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Mental Physical Technical Swimming

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: It’s All In The Kick!

It’s All In The Kick!

08 May

In my book, The Swimming Triangle, I mention that there are three kinds of breaststrokers in the world: natural breaststrokers, IM breaststrokers, and everybody else. Natural breaststrokers make the stroke look easy as they glide effortlessly down the pool. IM breaststrokers are able to put together a respectable breaststroke leg in the IM, but could never beat a natural breaststroker head on. Unfortunately, everybody else who swims breaststroke struggles at best, lacking the technical know-how and physical ability to muster any significant speed. To them, breaststroke is like speaking a foreign language.

So what’s the biggest difference between natural breaststrokers and the other two? Basically, it comes down to the kick and two key elements within the kick – leg strength and mobility.

In terms of strength, the straightening of the legs at the knees, via the all-powerful quadriceps, is the most powerful movement the human body can perform. Having said that, natural breaststrokers have: (1) strong quadriceps, allowing them to generate greater power during the kick-back phase of the kick; (2) strong adductor muscles, allowing them to generate more power as the legs draw together at the conclusion of the kick; and (3) strong ankles, allowing the feet to evert (point out) at the top of the kick, and invert (point in) at the finish of the kick.

In terms of mobility, natural breaststrokers have all the bases covered. They have: (1) the ability to draw the heels closer to the butt during the recovery phase of the kick, due to greater mobility in the hip flexors, quadriceps, and knees; (2) the ability to set the feet and lower legs in the ideal catch position at the top of the kick, due to greater mobility in the hips, knees, and ankles; and (3) the ability to keep the surface of the feet (inside edge and sole) oriented against the water throughout the kick-back phase and finish phase of the kick, due to greater mobility in the ankles.

Ideas on how to strengthen the breaststroke kick and improve mobility can be found inThe Swimming Triangle.


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