swimming kicking drills

Kicking drills you need for your swim spa routine

When it comes to swimming technique, there might be something that surprises you about the world’s best swimmers and triathletes. Long-distance swimmers like Katie Ledecky do not rely on a strong kick to help move them through the water. In fact, the kick is more about maintaining good body position rather than propulsion. 

Fun fact: Evidence shows that a swimmer’s kick provides minimal power, accounting for 15 percent — at maximum. 

However, just because the kick provides only a swimmer’s fraction power does not mean you can ignore it. A weak or inefficient kick and poor body position can create drag and slow you down in the water.

Drills can help you improve your kick, body position, and overall time in the water. But you don’t have to head to the local pool to incorporate these drills into your programs. In a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa, you can take advantage of the grab bar and Wave XP Pro system without ever leaving home.

swim spa kicking
Your kick is an important part of your swimming technique. While it doesn’t provide a lot of power, a bad kick can slow you down.

Elements of a good kick

It seems so simple. Hop in the water, start swimming, and kick as you go. However, swimmers know that there’s much more to an efficient kick than just moving your legs in the water. 

When you are trying to improve your kick and body position in the water, it’s important to remember the fundamentals. Your kick will be driven by the hips and propelled by your hips.

Is swimming a literal drag? You might be surprised to discover that the reason your legs are sinking is your feet. A key element of good swim form is ankle flexibility. Swimmers with a fast kick will have flexible ankles. Your feet should be able to move and flex naturally in the water, which will push water behind you instead of down. Your toes should not point down nor should you stiffen your body to keep feet in an extreme pointed position.

On land, it might feel like you are kicking with your legs. In the water, the power comes from the hips. There can be a tendency to bend the knees to start your kick. However, you should initiate the movement from the hips and the knee should only be slightly bent.

swim spa swimming
You can use a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa to focus on your swimming form, including your kick.

Kicking drills for the swim spa

Drills that focus on kicking are often incorporated into a swim set or used as a warm-up during a lesson. With a kickboard in hand, you use your legs to propel you from one side of the pool to the other. Maybe it’s 25-meter sets at first and then, as you progress, 50-meter sets.

But you can easily move your kicking drills to a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa. Use them as part of your set or spend a session each week dedicated to your kick. Without having to share a lane or a perceived audience, you can take the time you need to make the progress you want.

Keep in mind that with any kicking drill, especially in a swim spa, you will want to keep your core engaged.

Swim with fins

Professional triathlete Meredith Kessler incorporates swimming with fins as part of her regular training. Not only do the fins help with ankle flexibility and overall efficiency, Kessler is able to use a hard effort to flush lactic acid. For this drill, she wears a swim snorkel so that she can maintain a streamline position. 

How to do the drill: Secure or slip fins onto your feet. Hold onto the stainless-steel grab with arms fully extended and the head in a neutral position. Kick as hard as you can for 1 minute; rest. Repeat for up to five sets.

Flutter kick drill

A benefit of kicking drills is to emphasize good body position or reteach your body. For a flutter kick drill in the swim spa, you can have the option of wearing a snorkel so that you don’t have to lift your head to breathe.

How to do the drill: Hold the grab bar with arms fully extended, mimicking the streamline position. Gently flutter kick as you press your upper body into the water. 

For a variation of this drill, you can hold the grab bar with one hand while the other is at your side. You can also wear fins for this variation to reinforce good body position.

Backstroke drill

The goal of this drill is to avoid sitting in the water. You want your hips to be at the surface as you “float” on your back.

How to do the drill: Float on your back and hold onto the stainless steel board. Extend your legs and gently kick. Be sure to point the toes and use your hips to move the legs.

Narrow channel focus

Bigger is not better when it comes to kicking in the water. The most efficient swimmers will have a fast narrow kick (as opposed to a scissor kick). When you are doing a kicking drill, you can do several sets that focus on keeping your feet in a narrow channel.

How to do the drill:  Hold onto the bar and get into a streamline position. Bring your hips to the surface of the water but keep your feet under. Kick swiftly under the water while maintaining a narrow position. 

Single leg kicking

There are two phases to the kick — the up portion and the down portion. If you are just out for a swim, though, you might not distinguish between the two phases. The single-leg kicking drill can help you emphasize the up phase of your kick.

How to do the drill:  You can hold onto the grab bar or turn the Wave XP Pro system on a low setting and hold a kickboard in front of you. Kick with just one leg four times, kick as normal four times, and then kick with the other leg four times.

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