Using kick boards in swimming has gotten such a bad wrap from ï¿½techniqueï¿½ people, that I thought Iï¿½d give another opinion and show how we use kick boards.
I think that there are HUGE advantages to using a small piece of styrofoam held out in front of you while kicking — emphasis on the word "small." While Iï¿½m not a fan of standard boards, I have grown to love the Zura Side Kick. If you want to call this a product plug, go for it, but I donï¿½t sell them, so itï¿½s from the heart.
Kicking with a board allows you to focus your attention and energy on the legs. Itï¿½s the same concept that applies to weight-lifting (when it’s done properly). The idea is to isolate and WORK one particular muscle group at a time. While people may argue that kicking with a board is bad because it puts your body in a bad position, I have yet to find a team that spends SO much time kicking that using a board becomes detrimental. When you weigh the drawbacks against the benefits of the intense burn you can create by kicking faster, harder, and with more oxygen, I’ll go with the kick board.
This particular drill/tactic that we use for kicking has become standard, and is great for working the abs and cardio system, especially for breaststrokers.
Why Do It:
The Kick Flip provides a great opportunity to work on your walls. You need to use your abs to get into a tuck (more difficult with styro in one hand). You need to work on breath control to manage both a flip AND an underwater kick. And you need to control the recovery of your legs after the pushoff so that you don’t lose momentum on your way up to the surface. Too wide of a recovery is the most typical place for swimmers to create resistance and slow down during the pullout.
How To Do It:
1. Hold the Side Kick out front, with both hands. This little board requires that the you be in a streamline position at all times, and itï¿½s small enough to man-handle through the turns.
2. As you approach the wall, you are allowed one stroke of freestyle to set up for the turn. Even though youï¿½re kicking breaststroke, thereï¿½s no use worrying that youï¿½ve switched to a flip turn simply because with ANY board, you were about to do a one handed turn anyway, which… last time I checked, is illegal anyway.
3. PUSH OFF DEEP. As you come out of the turn, you have to remember that youï¿½re carrying something very buoyant. It wants to come up, and youï¿½re going to have to hold it down. In the video, youï¿½ll notice the young skinny swimmer has a more difficult time coming off in a direct line, while the older, MUCH more powerful and a bit denser swimmer is able to control the board with much more ease. 🙂
4. After you push off, prepare to recover the feet. Keep your eyes down, and your hands on the board, which means streamline. Recover your feet with the eyes still down and focused on the bottom. Try to make sure you donï¿½t slow down as you recover your feet.
5. Come to the surface, and continue kicking to the other end…repeat!
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Integrity in all things you do in the water is KEENLY important in reaching your potential. Looking for opportune places to improve, rather than rest, is one way elite athletes separate themselves from the rest. Using different, more unique tools, and utilizing them in ways that teach, remind, and demand while you train is what good tools are all about. Oh…and to do it REALLY well, itï¿½s important to find the ugliest suit possible. 🙂