Dry Kicking for Freestyle and Backstroke
Perform this on dry land, on a warm, comfortable surface. Remove your shoes. Practice dry kicking carefully and frequently until the movement patterns are second nature. Put aside six minutes a day for this for just one week, and you will be amazed at the difference in the water! In three weeks, you should have a solid freestyle flutter kick.
Posture: Maintain good swimming posture (belly in, neck tall, chin back).
Breathing: Even, deep, relaxed. After the kicking movement pattern becomes automatic, you get extra points for adding swimming breathing (out slowly through the nose, in quickly through the mouth).
Kicking technique: Engage your core (belly in). Kick from the top of your leg. Keep the kick small, with less than 12 inches of vertical movement at your feet. Point your toes away. Keep your knees straight, but not locked.
Note: when you point your toes away, if you are not creating a relatively flat surface from toes to knees, you need to do some Ankle Mobility Work.
Rhythm: Keep a steady, even pace. Count your kicks in threes: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, etc. Every kick counts - in other words, don't just count each time you kick your right foot. Make every first kick a little more forceful. This will alternate the emphasis from one side to the other. Begin extremely slowly, so that each kick is performed with perfect technique (see above). Remember, this is about creating the right muscle movement pattern. Do not rush it. First make the movement comfortable and smooth, and then speed it up. Gradually increase your kicking speed to about three kicks per second. Why count in threes? Because generally you will be taking a single arm stroke for every three kicks. And why count? As the Duke said, "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." (But don't get that song in your head while trying to count threes! It's way too fast. If you need music, start with something slow in the range of 1-beat-per second - lots of country songs come to mind.)
Duration and Repeats: Initially, kick for no more than 10 seconds at a time. Rest for as long as you need before kicking again. Gradually increase the kicking time to one minute. The goal is to kick for one minute, three times. Initially, repeat three times on your back, and then three times on your belly. After you get to about 30 seconds of kicking, alternate the positions and eliminate the rest time. In other words, kick 30 seconds on your back and then without resting, roll over and kick 30 seconds on your belly (kicking a total of three times in each position).
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