I hope you enjoyed Sunday's session. We had a few first timers at both the swim and the run which was great to see. I was very impressed by the efforts of our first timers in both in the lido and in the park. The usual suspects did very well too especially on the speed work where I had a hard job convincing people not to do too much. Nice work!
So a few of you found the kicking drills during the swim session particularly difficult. While an effective kick provides some propulsion when swimming front crawl the majority of the propulsion does come from the action of the arms and trunk. However, an ineffective kick can produce a significant amount of drag and this is why kick effectiveness is something that we should all work on.
What does it mean to have an effective kick? Here is what Swim Smooth have to say:
- Your kick should lift your legs up to give you a good body position.
- Your kick should be low drag.
- Your kick timing should drive your rotation, not hinder it.
- Your kick should be low effort so it minimises energy use.
What are the key elements of an effective kick?
- Kick from the hip. The knee will bend slightly on the down stroke and straighten on the upstroke. This is achieved by having a 'relaxed knee' with the movement being driven by the hip.
- Point your toes. By pointing your toes, known as plantar flexion of the ankle, you not only effectively make your leg longer but you reduce drag.
- Ankle flexibility. Being able to point your toes so that the top of the foot is in line with the lower leg requires good ankle flexibility. You can improve this with regular ankle mobility exercises but some people are more flexible than others and that's just the way it is. Elite swimmers are generally very flexible in key areas such as the shoulder and ankle.
- Timing. There are a number of kicking speeds that swimmers use - 2, 4, or 6 beats per arm cycle (a cycle is two arm strokes counting both arms). The key with good timing is that as the hand enters the water at the front of the stroke the opposite leg should kick in a downward direction. Kick timing is an advanced skill and you should work on the three points above before trying to address timing.
From my observations poolside kicking from the knees was a common fault. This means that the hips and legs will sit very low in the water creating significant drag and resulting in greater energy expenditure. It's no coincidence that those people who find kick sets especially tough are the same people who tend to kick from the knees.
Some people were not pointing their toes i.e. plantar flexing the ankle. This could be due to either a lack of flexibility at the ankle or you just need a little reminder to keep those toes pointed. Next time your in the water try kicking with your toes pointing down to the bottom of the pool. You'll soon realise how important it is to keep those toes pointed!
If you want more information about the leg kick in front crawl swimming there is a whole page dedicated to it if you have a look at Swim Smooth. There are some great animations and videos to help get the key points across.
This weekend we have a 5km time trial for the run session. Always fun! The swim is focussing on aerobic endurance. Not too hard but plenty long enough!
See you Sunday. Tim (LFTC Coach)