Mental Physical Technical Swimming


: Minimal Kick

Minimal Kick

30 Oct

A tight, symmetrical, continuous kick is ideal for backstroke and freestyle, but kicking in this manner can be extremely taxing from both technical and physical standpoints. To encourage this type of kicking action, the holistic coach offers the following three-step progression:

Step 1: Swimmers lie face up in the water for backstroke or face down in the water for freestyle with the head placed in a neutral or near-neutral position. The arms are squeezed against the sides of the body with the legs and feet together. From here swimmers attempt to maintain a horizontal body position with a minimal kick (the least effort possible). The kick must be hard enough to maintain a horizontal position without added forward momentum.

Step 2: Step one is repeated only with one arm extended directly behind the shoulder for backstroke or directly in front of the shoulder for freestyle with added kicking intensity. The kick must be sufficiently hard to propel swimmers slowly down the pool.

Step 3: Step two is repeated only swimmers transition from the step two position into full stroke backstroke or freestyle. In the case of freestyle, breathing is initially eliminated or reduced, as improper breathing technique can interrupt the flow of the kick. Through repeated attempts swimmers develop the ability to maintain a tight, symmetrical, continuous backstroke or freestyle kick with minimal effort, greatly enhancing the technical quality of the stroke. 

Note: Once a minimal kick is established, greater kicking intensity is added. The minimal kick concept adds the many benefits of a six-beat kick without a dramatic increase in workload. Its use is highly recommended in extended backstroke sets, endurance-type freestyle events, or distance training.

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