Kicking hard without going anywhere, can’t speed up or get tired after just one lap? You are probably making one (or all) of these common kicking mistakes.
Leg muscles are bigger than the arm muscles and require more oxygen. Fifty metres of pull feels completely different than fifty metres of kick. In fact, fifty metres of kick feels quite hard and tiring. The heart rate goes up and it doesn’t feel easy at all. The intensity is higher than just swimming normally or with arms only. But it all feels even harder when performing the kick technique the wrong way.
Here are five common mistakes when kicking:
1. Holding your breath
The first thing you always want to do when swimming is to control your breathing. Holding your breath will make the heart rate go up like crazy. So when you are kicking with a kick board, make sure you are breathing in and out continuously. Either by keeping your head out of the water while kicking or by breathing out under water to relax your neck. Watch our Kick & Breathe drill video to master this.
2. Poor body positioning
Kicking in swimming cannot be done without the activation and use of the transverse abdominus muscles, a layer of muscles under the abs that are also known as 'core' muscles. To activate these muscles, pull in your belly button while kicking. This will do the trick. In the meantime, try to keep your butt high in the water for less drag. Also make sure to keep your arms stretched on the kick board when kicking. This wil keep your upper body straight and streamlined.
3. Stiff knees and ankles
This is where the biggest challenge lies, especially for triathletes and male swimmers. Men tend to have naturally stiff ankles whereas women seem to be more flexible in this area. Legs that are too stiff and straight cannot transfer power to the feet. Initiate the kick from the hips and bend the knees slightly, transferring the power to the feet with a flicking motion. Point the toes at the end of every kick. Keep the ankles flexible and relaxt. It may be helpful to imagine that you are trying to kick off your shoe.
4. Wrong size and rhythm
Kicking too small and too fast won’t get you anywhere. Neither will kicking too big and too slow. It is all about finding the right size and rhythm when it comes to the flutter kick. Kick with a steady rhythm is what matters most. The heels of your feet should break the waterline most of the time. That way you know your feet are positioned high in the water. It is inevitable that there will be some splashing but try to keep this to a minimum. You don't want your feet too far out of the water.
5. No kick training
The biggest mistake of all is NOT to train the kick on a regular basis. Your kick only becomes stronger and more flexible with practice. Isolate your kick with a kick board and challenge yourself to swim longer distances on a slow pace. If you have trouble moving forward, then start out with using fins. However, take them off at the end of the set and finish it on your own strength. Check out are kick workouts in our Kick & Pull workout collection and start improving your kick today.