not necessarily looking for a super fast and
furious leg kick, but we are looking to get an effective
leg kick for minimum effort. And most importantly, we don’t want that leg kick to be slowing us down. Okay, so the kick should
come from our hips with a soft flex through the knee. So imagine, with my arm,
my shoulder is my hip, my elbow is my knee. So we’re going in this motion. And what we don’t want, is to be kicking just from our knee, and therefore keeping the thigh more or less still. And we also want the kick to
follow right through to our toes, so we’ve got a nice
flexion through the ankle, and then finishing the
kick off at our toes. And this is actually an
area that a lot of people fall short on due to inflexible ankles. And we’ll get to that
a little bit later on. But for now, let’s take a
look at our first skill. (upbeat bass music) Okay, so the first one is quite simply, kicking with a board. It sounds straight forward, and it is. The idea being, we’re isolating
our legs for the kick, and therefore taking away the
need to think about our arms, and conveniently, the
board keeps us afloat. If kicking with a board is new to you, just grab hold the top of the board or put your hands through the
grips if your board has them. This should allow you to rest your arms, and maybe even your elbows on the board. Now, just relax your
head, neck, and shoulders, and look straight ahead down the board so you can breath whenever you like. It’s also important that I mention that kicking with a kick board does slightly restrict our body movements. So I wouldn’t advise solely
relying on a kick board. But it does offer a
good break from staring at that black line at
the bottom of the pool. And it also allows us to do some focused, quality kick sessions. (slow music) Now, if you’re someone
that struggles with ankle flexibility, you’ll probably refer to yourself as a hopeless kicker. And it tends to be those
that started out in running, ex-football players,
ex-soccer players, and so on. And the really tough thing
always with kicking is that you’re probably doing
absolutely everything correctly, but your ankles just don’t
flex like everyone else’s. Instead of them working
like fins to offload the water and propel you forward, they’re pretty much just
working like brakes. In fact, if I really lock my ankles now whilst I’m kicking, I go backwards. But then when I relax my
ankles, now, boom, away I go. Okay, so let’s work on
that ankle flexibility. And that’s where these short fins come in. By wearing them whilst you’re kicking, it will actually help
to stretch your ankles out a little bit, all whilst teaching you the correct movement of
kicking and the feeling. Start off by kicking slowly and controlled so that you feel the
flection of the ankle, the fin, and the flick at the end. Begin by doing short reps of
roughly 50 metres at a time. If you do have very tight ankles, you should build up the distance gradually to avoid any
strains or injuries. (slow music) Another great way to improve your kick is with vertical kick. And again, it’s really useful for those that have tight ankles. And as the name suggests, we’re going to be kicking vertically in the water. Find yourself some deep water where your feet aren’t touching the bottom when you get into a vertical position. Let go of the wall, cross your arms, and kick on the spot
in a vertical position, pointing your toes and keeping your chin above the surface of the water. Start by doing this for 20 seconds at a time, and focus on driving most of your power from your upper legs. Yeah, it’s pretty tough. But you can also have
some fun with this one. You can try to get your
shoulders out of the water for the whole duration, you
can increase the duration or you can even try and hold your arms out of the water for the whole time. But if you’re not quite at that stage yet and you’d like to build
into things gradually, you can of course start
off by using some fins. (slow music) This next one is sort of
bringing it all together now. We’re going to be kicking on our side, but without a kick board. So, start by pushing off the
wall and rotate onto one side. Extend the bottom arm out as if you’re about to start
the catch of your stroke. Then, rest the top arm on your leg. Now focus on a good, controlled leg kick whilst rotated onto your side. You can do this for roughly ten kicks, or 4-5 seconds before
rotating on to the other side. To do this, just continue the arm movement to finish the stroke,
whilst rotating your body. And stop when your arm
is extended out in front. I would normally recommend doing this in 25-50 metre reps before swimming off and putting it all
together in a full stroke. Now, it’s this combination of the rotation and the kick that throws most people. And actually, the kick helps to balance the body whilst we’re doing this rotation. So it’s really important we do practise kicking and rotating at the same time to try and improve in that area. And again, there’s no harm in starting out by using some fins just
to help get you going. Well there we go, there’s
just a nice handful of skills to help improve your freestyle kick. And as always, do let us know how you get on in the comments sections below. If you’d like to see more videos from GTN, just click on the globe and subscribe. And if you’d like to get
ahold of some of this GTN kit, you can head on over to our shop. If you’d like to see
our top five essential swim skills to master video,
you can just click down here. If you’d like to see four swim workouts for triathletes, just click down here.

52 thoughts on “4 Ways To Improve Freestyle Kick | Front Crawl Swimming Tips For Triathletes”

  1. I've been working on ankle flexibility since learning to front crawl 2 years ago. Can't wait to try out a few of these drills!

  2. Holy guts, Mark, do you have flexible ankles or what? I shudder to think what my feet and ankles look like under water.

  3. Hiiiii GTN, thanks again for this content that's niiiiiice🤙🤙🤙🤙just a question, I always ask my self the pace we should have with our kick as a triathlete. I m currently working to kick like the same way as Sun Yang the master of 1500m swim…but what kind of kick pace works generally better for triathlon???? Thank you guys

  4. i have a weird question. I think current freestyle strokes uses more back muscles than chest muscles, is that correct? If i'd like to work out my chest muscles more, is the only way switching to other strokes (e.g. breast stroke)? But I really want to keep training freestyle. I'd just like to work out my chest while doing it 😛

  5. It's funny, I was just thinking the other day that I really need to work on my kicking, good thing this video popped up! Thanks guys.

  6. Hi Mark! Thanks! Nice tip with crossing arms rather than holding them above water, I've been doing this vertical kick drill with runners but some struggle to keep head up and breathe, I'll take this variation with me next time.

  7. I almost go backwards with my kick as my ankles are ridiculously stiff. This to the point where I don't hardly kick at all in freshwater half irons wearing a wet suit. I am usually still in the top 10% of swim finishers, so could massively benefit from even a few % advantage with a reasonable kick. Are there any gym exercises or devices that could help with aiding flexibility. I know my technique is OK, its just that at present I'm burning way too much energy for not enough gain with the way I'm put together 🙂

  8. Hi Mark! First comment on the channel though I've been following ever since the branching out of GCN. I do have one question to you Mark and maybe an answer from Heather might be interesting too. What is the recommended hand to leg stroke ratio in triathlon? I know in swimming it's a well known issue. Thanks

  9. question…..when you get to the point when your happy with your swim technique are you better of spending more time on speed and distance ????

  10. YES!!!! Whenever I kick with a board I just go backwards! Sort of inspiring to see it mentioned here. Will try the flipper sessions and other ideas in coming week. Thanks Mark 🙂

  11. I tried to kick with the board and couldn't even move once I lost the momentum off the wall. I was kicking as hard as I could but wasn't getting anywhere.

  12. I swim fine with a pull buoy but not fine without it… I've pretty much tracked the problem to my kick. Very good & helpful video. Thanks!

  13. I just took my first swimming lessons and my swim teacher said I'm really good at freestyling but I just need to work on my legs because their stiff

  14. I've done triathlons and aquathons and although they weren't big distanced races, I never found my legs were worn out from the swim. The cycling was the one that took it out of my legs but thats just my experience of it

  15. Thanks for the video. I've always had a very poor kick so I've been doing these drills twice a week for a month and definitely see an improvement!

  16. how are professional triathletes ankles so flexible for swimming considering the high amount of running and cycling they have to do in their training?

  17. A longer fin blade with good wall structure like the classic sold by Roka actually helps people with stiff ankles. The shorter blade can cause cramping if ankle flexibility is an issue.

  18. Thanks.used a kickboard for the first time in years and just stopped halfway down the pool. Now I have some ideas on what to work on.

  19. Only learnt to swim 2 years ago, when I use the board for kicking I hardly move and sometimes stay in the same spot. Embarrassing in the pool.

  20. I love the exercises, but when you do an example, it's like you are amphibious (you don't breath). One of the biggest issues for a beginner is air. So I would love to do these exercises, but I am like 10cm deeper in the water than you and slowly drowning……..

  21. I get a charlie horse every single time I try to kick like that. I've given up and only do upper body workouts, keeping my backside up with a pull buoy.

  22. I can swim but struggling a lot in d water during breathing out(bubbling) ,, i can't even exhale for a second, within one to two seconds i feel i should take my head out of water to take a breath,otherwise i feel to hold my breath to be in water for some more seconds ,…this is main issue am struggling with, plz help me to fix this

  23. This is really helpful advice. I am one of those runner types with immoveable ankles. Looking forward to trying these drills in the pool.

  24. How exactly do I start with the hips is what I don't understand,like u Said I hvbeen just doing it with my knees,,when I do try it with hips i get tired very fast and rotate too much,, help

  25. Where can I order a pair of those fins? I have a pair of the Speedo fins but feel as if they are too bulky. Also when I wear the fins I splash water a lot but I actually move unlike when I’m not wearing them. Is it normal to splash while wearing the fins?

  26. Brilliant video. I fall into the going backwards camp. Latterly have done fin work so can propel forward …… but even 25m is a huge effort. Will get to work on ankle flexibility. Thank you.

  27. I never liked using the kick board the way you show, or doing the flutter kick on my side. With the kick board, the tendency is to have your head high, which makes your feet go down. Also that way makes it almost impossible to use your hip rotation, which is essential with getting more power in the kick. When I use the kick board, I use my snorkel. This gives proper body position, and I rotate my hips and shoulders, linking the pull stroke with the down kick on the same side. With the kicking on your side, it is again, next to impossible to rotate your hips as you kick. The one thing I like about it though is that your flutter kick becomes more of a scissor kick as used in side stroke, but not as big. You use the same scissor kick when you are in full stroke, with the first kick going slightly sideways/more up and down, and the 2 and 3 kick are full on scissor. I am going to get a set of the Aqua Fins, which are the only ones I have seen that are shaped like your foot/ergonomically correct and promote going pigeon toed and pronating your ankles. We don't have flat 2D feet like frogs….. Learning to go pigeon toed and pronating my ankles helped me take almost a minute off of my kicking lap time, 25 yard pool. that is how bad it was… For those who kick and don't go anywhere, mostly that is not pointing your toes. I saw one coach who told swimmers with the back stroke flutter kick to direct the kick to the ceiling. This is wrong. With the flutter kick, you don't direct that energy to the pool bottom or ceiling, you try to direct it back to the wall. I swim the old school over arm side stroke, and as Yogi Berra said, "You can observe a lot just by watching". Almost all freestylers have a slight flex at the ankle on the down stroke. These same swimmers don't have that same flex when doing the back stroke flutter kick.

  28. 4 Ways To Improve Freestyle Kick | Front Crawl Swimming Tips…

    Sweet! I really need to learn this! I'm a newbie swimmer!

    …For Triathletes

    Oh, nvm… o.o

  29. I seem to struggle with freestyle in the sense that when I tell my feet to kick they don't listen to me(while swimming full stroke). Any tips on how to fix this problem?

  30. I only use the kick board when using a snorkel. I turn it sideways, and keep it about 6 inches under water, which is about where you want your hands before you start your pull. I have my thumbs touching. Doing this, I rotate my shoulders, and hips to mimic, as closely as possible the kick I do when swimming freestyle, which is more sideways, and not straight up and down like you do here in the video. Also, going pigeon toed and pronating your ankles gives you a bit more ankle flex, and a more efficient surface for propulsion. You do this very well, but don't comment on it. Figuring this out took a huge amount of time off of my flutter kick laps. Keeping proper body posture when using a kick board the way you show here, is very difficult for the average swimmer, and most of the time their feet are very low. Getting your toes pointed is huge.

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