The past 4-6 months have been the endurance phase of our training program. We’ve been doing more miles in the pool and higher intensity work. One thing which occurred to me is the poor kicking technique and strength in most swimmers.

Sprinters must have a strong kick. To swim sub 30 for 50m freestyle it can be hard to do without a powerful kicking technique. Longer distance swimmers don’t rely on their kick as much as they do their body rotation and pull, so many triathletes can get away with not working on their kick in training. If you are swimming anything under 400m it’s best for you to work on your kick. One of the best drills to strengthen kicking power is vertical kick. Here we see Sam performing a vertical kicking progression:

  1. Arms crossed at chest

Arms crossed vertical kick

2. Hands on head

Hands on head vertical kick

3. Arms raised

Forearms out vertical kick

4. Streamlined

Streamline vertical kick

My squad will normally do 4 x 1 min with 30 secs rest inbetween. We do each step in the progression for 15 secs each. So 15 secs arms crossed, 15 secs hands on head, 15 secs forearms out and 15 secs streamlined. If you are just starting out, begin with arms crossed at chest and only progress once you’ve been doing the drill for a few days in a row.

One thing to note is there are only three types of kicks you should be doing with vertical kick.

  1. Freestyle
  2. Butterfly (flutter kick)
  3. Breakstroke

I sometimes see new swimmers doing egg-beater kick just because they’re new to the drill. Most people should start with freestyle kick and once they increase their endurance, then move onto butterfly kick or breastroke kick.

Once you can really master your kick, you’ll notice the huge difference it will make in your swim speed. It will feel like you have a jet engine propelling you along which you can switch on and off at will. Always remember, perfect practice makes perfect!

If you have any questions about this drill don’t hesitate to comment on this post 🙂

One Response

  1. Hi,

    This kind of advice is exactly what I was looking for! I’m a regular swimmer but I always swam on my own and now I feel the desire to improve my swimming technique…. so thank you for creating this blog, I’ll sure follow it with attention!


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Brenton and Mitch were great to work with at the clinic, Good to get video analysis to work on straight away, practice some new drills and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Alex McFadyen