Swimmers are SO focused on producing power with the hands, arms, and upper body that they sometimes forget to finish the job, which means taking it all the way to the TOES.
We’ve all heard about the importance of "finishing the kick" in breaststroke, but this week let’s take it one step further. It’s not just about slamming the feet together, it’s about making sure the feet create as little resistance as possible after they’re together.
We’ve been working with the swimmer in the photos for some time, but as we filmed him doing this drill, we learned so much more about his kick that we know exactly what we’re going to have him do at his next practice! While some swimmers are able to overlap the feet, hiding one perfectly behind the other, this particular swimmer seems to do MUCH better once his feet are JUST a bit apart, and lying side-by-side. Sometimes this is the exact reason we spend so much of our time coaching from IN the water. There’s so much we can’t see from the deck.
With that said, let’s see what he’s doing great!
Why Do It:
Just when you think you’ve got your stroke figured out and there are no new focus points, there’s always something else in store. Focusing on the SMALLEST parts of your stroke makes you more aware of how many things there are to improve upon.
How To Do It:
1. Each time you kick breaststroke, think about pointing your toes completely. In fact, you may even think about curling them under to make sure they’re not disrupting ANY water.
2. By closing your kick completely each time, you’ll have a better chance of mastering this drill. Some swimmers can overlap, or hide one foot behind the other, to create a very sharp point at the back of the stroke. Some swimmers find this a bit more difficult and end up leaving one foot showing more than they had hoped.
3. When deciding how to finish and point the toes at the end, remember that your ankle bones stick out a bit farther than you might think. By finishing with your feet just a tad staggered, you’ll avoid smashing the bones together, and save yourself some "discomfort" (a nice way to say… IT CAN REALLY HURT!).
4. By focusing on pointing your toes this much, your REAL goal is to make sure the surface from your shin, along the top of your foot, and down to your toes, is as flat as possible. You want to be SURE there is NO bend in the ankle to disrupt the water. By pointing your toes THIS hard, you create a nice flat edge, and the water slips right on by.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Get used to sitting and pointing your toes as often as possible. Don’t sit on them for so long that your legs fall asleep, but try a few minutes when you watch TV — or before practice. Ankle flexibility is key to all the strokes, and by making sure you get into the habit of finishing your kick, and pointing your toes, you’ll not need to think about this. It will just happen.
Of course, all this takes time. You may even get some new cramps when you try this…those nice arch-of-the-foot-can’t-wait-to-get-to-the-other-end-to-push-off-to-get-them-out kind of cramps. LOVE THOSE! You know your working it when those happen.
Now get out there, and pretend you’re a ballerina!