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Strengthen your legs and your strokes with a kickboard.
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Usually made of lightweight, durable foam and available in various sizes and colors, kickboards are a mainstay prop at most lap pools. The boards support your upper body and allow you to isolate your legs and master the kicks of the four swimming strokes - freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Kickboard drills also lend to perfecting your body position and form in the water, which can greatly help you to become a stronger and more efficient swimmer.
Position and Form
Getting off to a good start is key in achieving proper body position with a kickboard. The kickboard should be flat on the water directly in front of you. Push off from the wall and elongate your body right away. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your lower back, which stabilizes your body and helps to keep your hips at the water line. Push the shoulder blades down and away from your ears as you straighten your back. Avoid tilting your head up or down, which can throw your body out of alignment.
Flutter Kick Drills
Used in both the freestyle and backstroke, the flutter kick is one of the most regularly executed kicks. Lay the kickboard flat on the water in front of you and place both hands at the top of the board. Slide your shoulder blades down your back, engage your abdominal muscles and lift your hips to the water line. Begin your flutter kick, which is similar to a soccer kick. Generate power from your thighs while maintaining a bent knee and relaxed ankles. Keep the kick small and productive.
Often called a frog kick, the breaststroke kick strengthens your inner and outer legs, the adductors and abductors, which are regularly used for power during the stroke. Place the kickboard in front of you in the water and hold onto the top with both hands. Push off from the wall and elongate your body. Start the breaststroke kick. Bend your knees and bring your feet up to your butt. Point the toes out to the sides and push back with the bottoms of the feet and bring the legs together.
The dolphin kick, which is executed during the butterfly stroke, resembles the up-and-down movement of a dolphin's tail. The motion starts at your core and the power travels down your legs, which move in a whip-like motion to help propel the body forward. To practice the dolphin kick with a kickboard, place the kickboard in the water in front of you and take hold of the top. Push off from the wall and keep the legs together. Engage your core and press your hips down as you bend your knees and kick the feet down. Bring the feet up again, and continue kicking in a fluid motion.