10 Ways to Spice up Your Relationship With Your Kick Board

by SwimSwam Contributors 1

September 29th, 2016 News

Courtesy of and written by Chad Castillo – A.K.A “Coach C.” Read more of Chad’s Work at SwimCoach.org.

What was your feeling when coach said, “Grab your boards!, we have 20×100’s on 2 min.”?  Were you excited, annoyed, anxious?  No matter your feelings, you grabbed your board and went on your way. Over time this forced union undoubtedly formed a relationship between you and your kick board.  I’m sure you still have strong feelings for the board even though you may not see much of each other anymore.

No matter what your relationship with your board is, I want to inject passion back into it!  Call me the Kickboard counselor.

They say variety is the spice of life so here are 10 training activities that you can do with a board in water.  Some of these activities are great training tools while others are just plain fun.

Note:  I did not include the obvious kick board activity. . . . kicking.


Snork board: (Need: Snorkel, Fins optional)

Athletes hold the board horizontally in front of them (As if they were trying to make a T with their body and the board).  Athletes should place both hands on the board with their palms flat on the surface and arms out straight.  They should put their head in the water in the space provided and hold a flat body line with their hips close to the water’s surface.

Benefits: Snork board helps athletes establish a great body position in the water. It allows for the athlete to focus on their kicking motion, including size and location of their feet in the water

Tombstone board: (Need: Fins, Snorkel optional)

Hold the board vertically out of the water with half of the board remaining in the water (Like a tombstone sticking out of the ground).  This position gives the athlete minimal buoyancy from the board while greatly increasing drag.

Benefits: This board technique forces your athlete to maintain a strong kick (to overcome the increased drag force) throughout the entire length of the set.  It also requires the athlete to engage their core more than regular kick position. If you do not like the way that your athlete’s body position looks you can use a snorkel to keep their head in a neutral position.

Frankenstein Board: (Needs: Back position kick, Fins optional)

Now on their back, athletes should hold the board out of the water (directly above their chest) with straight arms.  (Picture Frankenstein walking with his arms outstretched in front of him)

Benefits:  The added weight of the athlete’s arms and board over their chest forces them to find a good balanced position in the water.  This board technique helps backstrokers in particular feel the optimal balance point for their stroke.

Kick battle: 2 athletes hold the same board on opposite sides. The athletes are facing each other.  The coach signals the two to start kicking.  The goal is to overcome the force from the other swimmer and push them backwards until they reach some predetermined point (usually 3-5 meters from the start).  The battle could be tournament style with everyone competing for themselves, or a team format where a member from each team competes with someone else from the other team for points.

Benefits:  In my opinion competition is one of the best forms of training.  Kickboard battle forces the athletes to give effort above what is normally required.  The battle also gives coaches a sense of athlete’s personalities.

Pull drill on kickboard: (Nothing needed; Fins optional)

The athlete begins to kick with the board normally, with both of their hands near the leading edge of the board.  Holding on with their left hand, the athlete releases their right hand from the board. The right hand is placed in the water near the leading edge of the board and is then drawn back and around the edges of the board, tracing the outline.  The athlete makes sure to keep their fingertips down during the entire outline, “feeling” the water.  The athlete finishes the stroke with their right hand just like standard freestyle and recovers the hand to the starting position on the board.  The left hand then releases and goes through the same process.

Benefits: This drill allows athletes to physically see what their hand is doing during a good “catch” position.  There is also no way for the arm to be out of a high elbow catch position during this drill.  If the athlete keeps their fingertips down with their hand in the water, their elbow has to be high.

2 kickboards for 2 hands: (Need: Another kickboard & snorkel; Fins optional)

The athlete will place their left hand on one kick board (palm flat) and their right hand on another. Both boards should be in the same orientation as if the athlete were using one.  Placing their head in the water in a neutral position the athlete should start to kick dolphin kick, focusing on pressing their chest forward and down while their hands stay on the board.

Benefits:  This drill gives incredible buoyancy to the hands, allowing the hands to stay near the surface of the water while the body is free to move.  The drill is useful for helping athletes feel what it is like to keep their hands high in a stroke.

Board for Buoy: (No needs; Snorkel & paddles optional)

Replacing the athlete’s pull buoy with a kickboard, the athlete completes a pull set.  The board should be vertical in between the athlete’s legs.  The goal is to have the board move as little as possible.

Benefits: This drill is great for athletes that tend to over rotate their long axis strokes.  The board over exaggerates the movement of the athlete’s hips and gives them instant feedback on what muscles they need to contract to keep their hips from over rotating.  A kickboard is also much more narrow than a pull buoy.  This width difference forces the athlete to press their legs together more firmly, giving different muscle groups in their body practice contracting.

Surfboard Pull (Knees on board): (Need: Very buoyant body board/ surfboard)

Like a surfer the athlete keeps their body and legs out of the water while they propel themselves solely with their arms.  The athlete can be laying flat on their stomach or kneeling on the board. Throughout the arm motion the athlete should have their hands perpendicular to the surface of the water in a high elbow catch position.  The athlete can alternate hands or use both hands at the same time. Note: Stole this idea from Rick Demont and the University of Arizona

Benefits: Just like the pull drill on kickboard this drill forces the athlete to maintain a high elbow catch for every stroke.  The athlete can isolate the feeling of the water on their arm/hand and see what their hand is doing in a good “catch” position.  It’s also fun!


Standing on board relay races:

As the name implies the athletes stand on kick boards and attempt to move themselves across the water any way they can.  If the athlete can’t control the board and it comes out from under their feet, they have to begin from the spot that the board popped out.  Athletes usually only complete 25 yards each and then hand the board off to a teammate.

Board Ball:

Like baseball but the board is a bat, a whiffle ball is the baseball and the bases are athletes on the opposing team.  Take out the lane lines in part of your pool and allow for about 10 meters in between bases.  If the athletes are big enough they can hit the ball while still in the water.  If they are too small then they can hit outside of the water and dive into the pool.  Follow the rules of baseball and adjust wherever necessary.

It goes without saying that any/all of these different ideas can be modified and adjusted to fit your needs or the needs of your athletes.

I hope that I sparked some new ideas for you and your board.  Sometimes it is not easy to keep things fresh in a relationship. Don’t let monotony be an excuse anymore. Take your board out and show it a good time again.  Both of you will appreciate the effort and you will be surprised how good you feel afterwards.

At your service, Coach C.

Courtesy of and written by Chad Castillo – A.K.A “Coach C.” Read more of Chad’s Work at SwimCoach.org.

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Jan Ochoa

Great ideas Coach Chad. You gave me a whole new perspective on working out with my board!

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