On those days whe you just don’t feel like getting your hair wet…here’s a fun way to get in a great workout.
Vertical kicking is one of the most under-used "secret weapons" in swimming. One reason it’s under-used is because it looks more like aqua aerobics than swimming, and to do it without drowning you have to wear one of those funny-looking belt thingys. But don’t be fooled. Vertical kicking is tough stuff. And if you decide to try it without the belt thingy, it is REALLY tough stuff.
Why Do It:
Vertical kicking can help you learn a proper breaststroke kick…and can help you break some stubborn bad habits (like scissor-kicking). It allows you to focus totally on your feet and legs, and even allows you to SEE your feet and legs, which is a big plus for swimmers who can’t feel the difference between a scissors kick and a symmetrical kick (and there are a lot of these swimmers!).
If you’ve already mastered the breaststroke kick, vertical kicking can increase your ankle strength and flexibility. It also allows you to kick at a higher RATE or CADENCE than if you were kicking on a board or without the use of your arms. And…if you do single-leg vertical kicking, you can identify subtle imbalances in your kick. If one leg is stronger or more "coordinated" than the other, for example, or if one ankle is more flexible than the other, it will quickly show up if you do single-leg kick. Vertical kicking is also a great way to work on developing a narrow recovery of the feet. To have a fast turnover on vertical kicking, you have to learn how to pull up your feet with little or no resistance.
How To Do It:
1. Put on a flotation device. You can’t see it in the photos or video, but this swimmer is wearing a flotation device around her waist. A flotation device allows you to maintain good posture and allows you to really focus on what your feet and legs are doing — without worrying about AIR. It also allows you to kick for a longer period of time and get in a better workout.
2. Hop in the deep end and do several minutes of easy flutter kicking and/or water "running" to get warmed up.
3. Start doing breaststroke kick with one leg. Focus on using the inside edge of the foot to push water down toward the bottom. You’ll probably notice that you go sideways when you do this, and that you move up and down a little bit.
4. Take 5 to 10 kicks with one leg, then take 5 to 10 kicks with the other leg. You’ll start to go sideways in the other direction.
5. Take 5 to 10 kicks with both legs simultaneously. Focus on pushing down with the inside of the feet. Focus on FINISHING each kick. And focus on keeping the feet and knees fairly narrow on the recovery.
6. Repeat 5 to 10 kicks on one leg, then the other leg, then both legs together. Once you get the hang of it, try to increase your cadence, but remember to finish each kick.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Try to keep your rhythm steady and your motions fluid and continuous. Try to transition quickly and smoothly from one leg to the other.
2. Point your toes as you finish each kick.
3. For a good workout, try several rounds of this sequence: 10 Left/10 Right/10 Together/9 Left/9 Right/9 Together/ 8 Left/8 Right/8 Together, etc., down to 1Left/1 Right/1 Together.
Then Go Swim Breaststroke!