Freestyle Kick

The freestyle kick is a little more complex than most non-swimmers think.  It is not just about kicking your legs forward and backward in a scissor-type fashion.  There are also various styles for the kick.  Just because you see a lot of water churning behind a swimmer does not mean he or she has a good kick.  We have compiled some of the basic principles behind a good free kick and have listed some of the different styles below.


Core Kick.  Contrary to the layman's belief, the free kick does not start at the knee.  It begins in your core.  A good free kick starts at a minimum at your hips (sprints) and at a maximum up by your chest (distance).  Just like with the butterfly kick, a really strong kick will start in the upper body and will follow down through to the feet.  The method you use to get your body into it can include body roll and/or a small dolphin action.  Usually they are combined, and normally the dolphin is so subtle, it doesn't fell like you are even dolphining.  But since your body will generate and upward and downward force to propel you, it is a psuedo-dolphin kick.

To further detail this principle, think of a baseball pitcher.  They use their entire body to get the maximum propulsion on one little baseball.  If they were to just stand there and use only their arm to throw the ball, we would never see 100 mph pitches.  We'd be lucky to see 50 mph!  The same goes with the kick.  The more body you can put into it, the better.

Stiff & Long Body.  What assists the core kick is a stretched out, flexed body.  You should feel as though your legs are integrated with your body. Instead of feeling like three separate components of your body (body and legs) acting apart.  They should be feel like one and act as one on your power kick.  At a minimum, they should feel like two components--your right and left side.  This means that as your body rolls to the right, it is initiating the down kick with the right leg.  Simultaneously the left leg is kicking upward as the left side of the body rolls up. And, as the body rolls back to the left it initiates the downward kick with the left leg and the upward kick with the right leg. For multiple kick cycles per stroke (sprints) many kicks can take place from the hip in between each of the power kicks. But the power kicks should be from the core.

Kick Underwater. Now, we know this is virtually impossible, but we feel that it is important that your consciously try to keep as much of your kick under the water rather than on the surface. This is because it has been proven that a kick beneath the surface is much more effective than one at the surface. It makes sense that pushing against the water would generate more force than pushing against the air. So while doing your free kick, try to keep those legs and feet beneath the surface as much as possible without disrupting your stroke. In sprints, it also help if you have your head up a bit. By raising your head your legs tend to sink.

Kicks Per Stroke. There is no set answer for this. What is true, however, is that you want to have more kicks per stroke in a sprint than you do in a distance event. Sprinters should be doing around 8 kicks per stroke. D-people should be kicking around 2 times per stroke. The reasons behind this are fairly easy to grasp. More kicks equal more energy spent, but also equal more speed. In a sprint, endurance is not a problem, so the more kicks are usually the better. At a minimum in any race, you should be doing your two power kicks per stroke cycle. When done in conjunction with a stretched out, integrated body roll, these kicks require little energy and still produce a good deal of speed. A diminishing rate of return results from each kick you add in between. What this means is that for each kick you add, the energy spent to perform the kick outweighs the benefit of speed gained by doing the kick. That is why you rarely see 8 beat kicks in distance events. However, the more endurance one gains, the more kicks one may be able to add without sacrificing stamina.