Too often do beginning swimmers focus solely on the development of the upper body, incorrectly assuming that the arms and shoulders do it all. Nothing could be a bigger mistake for the novice swimmer, as he needs to consider creating a balanced approach based on sound fundamentals and seamless technique.
Making sure you develop a kick that is strong and consistent will help you cut the water smoother and more efficiently; however, just kicking away aimlessly will do more harm than good. Instead, you need to have an almost effortless propulsion that aids the work your upper body is doing, and it all must work in sync with one another.
Consider the following ideas when analyzing your kick. If you can integrate these into your swim, you’ll find yourself much improved in a rather short period of time. Even if you are more experienced, reflect on whether or not these are consistent parts of your technique.
1. Pointed toe: Your toes should stretch away from your shoulders as far as possible. If they remain in this position, they can better move water as you kick, thus pushing you forward. However, if you get lazy feet and your toes angle downwards, you not only decrease your kick efficiency, but you also generate needless drag, as the tops of your feet act like mini boards being pulled through the water.
2. Central position: Your feet should be close together and between your hips. If you pulled strings in a straight line off both hips down toward your ankles, your kick should stay well within them. If your feet get outside those lines, you become unbalanced and again make too much drag. Also, the closer your feet are, the more centralized the kicking action is, so they better work as a team to push you ahead.
3. Relaxed feet: Rigid feet create tension, and tension hinders movement. If you see a fish swim, its tail is entirely flowing, almost as if no effort is being invested. You too must concentrate on keeping your flippers completely relaxed and make them flag-like. Being frantic or overdoing it will throw off your symmetry and reduce your efficiency. During any athletic movement, you should reduce the tension as much as possible. Muscles naturally carry their own rigidity when performing, but they do it when needed. Additional stress injected by you will deter the muscles from optimal performance, so stay relaxed in your training and it will transfer into your competition.
4. Pace: Neither slow, overly relaxed kicks nor excessively aggressive kicks will do much to help you cut the water. One won’t get you any place and the other will drain you of critical energy. So, to remedy the situation, try to establish a simple cadence that works in harmony with your stroke. Possibly two kicks per stroke. This way the swim becomes melodic and efficient.
5. Read the splash: The wake you send behind you should result from your foot moving the water beneath the surface, not from your foot pulling air down into the water from the surface. If you allow your feet to exit the water and have to come back down through the surface, you are overextending the kick and giving yourself no benefit. Fix this by reducing the bend in your knees and concentrating on keeping the bottoms of your feet wet.
Overall, swimming well requires that you analyze every part of your technique. Looking closely at how well you kick will allow you to increase your efficiency and become a faster, more productive swimmer.