Front Crawl Kick

Relaxed and smooth is the key

Is your front crawl kick draining your energy or do you constantly feel like you're sinking?  

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It's easy to get caught in the trap of 'if I kick harder I will stay up' or 'if i kick faster I will go faster'.  Balanced and relaxed is the key to a smooth front crawl technique and a smooth and steady leg kick is vital to achieving this.

The leg kick should originate from the hip and both legs should kick with equal force.

The kick for front crawl works most efficiently as the legs kick in an up and down alternating action, with the propulsive phase coming from the down kick.  There should be a slight bend in the knee due to the water pressure, in order to produce the propulsion required on the down kick.

Front crawl leg kick technique showing alternating kicking cycle.

The downward kick begins at the hip and uses the thigh muscles to straighten the leg at the knee, ending with the foot extended to allow the surface area to bear upon the water.

As the leg moves upwards, the sole of the foot and the back of the leg press upwards and backwards against the water.  The upward kick slows and stops as the leg nears and minimally breaks the water surface.

Ankles are relaxed and toes pointed to give an in-toeing effect when kicking and leg kick depth should be within the overall depth of the body.

For an in-depth look at your basic front crawl including practical exercises to practice to help perfect your leg kick technique, download How To Swim Front Crawl

The Front Crawl Book

"Absolutely must buy. I now know what each part of my body should be doing. Outstanding!"


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The Front Crawl Book

"Absolutely must buy. I now know what each part of my body should be doing. Outstanding!"


Click for more info

Don't Kick Too Fast!

The speed of the kick is important, especially from an energy and stamina point of view.  Short distance sprint swimmers will swim front crawl with a very fast kick to help get maximum propulsion and speed out of the whole stroke.  However long distance swimmers such as triathletes will have a front crawl kick that balances and matches the arm action.  These swimmers cannot afford to waste energy on kicking fast as it will cost them dearly over the long distance of their swim. 

Sometimes a leg kick that simply balances the arm action is best for maintaining a smooth balanced body position and stroke.  This of course depends on the overall distance of the swim. 

Common Front Crawl Kick Mistakes That Cost Energy

It is very common to kick from the knees with this swimming stroke in an attempt to generate some propulsion and movement.  This can also lead to a very stiff and robotic kicking action.  The kick must originate from the hip and be a smooth movement with relaxed knee and ankle joints.

Another common mistake is to make the kicking movements too large.  In other words the feet come out over the water surface causing excessive splash and again wasting valuable energy.

It is very easy to put too much into the kick in an attempt to gain propulsion and movement.  Keep in mind that the majority of the propulsion for front crawl comes from the arms.  Therefore a slower and more balanced kick is sometimes more effective. 

A good exercise to practice the leg kick is holding a float or a kick board and kicking along the length of the pool with face down.  This will allow the swimmer to focus purely on the leg kick, ensuring it is a relaxed and flowing up and down movement.

If you still feel like you are going nowhere or your energy is being wasted, try wearing fins on your feet.  Don't become reliant on them, but they will help your technique. After all, your feet should behave like fins as you kick.

Related Pages

Isolate and Practice Your Kick With These Exercises

Download these documents to your computer, tablet or mobile device and fine-tune your front crawl kick.  The exercises below are designed to isolate the leg kick action so that you can focus on the included tips and technique points. 

Kicking holding the poolside


Kicking holding 2 floats


Kicking holding a single float


Kicking from a push and glide


Kicking with float held vertical


Click here for more front crawl exercises.

All of these documents are PDF format and are compatible with all tablet and mobile devices.  Some computers may need PDF reading software such as Adobe Acrobat.

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