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Freestyle – Limit the Legs

If you’re a sprint freestyle swimmer, you want your kick to be FAST, COMPACT, and PRODUCTIVE. But what if you are a sprint freestyler with a fast kick, and you’ve been corralled into a 1650, or an open-water swim? Here’s a drill that can teach you how to TURN OFF that kick when you need to. And if you are a distance swimmer or triathlete, this drill can hel you SAVE your legs until you need them.

Why Do It:

Being able to control your level of effort — or the intensity of your kick — is a key skill in swimming. The first step to gaining control, is to be able to FOCUS on the body part that you want to control. This drill sequence requires that you focus on many aspects of your stroke — but especially on your KICK. Keep your focus on the legs through the entire drill sequence.

How To Do It:

1. This sequence requires some equipment and, as you can see, we keep many toys on hand to surprise the swimmers. Stage #1 is actually the toughest, but a great teacher. Band flutter kick requires a knotted-up strip of rubber – such as Theraband. Loop it around the ankles, and kick a 50 flutter, keeping the kick small, quick, and productive. The hard part is to keep moving, and you’ll see by the 2nd 25 just how fun this really is.

2. Stage #2 is even more fun. Hold a 10-pound med ball in the streamline position, and kick a 50 on your back. This requires strong abs and a constant, productive kick. This encourages quick feet.

3. Stage #3 uses a Speedo product called the Pulling Ankle Lock. This is kind of a velcro version of the shackles that you’d find in a maximum-security prison. Tying up the ankles is REALLY going to encourage balance, and a quick catch with the pull. By going directly from over-using the legs to not using them at all, you’ll have a chance to REST the legs as you develop a better body line for Stage #4.

4. In Stage #4 you simply SWIM… focusing ALL your thoughts on your kick. Keep it small and consistent, or small and flowing… the choice is yours.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

FOCUS. And in this particular set, what that means is: Try to ignore the pain and FOCUS on what you’re supposed to be focusing on.

In Stage #1, it’s easy to think about the pain in your thighs. But what you need to think about is how to make your feet more productive.

In Stage #2, your abs and legs will be burning. But you need to ignore that, and think about what you have to do to maintain your body position and how to keep the feet moving.

In Stage #3, as your legs are sinking deeper and deeper, you have to figure out what to do to keep them up.

And in Stage #4, while it’s easy to just swim and think about NOTHING, the goal is to think about varying the speed, and effort in your kick.

Experiment, explore, and enjoy. Sometimes pain is a great teacher. 🙂