By SwimSwam Partner Content
September 20th, 2018
Swimming training courtesy of SwimmersBest, a SwimSwam partner
Competitive swimming relies heavily on the kick of each stroke. While science may show that the kick only provides 10% of the propulsion, it is still a crucial aspect in your race pace. During practice, the kick is also essential to the quality of any cardio practice sets. The challenge with the kick is that most swimmers learn to swim when they are very young, and their kick technique improves very little without radical changes to their fundamental kick technique. Here are 3 ways you can completely transform you kick over a few months to swim faster and with more power.
Mesh bags on your feet can create a brand-new body position. Some swimmers wearing mesh bags may at first slog through the water with a lot of knee bend while trying to push from the front of their calves. However, a proper technique utilizing the bags should have the feet very shallow at the surface to create a higher body position and better body balance. The bags will also improve ankle flexibility and a help minimize knee bend. Products like the SwimmersBest Power Bags can be worn on the calves, feet, arms, hips and more. As a transition, swimmers can start with the Power Bags around the calves for an easy way to become accustomed to using bags. For a harder kick, the bottom strap can be ‘closed’ or the bags can be worn over fins.
Recovery Muscle Development
Science has documented that over 70% of kick power is from the ‘propulsive phase,’ which is the forward direction (like kicking a football). The back direction is considered the ‘recovery phase,’ and even though the recovery phase has less than 30% of our power this is an easy area for competitive swimmers to improve their power. One of the largest limitations is that swimmers tend to ‘drop’ the ankles on the recovery phase, and practicing with fins encourages them to drop even more. To remedy this, SwimmersBest offers ¼ pound and ½ pound Weight Bags to easily focus on recovery power. These weights work with gravity for the ‘down kick’ but make swimmers work against gravity on the upkick. They can be attached to the ankle, around the feet, or on your fins. Weights on the feet or ankles are ideal to help build more recovery (up) power on all stroke types.
Engage the Kick from the Glutes
Certainly, the newest and most unique option available to transform a kick is the SwimmersBest FlexRight. These are plastic panels that strap around the back of the knee to minimize the amount of knee bend used in a kick. The FlexRights will force the engagement of new muscle groups, starting at the glute muscles. This ‘elongates’ the kick to engage larger muscle groups for more rotation and propulsion power. Butterfly will also improve from the FlexRights by helping swimmers connect individual core muscles for a more powerful fly. Underwaters will also be improved when the FlexRight help ensures undulations start with the chest and flow through the legs with minimal knee bend.
All 3 of these methods can help improve your speed, power, technique, body alignment, and body balance. As with anything in swimming, repetition and the quality of workouts are essential to making quality changes. A swimmer’s ingrained kicking method has evolved over many, many years, and it won’t change after just a few practices. A routine schedule that combines weekly use of these 3 methods will ensure the best long-term evolution of kick quality.