Sure-Fire Way to Engage the Core During Kick Sets

By SwimSwam Partner Content
April 19th, 2018
Swimming gear info courtesy of SwimmersBest, a SwimSwam partner.

Kicking with a traditional kickboard (aka, ‘social kicking’) has long been argued to have limited value due to poor body position and added ‘core support’ from the board. Both problems can be minimized by keeping the board fully extended and in front of streamlined arms, but this begs the question: ‘why have a board at all?’ Even with good body alignment, traditional kickboards provide occasional, unwanted support and lift and are rarely anything but a nuisance in and out of the walls. To that end, more and more kick sets are logically done without a board.

Unlike traditional kickboards, neutrally-buoyant, alignment kickboards like the SwimmersBest Lil’ Red Kick can provide a host of valuable benefits for your kick sets. The Lil’ Red Kick is neutrally buoyant, which is simply another way of saying ‘it barely floats!’ This alignment kickboard can barely hold up its own weight, and it therefore provides no support for the swimmer. This instability forces the swimmer to use their core to stabilize their streamline on and off the walls and throughout kick sets. Unlike kicking without any board, the Lil’ Red Kick helps align the streamline position and forces the core to constantly make micro changes in the body alignment to support itself as well as the weight added from the board. The swimmer has a myriad of ways to hold the board; this not only helps distract from the boredom of kick sets but also challenges the swimmer to use different hand positions throughout every kick set. Each method of holding the board creates different body alignment feedback for the swimmer during kick sets and off walls.

Normal foam kickboards with embedded weights and small, foam alignment kickboards cause additional problems to form in and out of walls. The floatation and the surface area of traditional ‘alignment kickboards’ and ‘neutrally buoyant kickboards’ don’t allow for a natural streamline, undulation, or breakout, causing sloppy walls and poor form. The Lil’ Red Kick is both neutrally buoyant AND designed with alignment at its core; this makes it the perfect blend to allow good streamlines in and out of each wall. The swimmer can feel the water from the fingers and down through the arms to ensure straight streamlines instead of ‘arching’ their wall push-offs – the point where other boards push the swimmer up to the surface too early.

Since the Lil’ Red Kick has real weight to it, this alignment board also adds completely new benefits to any kick set. When on your back, the board’s weight helps ensure the arms and hands stay at the surface instead of pointing up into the air. Holding the board overhead can provide a weighted challenge for any vertical kick sets. The removable elastic velcro straps allows you to add anywhere from ¼ pound to 4 pounds of weight with the SwimmersBest Weight Bags that slide on any off any 2” band or belt.

But the Lil’ Red Kick’s small size makes it equally ideal for a host of technique stroke drills, such as 6-kick switch or even in place of a pipe on catch-up drills. Swimmers can easily wrap their hand over the top nose of the Lil’ Red Kick and use it as a paddle in one or both hands during drills or into and out of turns.

So while foam kickboards may offer a good ‘social’ outlet for some kick sets and the use of no board can be ideal to train good body alignment, the Lil’ Red Kick can provide completely new categories of body alignment, core engagement, streamlines, weighted workouts, and endless other applications during any given workout.