Don’t enjoy kicking? We hate to break it to you, but you’re going to have to kick more if you want to swim faster!
Most swimmers struggle with kicking because their technique is inefficient and they aren’t doing enough kick training. Let’s take a look at proper freestyle kick technique, plus a few drills you can use to improve your kick mechanics and swim faster!
What Proper Freestyle Kick Technique Looks Like
In freestyle, your kick helps maintain proper body position, drive rotation and increase power. When your technique isn’t on point, you might find your legs dragging, and may have a tough time swimming without getting tired.
A good freestyle kick is:
- Hip Driven: Every kick should initiate from the hips. Keep the knees relaxed and they will naturally bend as you kick. A lot of swimmers drive their kick with a big bend in their knees, which isn’t very powerful and doesn’t effectively utilize all the muscles in the legs.
- Narrow: It’s tempting to want to kick as large as possible, but that’s not very powerful. The wider your kick extends beyond your bodyline, the more drag you create. Instead, focus on keeping your kick more narrow and within your bodyline. That means no more than about 18 inches (or ½ meter).
- Short & Fast: When your kick is more narrow, you can do shorter, faster kicks, which is more powerful than a big, slow kick. That massive kick is just not worth the extra drag. Imagine that you’re kicking your feet inside of a bucket to get a feel for the smaller amplitude.
Try These Drills to Improve Your Freestyle Kick
Vertical kick is a great way to challenge your kick and fix inefficiencies. Start by treading water. Then, start doing freestyle kick and lift your hands up out of the water. Maintain this for a specified interval (ex. 30-60 seconds).
If your kick is extra wide, you might find yourself sinking pretty quickly during vertical kick. To keep your head and hands above water, keep your kick narrow and quick.
For an extra challenge, try moving your hands into streamline while vertical kicking.
Streamline Kick on Your Back
Kicking in streamline will help you get a feel for proper body position. It’s also faster than kicking with a board, most of the time.
- Arms Overhead in Perfect Streamline: Hands stacked, arms squeezing the ears.
- Head in a Neutral Position: Look straight up at the sky.
- Hips High and Core Engaged: Try to keep the hips close to the surface of the water!
If you think you’re bending your knees too much when you kick, this drill will prove it. If your knees are popping out of the water when you kick on your back, that’s a sign you might need to work on hip-driven kick!
Drill Set to Improve Freestyle Kick
Add this quick set to your next workout to fire up your kick! Try not to rest between the vertical kick and 50 streamline kick.
4×50 Kick @ 1:45
- 30 seconds of vertical kick, straight into a 50 streamline kick on the back.
Pro Tips for Kick Sets
If improving your kick is a big priority, incorporate kick sets at least three times a week. Try the Kick Technique Bootcamp in the MySwimPro app for extra focus on your freestyle kick, or check out the Workout of the Day for a workout written by our expert coaches.
We recommend doing most of your kick sets without a kickboard to reinforce proper body position and practice streamline. There’s nothing wrong with kickboards, but you don’t want to become overly reliant on them!
It’s also a good idea to practice kicking on your front, back and side to improve your balance and feel of the water. Try the 3 Strokes 12 Kicks drill to work on side kicking.
Commit to regular kick training and work on technique, and soon you’ll notice a difference in your kick speed, power and efficiency.
Download the MySwimPro app to get started with your personalized Training Plan!