Originally published June 2, 2006
When you’re swimming freestyle, there are so many things to think about that it’s hard to zero in on the kick. In fact, many swimmers don’t even know how many kicks they take per stroke cycle, let alone know how many kicks are ideal, or where they should be placed. Here’s a drill that builds your awareness for what’s happening "back there" and how it affects your stroke.
Why Do It:
Doggie Dig with Two-Beat Kick helps you focus on a part of the stroke that you can’t see. It helps you FEEL for rhythm.
How To Do It:
1. If you have a weak kick or pull, you might want to wear fins for this drill. The Zura Alpha fins, because they’re small and light, work really well.
2. Push off in streamline, but break out into doggie dig instead of freestyle. Keep your head out of the water and try to look straight ahead, without moving your head from side to side.
3. Once you get the hang of the doggie dig, slow things down a bit so that you are taking just one kick and one pull at a time. Ahhhhh — but WHICH kick goes with WHICH pull?????
4. Now comes the fun part. Experiment with your options. You can kick and pull with opposing limbs-or with same-side limbs. Try one length where you initiate the pull and kick at the same time with the same-side limbs. Now try a length where you initiate the pull and kick with opposing limbs. Be sure to take enough rest between lengths so that you make it a fair test. Which way feels more natural to you? Which way gives you better hip rotation?
5. Once you can switch between doing the drill with opposing limbs and with same-side limbs. Try another experiment. Do the drill with opposing limbs for half a length, then put your head down and start swimming — but maintain the same kick timing. Does it feel natural and coordinated?
6. Now drill half a length with same-side limbs, then swim with the same kick timing. How does THIS way feel?
7. Experiment for a few more lengths of each. Then just SWIM with your regular kick, paying attention to how the kicks are fitting into the stroke cycle. Can you pick out the two kicks that correspond to initiation of the two pulls and to your body rotation?
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
There’s no "correct" way to do this drill. Some swimmers will feel grooved with same-side initiation – some with opposing initiation. You might even find that one way feels right for the drill, but wrong for swimming. You’re doing the drill really well if it has given you a heightened awareness of your kick and how it meshes with your armstrokes and hip rotation.