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Swimming Kickboard Drills: Pat The Dog If You Have Too

Pat The Dog In The Water

Here is a little cheat that you can use if you are struggling to get any propulsion out of you or your students kick. It's called "Pat the Dog" (video below) and is one of the swimming kickboard drills that I rarely recommended. But sometimes it is the only thing that can get some new swimmers going.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

Some swimmers just can't get the hang of flippy floppy feet, no matter what they try. I have found this to be the case particularly with some new adult swimmer and of course some disabled swimmer. It is sometimes due to some physical restriction like stiff or even fused joints. But sometimes it is just that the student has spent so long keeping the relevant joints from doing what they need to do when they swim that they cannot be relaxed enough to create the movement that generates propulsion in the water.

When I first started swim teaching, this problem proves almost insurmountable. Because whilst, it is easy to avoid kicking when you swim by using your strokes alone, but before you get to that point, new swimmers often have to be able to find a way to get some movement so as to maintain their stability in the water, whilst they learn to use their arms.

It is a bit of a catch 22. to learn to swim you have to have movement in the water. There are only 2 ways to get that movement: Kicking or stroke. If you can't produce propulsion with your arms because you haven't learned to do that yet, you have to produce it with your kick. If you can't produce propulsion with your kick either, then you can't get moving in the water.

Swimming Kickboard Drills I Rarely Recommend But...

Before I discovered this little trick, I had no other choice but to physically support each student that could not kick until they could swim with their stroke only.

Why is it one of the swimming kickboard drills that I rarely recommend? Because Pat The Dog is a fault and you want to eliminate it as soon as possible. In fact, it was one of my junior students that introduced it to me. For him, it was a fault that I had to fix but I realized it had its application in the scenario I described above.

It's just waving your hand in the water but for some new students it is a great way to get them going whilst they are getting enough movement to remain stable enough to use their arms. And the teacher doesn't have to be in the water to support them.

Of course, if your student can remain stable in the water without movement then you don't need this trick so don't teach it. It is only for students who need the movement to get keep their stability whilst they learn their stroke.


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