Is your backstroke kick technique letting you down? Feel like you are getting nowhere fast, apart from downwards as you gradually sink? Maybe you are putting so much effort into kicking that it is sapping your energy.
Whatever is going on, you need some simple, professional tips to get your leg kick back up to the surface and on track.
Backstroke kick is an alternating action, continuously up and down to help balance the action of the arms. Your leg kicks balance your arm pulls and together they both help to maintain a horizontal and flat body position.
The amount of propulsion generated from the kick will depend on the size of the feet, ankle mobility and strength of the legs. Although propulsion from the leg kick is not priority as the arms generate most of the propulsion for backstroke.
1. Legs should be stretched out with toes pointed (plantar flexed).
2. Ankles should be relaxed and loose allowing the feet to kick in a 'flipper' like action.
3. The kick should originate from the hip and not from the knee, so the whole leg performs the kick.
4. The knee should bend slightly and then straighten as the leg kicks upwards, with the upper surface area of the foot (where the shoe laces would be) providing the power part of the kick.
5. Toes should create a small splash slightly breaking the water surface.
During specific leg practices the legs kick in a vertical plane up and down. However, the arm action causes the body to roll making the legs kick part sideways, part vertical and partly to the other side.
The most common fault with the leg kick during back stroke is closely related to the body position, when the swimmer allows their legs to sink well below the water surface. The toes should just break the water surface and the legs kicking from the hip with a slight bend at the knee.
An easy exercise to help maintain leg kick technique at the correct level in the water is to hold a float or kick board across the chest and perform the leg kick.
The float will provide support so that the swimmer can focus on kicking up towards the water surface whilst maintaining a level head and level hips. Only then will the leg kick be at its most efficient.
This same exercise will help iron out another common mistake, that being kicking from the knee. An excessive knee bend will not only cost energy but will cause the legs to gradually sink.
Performing backstroke kick whilst holding a float will help to focus the swimmer on kicking from the hip and not from the knee.
All the answers, tips and drills are in my book 'How To Swim Backstroke'. No more getting tired as you kick and no more slowly sinking as you move through the water.
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