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No Kickboard Verses Kickboard In Swim Lessons

Don't Use That Kickboard To Learn Freestyle!

I am not a fan of using a kickboard to teach someone how to learn freestyle arms.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

Now I know that this sounds like I'm contradicting myself as I promote the idea in one of my freestyle video and I have not changed my mind about its use, but if you watch the freestyle video you will see that the kickboard is not used all the time. Swim students and swimming teachers must limit their use of the kickboard or you end up with non completion of strokes.

What do I mean by non completion of strokes?

Well basically it's too much bent arm action.

"Wait a minute" you say "Don't you want bent arms?" Yes but you want a bent arm action out of the water not to start with, under the water . That is you want a bent arm action in the recovery phase of your stroke not to start with in the catch and pull through and push phase of your stroke.

They Don't Complete Their Stroke

The problem is that, way too often those who learn to do their freestyle stroke (or front stroke) using a kickboard usually don't complete their stroke under the water, which results in an incomplete stroke at the end of the pull through and push phase. An incomplete pull through and push phase means that you are not pushing enough water with your stroke.

Image of female swimmer practicing freestyle swimming with a kickboard
Freestyle Arms with Kickboard
Observe from the picture (left) how the arm is leaving the water still bent rather than coming out more or less straight and then bending. Thus less distance in the water and there fore not enough water is pushed.

If you are not pushing enough water you are not generating as much thrust as you can. If you are not generating as much thrust as you can you are not moving through the water as efficiently as you can.

Not moving through the water as efficiently as you can you are most likely to be having problems with tiring more quickly than you need to and with your breathing. Or both.

Thus if you want to swim freestyle better you must finish your stroke.

To encourage finishing the stroke underwater I teach either catch up stroke (link) or a windmill action (link) without the use of a kickboard.

Having said that never throw away a tool.

I've Been Disappointed At The Quality Of Teaching

I've been disappointed more and more lately at the quality of teaching that some swimming organizations are giving their new recruits. These organizations insist to their new teachers that you must not teach catchup stroke and you must not teach freestyle with a kickboard. Worse most of the time they don't provide an alternative.

Whilst I have clearly pointed out the pitfalls of depending on a kickboard it is not necessary to discard it altogether.

Used in the right context a kickboard is a very useful tool to help get students to bend their arms once they leave the water. Usually it is a simple step to go from catch up stroke with straight arms out of the water to catch up stroke with bent elbows out of the water. But some times the student needs a little help and sometimes the best help you can give then is a kickboard.

Mostly however I stay away from practicing freestyle with a kickboard.


1 comment:

  1. I'll try out the kickboard less techniques next in my lessons,