Article image

by Scott Bay

December 8, 2013

Kicking Rx for your long-axis strokes: become a better side kicker

We seem to spend a lot of time on kickboards. That’s fine for many (and great for social sets), but kicking with a board can be uncomfortable, especially in the lower back. Besides the discomfort, ask yourself “When am I in that position when swimming?” Especially in the long axis strokes—freestyle and backstroke—where body position changes as you rotate side-to-side. Here are a few drills that’ll help you become a more effective kicker not only on your front, but also on your side.

Side kicking with a kickboard

Extend one arm out on the board and the other down at your side. Lie on your side with your head on your shoulder, stretching your body as long as possible. Begin kicking. Switch arms each length of the pool. If this drill feels too difficult at first, use fins. When you get more comfortable, stop wrapping your fingers around the edge of the board and just place your hand on top of the board in the middle. This takes a great deal of strength and balance.

Kicking only when you breathe

Many swimmers hesitate in their kicks when rotating to breathe or, worse, they do a very wide scissors kick when taking a breath. You can reprogram the brain to avoid that hesitation and help increase the propulsion of the kick by executing three to four fast kicks when you breathe, and ONLY kicking when you breathe.

Underwater kicking on your side

Kicking underwater on your side can be accomplished with or without fins. It’s great for developing a symmetrical kick: one there you can apply pressure to the water in both the down- and and upstrokes of your kick.

There are many other drills for kicking out there and in the beginning, doing them well is more important than doing them fast. Becoming a great kicker takes time and patience. You may have to give up some yardage initially, but it will pay huge dividends in the end.


  • Technique and Training


  • Workouts
  • Kicking
  • Stroke Technique
  • Drills