BY RUSSELL MARK // HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT
There are supposed to be two kicks in fly – one as the arms enter the water (1st kick) and one as the arms exit the water (2nd kick) – however, many swimmers usually miss the 2nd kick or have a very faint 2nd kick. Both of the kicks should be equally big and powerful – not one big kick and one little kick. Here are some tips that can help your 2nd kick.
The 2nd kick is extremely important because it helps keep your body moving forward when your arms are recovering over the water. If you watch just the kicks of the best butterfliers, it’s very hard to tell which kick is the 1st and which is the 2nd. Here are the kicks of three US Olympians:
Hard to tell, right? For all three swimmers, the first kick you see in the video was actually the 2nd kick – the one as the arms exit. It actually looks like it’s bigger than the 1st kick. That’s how significant that kick is to fast swimming – it plays a very big part.
Here’s what you can do to improve your second kick:
1. Bend your knees. If your knees aren’t bent to set up the kick, then the kick will never happen. Swimmers that don’t have a 2nd kick never even get it started. Watch the video again and look at how much knee bend each kick has. Not quite 90 degrees, but definitely a significant amount.
2. Bring your knees forward. Your knees need to go downward so you can keep your feet in the water the whole time. Your legs need to bend a little at the hip in order for this to happen. This is the hardest part of the 2nd kick. Again, watch the video and you can notice a subtle bend between the hip and the thigh.
3. Slam your feet down. The 2nd kick is something you have to force because it doesn’t fit naturally into the stroke like the 1st kick does. After you set the kick up, slam your feet down as hard as you can until it’s fully extended.
Focusing on these points are most important when you take a breath. Many swimmers will have a second kick when they don’t breathe, but lose it when they breathe.
For more tips from the National Team High Performance staff, visit the National Team High Performance Tips archive.