When I use my arms in the front crawl, my feet stop kicking.
Thanks for getting in touch. Your problem is a common one, and it is a question of coordination.
The timing of front crawl arms and legs varies from person to person, depending on the distance to swim.
Each arm cycle should have six leg kicks (2 arm pulls). A slower leg kick, using four kicks per arm cycle, can be used and can be reduced right down to one kick per arm pull. In the case of this ‘one beat cycle,’ the leg kick provides very little propulsion and kicks to balance the arm pulls. This pattern is used a lot by long-distance swimmers to save energy.
However, if your legs stop kicking completely, then that is a completely different matter!
Taking into account the different timing patterns I’ve mentioned so far, you should aim for a ‘one beat cycle’, and try to get your leg kicks to balance your arm pulls rather than trying to get your legs to kick faster than your arms.
As your problem is coordination-related, getting your legs to kick faster than your arms pull will only make matters worse and become even more frustrating.
Start by gently holding a few floats under your arms and kicking your legs. ‘Ok, I can do that easily’, I hear you say. Then take one float away. Hold one float in one hand and again begin to kick your legs. Steady speed, face down in the water. Then start to pull with the arm that's not holding the float. A slow, steady arm pull and maintain your leg kick.
The act of only using one arm can sometimes help to maintain some focus on your legs and help to keep them kicking. If you find they are still stopping, try to kick once in time your arm pulls.
Performing one kick in time with one arm pull should be easier than constantly maintaining a quicker leg kick.
Keep practising until your legs kick once in time with your arms pull. Change arms and try the other side. Once you get the hang of it, try the full stroke without and floats. Both arms with alternating pulls, and your legs kick simultaneously as the opposite arm pulls. In other words, the right arm pulls, the left leg kicks one kick and so on.
This arm pull and leg kick pattern is a perfectly acceptable way of swimming front crawl, and if you practice it in slow motion at first, you will soon find it becomes second nature.