If you think pull buoys are just for pulling, you’ll get a real KICK out this new series of drills. It’s time to take a fresh look at your favorite pool toy.
If you’re like most swimmers, you LOVE your pull buoy. It’s the first piece of equipment to get stuffed into your mesh bag, and you love it when Coach assigns a long, hypoxic pull set. But there are other ways to use your favorite piece of equipment. KICKING is just one of them.
Why Do It:
Kicking breaststroke with a pull buoy has benefits for every level of swimmer. If you’re just learning breaststroke, kicking on your back with a pull buoy allows you to focus TOTALLY on your legs, ankles, and feet because you don’t have any worries about getting air. It allows you to peek down and see that your knees aren’t coming up too high. It ensures that you’ll learn a narrow recovery (rather than a spider-like recovery), and it helps to eliminate the dreaded scissors kick that plagues many young swimmers (and a few Masters swimmers, too!).
For more advanced swimmers, kicking breaststroke with a pull buoy helps you develop a narrow recovery of the legs, and helps you focus on pushing water with the INSTEP portion of your foot. If you don’t use the INSTEP when you do this drill, you’ll find that you go nowhere.
How To Do It:
1. Hold your pull buoy between the thighs, just as you would for a pull set. You’ll find that, for kicking, a one-piece pull buoy (such as the Zura Team Pull Buoy) is a little easier to hold in place than a two-piece pull buoy.
2. Push off on your back with your hands at your sides, and start kicking breaststroke. You’ll quickly realize that you have to turn out your ankles and push with the instep to get any power. If you don’t go anywhere at first, be patient and keep working on turning out the ankles. The swimmer in the photo is a national-level, age-group breaststroker, and he can touch his heels to his fingertips. This is something to work toward as you do the drill.
If your pull buoy keeps popping out, it usually means that you’re letting your knees separate too much on the kick. Just be patient and try again, A narrow kick uses slightly different muscles than a wide kick, so you have to gradually awaken and strengthen the new muscles. Keep in mind that you won’t SWIM breaststroke with your knees locked together like this (they’ll naturally separate when you take off the pull buoy), but using the pull buoy is a good way to awaken the right muscles for a powerful kick.
3. Once you’ve mastered this drill with hands at your sides, try it with your arms in streamline.
4. Finally, flip it over and swim whole-stroke breaststroke, but with the pull-buoy still in place. This will help you work on a lot of things in your stroke: Keeping the feet together with toes pointed during the recovery – Hiding the feet and calves behind the thighs during the recovery – Using the insteps to push water.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Try to touch your heels to your fingertips on each kick. This will allow you to get maximum leverage and power.
2. When you go to whole-stroke breaststroke with the pull buoy, focus on getting the hips up and over after each kick, and focus on riding in perfect streamline after each stroke.