Front crawl, or freestyle, uses a flutter kick -- an alternating, up and down kick. Done at the water’s surface with straight legs and pointed toes, the kick comes from the hips with forceful upward and downward movement. Exercises to work on technique and build strength help you get the best results from your flutter kick.
Practicing flutter kick with a kickboard lets you to focus on your legs without thinking about breathing or what your arms should be doing. Isolating your legs while kicking with a board also gives a good idea of how effective, or ineffective, your kick is. Your kick is most effective if you keep your knees and ankles straight but loose, with toes pointed. Keep your kick just at the water's surface. Power the up-stroke with the same strength as the down-stroke for best results. If you seem to stay in the same spot when kicking with a kickboard, use swim fins at first to power your kick and strengthen your leg muscles.
Alternating sets of kicking with and without fins builds strength and endurance in your legs and abdominal muscles, which help power your kick. Practice kicking in the streamline position with your hands out over your head, like superman. Streamline kicking puts your head and your body in a more natural position than you get while kicking with a board, and you may find it easier to kick correctly in this position.
Correct Asymmetrical Flutter Kick
An asymmetrical flutter kick, putting a lot of pressure on the downstroke of your flutter kick but little on the upstroke, can be corrected with an underwater flutter rotation drill. The drill is done while swimming flutter kick underwater in streamline position. Start on your front, then rotate to one side for eight kicks, return to your front for eight kicks, turn to the other side for eight kicks, return to front and repeat. Swim the drill in 25 yard sets, advises US Masters Swimming, taking a breath as needed.
Kick Better, Not Harder
Some swimmers resist kicking, says U.S. Masters Swimming, especially distance and open water swimmers who kick to maintain body position in the water. For a drill called "tapping the toes," swimmers lightly tap their toes on top of the water, flutter kicking with a six-beat kick. This efficient drill encourages spending less energy on kicking sets while helping the swimmer move more quickly through the water.
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images