How to develop an efficient freestyle kick

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 23 January '18 0
You are reading: How to develop an efficient freestyle kick

Developing an efficient freestyle kick can be broken down into various elements. In this article, we’ll and focus on each of them, explaining how to train you will become a more powerful swimmer.

Try to isolate just your kick for a moment.

Unlike a complete swim stroke that involves various other factors, when looking at the kick alone we need to consider the resistance created by the body as its movements. In this case, it is vitally important for a swimmer’s body to be perfectly balanced, so as not to generate any additional resistance. The head must be aligned with the shoulders, which, together with the hands and heels (the four buoyancy points), must be kept at the surface of the water.

Try using a snorkel to improve this aspect. It will allow you to concentrate and improve your upper body position.

In the water: use a snorkel and concentrate on keeping your head in the correct position. Try changing your angle of vision while swimming. Try swimming 25 yards with an angle of vision of 45° and 25 yards looking down at the black line at an angle of 90°. Make sure you do not create any additional resistance with your body as it moves forward and check that the four buoyancy points referred to above are at surface level throughout the exercise.

Continuing to isolate just your kick, another key factor is the forward drive through the water coming from your legs. The most important part of your kick is when your leg moves downwards. At this point, you need to thrust your leg downwards making sure you do not bend your knees or allow your feet to surface. Another important part of this movement is ankle flexibility.

Here are some simple exercises to help you improve your ankle flexibility.

  • In a standing position, place a tennis ball under the arch of your foot and make circular and criss-cross movements. Apply constant pressure so that you work the entire arch. Perform this exercise for 2 minutes and then switch feet.


  • Dynamic stretching. Using an elastic band or towel. In a sitting position with your legs stretched out in front of you, place an elastic band behind your toes. Pull the band gently towards you and bend your ankle and foot until you can feel tension in your calf muscle. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat three times for each foot. This exercise can be performed applying pressure in the opposite direction or to the left or right. This will work on the overall flexibility of your ankle.

    • In the water using long, soft fins. Long, soft fins improve energy transfer from your leg when working on ankle mobility. To improve your flexibility, you can perform vertical backstroke or butterfly kicks focusing on the final phase of the kick and how your ankles move in the water.


Lastly, here are three fundamental rules for developing an efficient kick:

1. Incorporate leg exercises throughout the season. Of course, the amount of legwork you do will vary throughout the year, but never forget to train your legs.

2. Use a snorkel and work on your ankle flexibility as described above.

3. Also train your legs out of the water, performing specific exercises to concentrate on both flexibility and power.

All this will help you improve your forward drive and, hence, generate a more efficient kick.

Photo credit: Gian Mattia D’Alberto/LaPresse

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arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.