Lesson 2: Kick and Ankles

How you incorporate your kick is a critical issue for triathletes. Firstly, you want to save your legs for the run and bike. Secondly, the legs only provide about 10% of propulsion for top swimmers, so why spend all your time depending on the most inefficient portion of your swim? However, the legs can slow down your swim if you do not; keep them close to the surface, kick at a tempo in sync with your stroke, and help balance out your body. Lastly as a triathlete, you need to be aware of ankle flexibility: if your feet don’t point back, they create drag resistance.

Goal: Your legs should help with your rotation and stay UP UP UP and out of the way so they don’t add to drag

Self Analysis: Video yourself from front and the side for future reference

Sensory Drill: Kick-only with a snorkel – point toes toward the floor for 10 kicks and then flex them back directly behind you (as hard as you can) for the next 10 kick. Repeat for 50-100 yards.
FEEL: Learn what it feels when dropped ankles cause drag and reduce power

Finds: Ankles
Review your video and compare to our photos to see if you naturally drop your ankles


Fixes: Drills and methods to fix your ankle problems
Drill 1:

Use 1Flexband with our dryland Plantar Flex exercise regularly. As a runner and a biker, your ankles will be rigid and will take time to improve. Place both feet in center cuff with one heel on top of the other. Flex feet in opposite direction. Switch the top foot.

Drill 2: Use Power Bags on feet for kick and swim sets to improve ankle flexibility


Finds: Knees
Review your video (from side view) and compare to our photos to see if you have too much knee bend (ideally your feet should just barely break the surface of the water with each kick and not extend down more than 12” under the surface)

Fixes: Drills and methods to fix your knee problems (swim 50-100 yards with each drill using a snorkel)

Drill 1: Use 1Flexband (1 ankle thru each outer cuff) with kick only

Comprehend: if you are not using much knee bend, the 1FlexBand used this way should NOT put much pressure on your legs/ankles

Drill 2:

Use Power Bags on each foot – kick only (kick near surface with minimal knee bend and max ankle extension)

Drill 3:

Use Power Bags on each foot – swim (with a snorkel) to develop better long-term habits


Fixes: Drills and methods to create a 1 beat and 3-beat kick pattern (use snorkel on all of these drills)
Your kick must now coordinate with your stroke or will cause tempo and propulsion problems. Ideally in a triathlon you would just kick 1 time for each stroke. However, because of the need to support your head while constantly sighting forward, you will need a 3-beat kick pattern to support the weight of sighting.

Drill 1:

Pull Only while naturally ‘scissoring’ your legs apart as you rotate your upper body.
Comprehend: there is a natural rotation of the entire body that will allow the legs to scissor open

Drill 2:

Same as drill #1 but add the 1flexband (1 foot in each outer cuff).
Comprehend: Make sure you keep the band stretched apart at all times as you scissor your legs from one side to side

Drill 3:

Remove the 1Flexband and repeat Drill #1 but this time add force to each ‘downkick’
Comprehend: Now you can feel the timing of the natural scissor as an actual kick. You should also learn WHEN these kicks occur with your stroke. The leg MUST start down as the opposite hand enters the water. The thigh will then press down into the hand on the same tide as the single kick finishes. This will be important to FEEL as you learn a 3-beat kick with each stroke.

Drill 4:

Single arm stroke with non-stroking arm up (both hands with Glide paddle), add 1 beat kick
Comprehend: you now need to learn to connect the opposite down kick with the stroke. Kick as the hand enters.

Drill 5:
6-Kick switch – kick 6 times with 1 arm up (ready to stroke) and the other down, every 6 kicks, take a hard strong stroke
Comprehend: you need to make sure that the 1st kick of each cycle matches the hand entry of the opposite arm.

Drill 6:

3-kick switch – this will become your ‘real’ stroke pattern… 3 kicks for each arm. The 1st kick starts down as your opposite hand enters. The 4th kick will start down as the second arm enters the water. When done correctly every stroke will finish as a thigh presses down into the hand on the same side of the body … every stroking hand connect with the same size thigh as the stroke finishes and the leg finishes.

Repeat: Practice these drills regularly and re-video yourself in a month or less


Cardio Workout Examples:

Workout 1:

  • 25 Back Kick Race pace
  • 25 360 T-Press recovery pace
  • 50 kick w/snorkel Race Pace
  • 25  Back Kick recovery pace
  • Less than :20 second break
  • 25 Back kick Race Pace

Lesson 3: Arm Recovery and Hand Entry