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  #1  
Old 07-29-2012
newbie2012 newbie2012 is offline
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newbie2012
Default help finding the proper kick

First of all a big thanks to Terry and TI, I've been reading TI for a week and it's just amazing. This week I spent more than 3 hours in the pool, it probably looks like a joke to most of you, but for me it's more than my lifetime pool time before TI... And I've enjoyed every minute of it, and it gets better and better each time.

I have a couple of questions though :
- in SG glide and when using the kick, where should you look ? Or rather how should you adjust your head ? If I look straight down, I have I guess the tendency to get the head too deep underwater. If I look a bit forward, not straight ahead, but 45-60 degrees forward, it seems to largely improve the floatability, but I'm not sure if I not getting the forehead too high.

- how should I best improve my kick, because right now if I try to kick with the full leg and have a small amplitude for the kick, my legs are too stiff and there's practically no move from the knee and I guess it's not the right move. When I try to flex also the knee, I loose part of the hip movement and the bend from the knee I feel is too ample.

- also, about the toes, do they have any movement of themselves at the end of the kick ? like the end of a whip or something. Or you just keep them aligned with the rest of the foot and try to move everything like a whole ?

I've been searching the forum, but maybe I've missed some threads, sorry if it have been discussed before.
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  #2  
Old 08-01-2012
newbie2012 newbie2012 is offline
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Someone could tell me if:
[] I'm posting this in the wrong forum
[] Im asking too simple and/or obvious questions
[] I'm asking too stupid questions
[] both of the above
[] the answers are already "out there"
[] tl;dr
[] the answer is obviously 42
[] telling people stuff doesn't work

Thank you.

Last edited by newbie2012 : 08-01-2012 at 01:10 PM. Reason: typo
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  #3  
Old 08-01-2012
mt6127 mt6127 is offline
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Default proper kick thoughts

I think your questions on the kick is a good topic as I've seen many new swimmers really struggle (and worse, I've seen instructors who struggle to explain how to build a proper kick for a first time swimmer).

My thoughts are to start with the basics of how a kick works - you are really trying to do two things 1) to get propulsion, foot position is key. Think about it this way - on the downward kick, you are trying to use the top of your foot to press water away from you. To do that, you need to rotate you foot and toes backwards and you want your top of your foot to be deeper than your toes when pressing downward. Most people do this by dropping their knee deeper than their foot which brings in the second objective... 2) try to avoid having your knee way deeper than your hip or you will find your thigh adding more drag than your foot generates. A third concept is what the kick is really trying to do for you. If you are trying to win a kickboard race with your kids that's one thing. If you are trying to build a good stroke form, your goal should be to driving the timing of the stroke (ie initiate body roll) and to press the hips higher in the water.

So to figure out the hip/knee/foot thing, there's a balance between "spaghetti legs" (those kickers who's legs go in all different directions) and "robot legs" with no flexibility and knee action. Start by focusing on feeling the hip rotation motion to initiate the kick. Try this: stand on one foot on the floor and put one foot 12 inches behind toes pointing backwards (you should have a fairly straight back leg). Now rotate your hip forward to drag your toe knuckles across the floor. when your foot clears the floor, let your leg extend straight with a little flick. Notice your toes stay pointed backwards? Notice how you have pronated your foot so the shin/ankle leads the toes? Do this same in the water and focus on the feeling of the water sliding from the top of your foot down to your toes and sliding off. work on this using a kickboard or just hanging on the side of the pool for starters. Try putting on fins (I like the Speedo Optimus sized fins to work on ankle flex , not the zoomers or "sea hunt" sized fins) and feel the fin flex your ankle backwards (this is a good thing for swimmers and not natural for dry land creatures other than ballet dancers).

next is to work on the kick in the context of your stroke. Most distance/training swims should use a two beat kick (two kicks per pull). Don't try to mimic Nathan Adrian Or Ceasar Cielo's foot speed as they will use 6 or 8 beat kicks, but you will notice the amplitude of their kick is in the 12 inch range. Most new swimmers tend to over amp their kick with too much up and down ranging. focus on a smaller, tighter kick that is more of a flick than an all out thrash of the water. Focus on initiating the kick with a quick flick of your hip rotating deep letting the leg/foot follow. Some knee bend is good (never measured this but my guess is something in the 15-20 degree range is about right - or about 6-9 inches of foot travel at the knee. Imagine yourself swimming like Nathan Adrian, who is 6' 7" so you have to really extend your legs toes if you are "average" height.

Use drills to incorporate into your full stroke. A few suggestions.
1) do kick swim drills on both back and breast. Try kicking on your back with your arms fully extended over your head, elbows pinned to your ears. press down with your upper back and just allow your hips to roll side to side with each new flutter kick motion do this for 25 yards, then swim a normal easy free style. Do the same on your side. push off and do one pull so you have one arm leading and the other arm by your side. Roll onto your side until you are vertical then do 8 kicks per breath. Switch sides every so often (ie half way down or every 8 kicks) then return the 25 with an easy free. last drill is an 8x3 drill. push off, do a single pull to get one arm leading the other down by your side or in a early recovery position. do 8 kicks on your side (focusing on good balance of range and leg position). pull with the lead arm, roll to other side, pull single pull to return to the one up/one down postion and do 8 kicks on the other side. A variation of this is to do the 8 kicks on your side, but try pulling with the recovery arm twice then roll to the other side (ie you will have one drill as 8 kicks pull Left right left, 8 kicks pull right left right) and the variation is to do 8 kicks pull Left left right, 8 kicks pull right right left. The LRL drill helps build a sense of kicking while on your side plus using the kick to transition from side to side, the LLR drill helps you focus on maintaining your kick while on your side and builds a sense of left/right, front/back balance - timing the kick and the shoulder rotation. Kick to swim timing is really about linkng the hip "flick" to the should rotation so think big muscles (hip/core and shoulder) lead the medium muscles (upper arm/upper legs, leaving small for last (lower arm+hands/lower leg+feet)

Good luck post up if this makes sense or gives you any help
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  #4  
Old 08-01-2012
newbie2012 newbie2012 is offline
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Hi mt6127,

I'm a beginner trying to fit a proper kick into a proper form and avoid getting bad habits. Trying to find the proper kick I found myself alternating between the "robot" kick that you mentioned - stiff leg without knee movement, but some hip rotation - and the mega-flutter kick - too ample, too fast, too much knee work. So I was trying to figure what should I cut from one and what to add to the other :) Anyway, I'm far from the 6/8 whatever form you're talking about, but that part will be useful later and thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

The exercise you've mentioned is very interesting, because it's the hip that's creating the movement when you move slightly forward your center of gravity, so the knee and toes just follow naturally.

Is this the same movement in water ? Is the move initiated by the hip, and if the foot is relaxed ( as it should be ) the knee-toes will naturally follow as in the dry exercise ?

Seems logical to be this way, but wouldn't that create quite a bit of body roll ? Not that it would be a bad thing, but in the first videos, Terry doesn't seem to have almost any body roll, or just a tiny bit.

Do we want to have a "fixed" body position on the horizontal plane, with almost no body roll when we start kicking in the SG position ? If we get some body roll, is it a bad thing ? ( I would imagine it's not )

Or it's just a matter of teaching one thing at a time, simplifying things, make the beginner think about less things at one moment, instead of saying something like "start turning/pressing the hip, this will generate some body roll and will allow the relaxed feet to follow with a gentle kick that will rather help you stabilize and get back to the middle-horizontal position in a transition to rolling on the other side" ?

Anyway thanks for your input, it's definitely helpful.
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  #5  
Old 08-01-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Newbie, how would you describe your ankle flexibility? Is it possible that you have stiff ankles, which prevents your foot to achieve some level of hyperextention?
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  #6  
Old 08-01-2012
newbie2012 newbie2012 is offline
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Hyperextension ... I certainty can't do that ... after decades of soccer, basketball, tennis and other stuff, I guess I still have some mobility in my ankles, but probably not the swimming one. I get to make an angle from 90° to 180° between my toes and my tibia, but not more than 180. And I get some minor cramps in the plant of my feet after 20-30 min, so I guess I'm rather on the stiff side :)
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  #7  
Old 08-01-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Yeah, it's what I thought.

In reality, all that mt6127 described is true. However, and I'm sure we can easily understand this, you have little control on that.

Lots of swimmers are being told for instance that they should *point* their feet when they kick, whilst in reality, normally given that you let your ankles nice and relaxed, the feet should point by themselves because of the resistance the water does against the foot.

One of the silver bullets in efficient kicking is actually that it's perfectly conceivable to expect massive improvements, without really any need to actually work on kick. How. Simply by learning to let your ankles nice relaxed and floppy and by stretching them gently *every single day*.

Fins are stupid, dum. Foot too (except at breast where the feet need to be smart, they need to move in very specific ways). At freestyle/backstroke, foot is supposed to be relaxed and as dum as a fin. Attempting to articulate your foot to give it the right angle etc will only lead to developing cramps in your calves or underneath the foot.

So I'll let TI-Coaches to explain you what should be the actual kicking mechanics as recommended by Total Immersion. But I'm absolutely convinced, that you could benefit from gently stretching your ankles every day, whilst listening to TV or such, and for no more than 5 minutes.

Here, it's me displaying my ankle flexibility, then me kicking my slowest possible pace, ie just letting the weight of my legs doing the works. It's unfair, because with these rubber ankles, no matter how hard I could try, I just can not fail to move forward quite rapidly whilst kicking. I can kick from the knees, from the hips, violating any principle that are supposed to be important, nothing will do. When I kick, I move forward because of these exceptionally flexible ankles.

No chance that you can match me in this area. Whilst you were playing soccer, I was probably busy swimming/kicking. But the good news is that the slightest improvement at that level (being relaxed and flexible) will translate into instant improvement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akuxFXdhPEo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gun1oH-QrpY

You'll also notice especially with the first clip that my feet naturally turn inward. This is normal. The natural hyper extention path for a foot is inward. This is why, for instance, several fly swimmers do kick with legs slightly apart. So when you stretch your ankles, allow your feet to turn inward if you feel this is what they want to do. Do not try to stretch them in line with the whole leg. The ankle articulation was not designed to extend (or hyper extend) this way.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 08-01-2012 at 06:49 PM.
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  #8  
Old 08-01-2012
newbie2012 newbie2012 is offline
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Great vids, thank you ! And wow, if this is what flexibility means, you can definitely call me Stiffy Uncle :) ( mods, can I change my username, pretty please ? )

And no, my ankles don't especially enjoy stretching, hence the occasional cramps I've mentioned, but you're suggestion is a good one, this way I can talk them into stretching bit by bit without them noticing :)


But what about the body roll when kicking ? Do we want any ? None, just a bit or even more is OK ?

And the head depth and position ? Are you looking straight down in the pool, rather forward ( max 45 degrees ), or forward/kinda upward ( 45-60 degrees from the vertical ) ?
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  #9  
Old 08-01-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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I'm kind of an intruder here (lol). I shall leave up to a certified coach the task of detailing how kicking should be done.

The little extra bits I can certainly tell you about would go as follow:

1. Do not work exclusively with a kick board, in fact most kicking volume is best done without them
2. Instead, favor all these drills that rely heavily on kicking. They allow you to kill two birds with one stone, and more importantly they are generally much easier to perform when you have stiff ankles

Kicking with a board, as far as I'm concern as a coach, should be reserved for 2 specific occasions:

1. When you're already good at it, out to the pool with a friend, and want to have casual chat during an endless kick set (not about to be your case I guess)
2. For very fast kicking sets (but then again, I'm not sure it's part of the TI Method to focus on flat out kicking sets)

Take this drill as an example. It was called Active Balance drill (and it's probably still called that way). It allows you to work on both the kicking and the balance and the rotation and the breathing. How about that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngW0hGPU8wM

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 08-01-2012 at 09:28 PM.
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  #10  
Old 08-01-2012
Rincewind Rincewind is offline
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hahah,

Thanks for the ankle flexibility demonstration. I tried doing the same movement as you and while your ankle flops up and down, mine just stays put at the same angle.

Even if I try to forcibly point mine I cant get them to 180 degress, the most I can do is about 160.

I always knew I had unflexible ankles, just never realized how bad they really were!!

By the way I've been doing ankle stretching exercises everyday as part of warm up and warm down, before and after any exercise. But there is just no improvement.
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