f you ever watched an Olympic final or world championship final in any freestyle event, you probably noticed, that world-class swimmers not only have a near-perfect freestyle stroke but also an unstoppable freestyle kick. In fact, some of these world-class swimmers can kick 50, or 100, or even 200 meters in times that most of us can only dream of swimming with a full freestyle stroke. But why is the freestyle kick so important for the overall freestyle stroke, and what does it take to develop an unstoppable freestyle kick? In this blog article, we are going to answer these questions for you and give you tips that you can implement in your daily training sessions to improve your freestyle kick and take your freestyle to the next level.
Why is kicking so important for a great freestyle stroke
It’s important to understand that your kick is more than just a short break for your shoulders and arms. Too often swimmers neglect their kick because it’s too exhausting to train because it’s not important, or simply because they are not good at it. But a great freestyle kick brings many benefits for your entire freestyle stroke with it.
With a strong freestyle kick comes added propulsion for your entire freestyle stroke. The equation here is very simple – the faster your freestyle kick, the higher your added propulsion, the faster your freestyle stroke.
A great freestyle kick also gives you a great water position. By kicking faster and more efficiently, your hips and torso will be higher on the water surface and you will face less water resistance while swimming. Especially for sprinters, a higher body position in the water can be a game-changer to their entire sprint stroke. To read more about a great freestyle streamline, check out our Top 2 Freestyle Streamline Secrets, revealed article.
Swimmers often complain about losing their rhythm. With a strong and constant freestyle kick, you will have no problem keeping your stroke together and swimming with a balanced freestyle stroke. A strong freestyle kick helps you maintain a great rhythm while swimming freestyle.
A great kick also adds power to your hip rotation and thus helps you drive your arms forward and pull backward again. A great kick increases the strength of your catch and helps you swim freestyle with a more dynamic arm pull. To learn more about a powerful catch and drill phase for your freestyle stroke, check out our 4 Foolproof Freestyle Catch and Pull Drills article.
What it takes to cultivate a fierce freestyle kick
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to developing an unstoppable freestyle kick. However, with consistency and smart training, everyone can greatly improve their kick in as little as a few weeks. So now that we know that the only way to improve your freestyle kick is by actually training it, it’s time to learn what it takes to develop an unstoppable freestyle kick. By implementing the following 3 tips to your daily training, you will quickly see the results you are looking for.
Tip #1 – Improve your ankle strength and flexibility
Swimmers spend the majority of their training time in the water, with the only real stress on their ankles being the push-off after a turn. Compared to athletes on land, the ankle strength can therefore often be inferior. But ankle stability and ankle strength are essential for a greater freestyle kick. The best way to improve your ankle strength is by adding skipping to your daily warm-up and/or dryland plan. Skipping is a very low-impact way to quickly develop stronger ankles and calves. It will also improve your overall athleticism and endurance.
To maintain great ankle flexibility while building your strength, make sure you also add ankle rocker stretch and ankle rotations to your daily warm-up and/or dryland routine. Having flexible ankles helps you catch more water when you are kicking and increases your ankle and foot mobility in the water. If you are suffering from low-mobility ankles, these two stretches can be a huge game-changer for your kicking abilities. Because ultimately, ankle flexibility (and ankle strength) can make or break your freestyle kicking abilities.
Tip #2 – Focus on the up AND down movement
Most swimmers are only focusing on the downward movement of their freestyle kick and forget about how crucial the upward movement is. Instead of viewing the upward movement as a recovery movement, try to actively incorporate this movement in your kick. With this simple tip, you can instantly improve the power of your freestyle kick.
If you have never actively focused on the upward movement of your kick, then you will probably lack the power to do so for entire sets or races. The best way to train your upward movement is by doing vertical kicks. Incorporate vertical kicking sets into your daily training and you will quickly see massive improvements in your freestyle kick. To further improve your upward movement, add weight a weight belt or drag socks to your kicking training.
Tip #3 – Kick, kick, kick and kick
Unfortunately, there is no real shortcut to an unstoppable freestyle kick. However, anyone can become a great kicker by adding more kicking sets to your training sessions. Add an extra 10-20 minutes of different kicking exercises to every training session, and after just a few weeks, you will notice huge improvements. Make sure to mix low intensity with high-intensity kicking, and also switch between using a kickboard and not using a kickboard.
If you are already feeling comfortable with your freestyle kick, but want to further improve it, spice things up a bit. Add ankle weights, or resistance socks, or do even more high-intensity kicking sets. Your legs will thank you on that last lap of your next race when there is still juice left to finish fast.
Now it’s time for you to take the guesswork out of swimming faster freestyle! Make a plan towards your goal of an unstoppable freestyle kick and implement our tips into your future training sessions. To measure your improvements, we recommend training with the all-new TritonWear device. The wearable device tucks under your cap and records your workout as you swim. You remain focused on training and improve your freestyle stroke and kick while TritonWear captures the intel you need to swim faster. To learn more about how TritonWear shows swimmers their strengths and weaknesses based on data collected while you are swimming click here.