Dolphin Kick: Training Tips for Improvement


By Katie Arnold//National Team Coach Fellow

We are frequently asked for dolphin kick training tips and ideas to improve under waters. We have found that the keys to a strong dolphin kick are core and leg strength, ankle flexibility, and executing quick, snappy kicks that finish all the way through the toes. Based on these keys, we recommend using both vertical kicking and a monofin to improve dolphin kicking.
Doing sets with a monofin will not only build strength in the appropriate core and leg muscles needed for dolphin kick, but it will also improve ankle flexibility. The key with using a monofin is to start slow and build up to larger sets as the swimmer becomes stronger.


Sample Monofin Set:
8 x 25 @ 1:30 all out kick for time
-This set should be repeated on a regular basis (every week, every other week, etc.) so the athletes can see and feel their progress.
-Athletes who have never used a monofin should start out with fewer 25’s and build their way up.
-While longer distances can be used (30 or 35 meters), the focus should be on race simulation.


Vertical kicking should be used to improve kick speed and balance. Vertical kicking in a streamlined position requires short, fast kicks to keep the head above the surface of the water. It also forces the athlete to have a more balanced kick (up kick and down kick). This is again something that should be started slowly and built-up as the swimmer becomes stronger.


Sample Vertical Kicking Set:
Rounds of 30 seconds kick, 30 seconds rest:
20 seconds dolphin kick with hands crossed over the chest
10 seconds dolphin kick with hands in a streamline (head should remain above the surface of the water the whole time)
30 seconds rest


This set can be modified by adding more rounds, decreasing the rest time, or increasing the kick time based on the strength of the athlete.

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