Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.
To build a better freestyle or flutter kick, one must first understand where the propulsive power of the kick is derived and how to balance the two opposing forces of propulsion and frontal drag, in order to maximize the kicking speed.
The Battle Between Frontal Drag Forces And Propulsive Forces
As with the pulling motion, there is a battle going on between frontal drag forces and propulsive forces. Unlike the arms, however, where some propulsion is attained from the forearm, wrist and hand, all of the propulsion from the kick is derived from the foot. In fact, all of the propulsion from the kick comes from the down kick of the foot, not the up kick.
An Extremely Flexible Ankle
In order to create a propulsive force in the water, the foot, like the hand, must be moving backward relative to the water. There is really only one point in the kicking cycle where that happens and that is at the beginning of the down kick. For a very brief time, perhaps a tenth of a second or so, with the contraction of the strong quadriceps and hip flexors, enabled by an extremely flexible ankle, the foot moves backward in the water, creating the propulsive force. The amount of the force depends on the surface area pushing backward and speed or acceleration of that area. Both of those depend on strong leg muscles and great ankle flexibility.
Increasing The Plantar Flexibility Of The Ankle
There are only two ways I can think of to increase the surface area of the foot pushing backward on the down kick, short of growing a bigger foot. One is by bending the knee more in preparation for the down kick. The other is by increasing the plantar flexibility of the ankle, enabling the foot to start from a different position on the down kick. Bending the knee too much is a bad choice, as the frontal drag forces will more than compensate for the increased propulsion. What is the right amount of knee bend? You will see exactly in some of our upcoming Race Club webisodes. So that really leaves us with one good option for improving the kick, improve ankle flexibility.
Here’s some exercises to increase ankle flexibility: http://www.theraceclub.com/aqua-notes/power-swim-kick-flex-appeal/
Understand the Propulsive Phase of the kick: http://www.theraceclub.com/videos/secret-tip-legs-propulsion/
Come to a Race Club camp or private sessions in Islamorada or Los Angeles. Sign up now for our Thanksgiving camps! http://www.theraceclub.com/the-race-club-registration/
Yours in swimming,
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/gary-hall/9/908/671 [email protected]
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