Power Up Your Kick with the Zona Kick Drill

Ready to ditch the kickboard? Here’s how swimmers can improve body positioning, power up your core, and develop a more balanced freestyle with the Zona kick drill. Lessgo.

When it comes to improving your freestyle kick there is a ton of different ways that you can go about it:

But while laying on a kickboard for hours at a time might get you some serious leg conditioning, it does fall short in a couple areas.

After all, using a kickboard can be murder on your shoulders if you’re injured, it lacks the shoulder and hip rotation that is a part of regular swimming, and you don’t get the benefit of working your underwater dolphin kick.

And that’s where this freestyle kicking drill comes in.

How to Do the Zona Kick Drill:

  • Strap on your swim snorkel and a pair of swim fins.
  • Push off wall, drop an awesome breakout (like usual, right?), and outstretch one arm, with opposing arm at your side. Roll your shoulders a little bit so that the opposing shoulder is out of the water.
  • Whichever arm is outstretched, do single leg kicking with the opposite leg. If right arm outstretched, kick with leg foot. And vice versa.

Benefits of the Zona Kick Drill:

Reduced impingement on the shoulder. I started really adopting this drill into my swim workouts after injuring my right bicep. I noticed that using a kickboard made it feel significantly worse—something that is very common with swimmers who are experiencing some form of swimmer’s shoulder.

Adds in shoulder rotation. One of the downsides of using a kickboard for your flutter kick work is that there is no shoulder rotation. With this kick drill extend one arm, while the opposing shoulder should be out of the water.

Stabilizes your hips. When I am sprinting I notice that my hips can corkscrew out from under me from time to time, resulting in a loss of speed. This kick drill helps reinforce proper hip position.

Works both phases of the kicking motion. For most of us, the upward phase of the kicking motion is soft. It’s understandable—as we lack the musculature to have a truly balanced kick. But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve it! Kicking single leg means balancing out both the upward and downward kicking motions in order to maintain a consistent rate of speed in the water.

Key focus points with the Zona drill: 

  • Keep chest up in “attack” position.
  • Don’t sag your elbow on the outstretched arm
  • Roll opposing shoulder so that it is out of the water, with arm against your side
  • Strong downkick but try to match the upkick–balanced kick means more consistent velocity.
  • With snorkel on your head position should be tight and face down.
  • There should be more rotation in your shoulders than in your hips. In other words, don’t kick on your side.
  • Focus on kicking from a stable platform using your hips.

Here is a sample set that I did recently:

40×50 free kick w snorkel, 15m UDK off every push-off

  • 8 – with fins Zona Kick Drill @:10 sec rest
  • 8 – with fins + drag sox @:10 sec rest
  • 8 – with fins Zona Kick Drill @:10 sec rest
  • 8 – with fins as 25 fast, 25 easy @1
  • 8 – 25 fast in streamline, 25 easy @1:10

The Zona Kick Drill is the kicking version of the Zona Drill that Jake Shellenberger, head coach at Liberty University, edu-macated me on recently. You can learn more about that drill by clicking here.

More Stuff Like This:

How to Develop an Unstoppable Freestyle Kick. Fast swimmers are fast kickers. Here is what you need to know about leveling up your flutter kick.

How to Develop an Awesome Underwater Dolphin Kick. Our flagship guide featuring tips and pointers from Olympians, elite coaches, biomechanists, and even a space scientist. Get your underwater fly kick game tight and destroy the competition at your next meet.

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About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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