Inspiring The Kicktastic

Today in Part 3 of our Swim Type series we take a look at the Kicktastic Swim Type. These guys and girls are famed for over-kicking but why do they do that and how should we go about improving their swimming?

Swim Type Profile 3: The Kicktastic

The Kicktastic is more often than not female and normally has a swimming background as a child, although they may have stopped swimming as an adolescent before taking it up again in adulthood.

Competent swimmers normally in the speed range 1:35 to 1:55 /100m, Kicktastics feel they only have one pace when they swim and always dislike swimming with a pull-buoy.

As you'd expect, Kicktastics have an ever present continuous leg kick at the rear of the stroke:

This can be very powerful over short distances but over longer distances in tends to settle down into a continuous rhythm. So regular is the kicking that you can often hear a kicktastic coming before you see them, with the continuous splish-splash-splosh rhythm of their kick!

Kicktastics lack arm propulsion and try and make up for that by kicking harder. Although kick strength varies from swimmer to swimmer, the key thing to appreciate is that the kick is fundamentally driving the stroke along.

The problem with their catch and pull through is two fold. Firstly, Kicktastics tend to drop the elbow and show the palm forwards at the front of the stroke:

Overgliders do this too but notice in the video of Julie above how this position isn't held - there is no pause-and-glide timing to it. At this point in the stroke, Julie should be in this position:

Secondly, Kicktastics tend to pull through with a straight arm under the body. Often they pull through wide too as we see Julie doing:

A straight arm pull creates little propulsion but places a lot of load on the shoulder muscles. The resultant fatigue often gives Kicktastics the feeling they are not strong enough in the upper body. That's not the case however, bend the elbow as we see Rebecca Adlington doing here and we'll be using the much stronger muscles of the chest, lats and back, making the pull through feel much easier:

The front angle underwater always provides a revealing view of a Kicktastic's stroke:

Notice the lack of propulsion in the arm stroke and how the legs at the rear are constantly driving things along.

Wetsuits And Pull Buoys

It's probably obvious why Kicktastics dislike pull-buoys as stopping the leg kick removes their main source of propulsion. But why do our overkickers dislike a wetsuit? - Because they already have fantastic body position in the water, the wetsuit actually lifts them too high at the rear of the stroke so that they start to kick into thin air.

Being too high at the back can also leave Kicktastics feeling unbalanced and unstable. The solution is two-fold, firstly invest in a lower buoyancy wetsuit such as the HUUB Aura:

Secondly, look a little further ahead when you swim. Julie above does this naturally in her stroke:

But many Kicktastics have been told to look straight down, which is terrible advice for them as it brings their rear too high:

Quick Kicktastic Facts

Typical speed range: 6:30 to 8:00 for 400m. Stronger over longer distances but feels they can't sprint.

Typical stroke rate: 60 to 70 SPM

Likes: Variety! Kicktastic can get bored easily so they enjoy mixed sessions with a mix of stimuli.
Loves: Long races - they tend to make excellent Ironman triathletes, in fact many female pros are Kicktastic.
Dislikes: Long sets (e.g. Red Mist sessions) as they find them boring.
Hates: Too much attention from the coach!

Learning Style: Normally very intelligent but Kicktastics can take a little while to absorb new information. Highly reflective.

From the left field: Often earthy people - we've noticed they commonly have ankle bracelets or foot/lower leg tattoos!

Next Steps - Inspiring The Kicktastic

As we work with Kicktastics to improve their swimming, the goal is to create more arm propulsion by improving the biomechanics of the catch and pull-through using key drills and visualisations.

As arm propulsion is increased, the tendency to over-kick will automatically fall away. We're not looking to kill your kick, just moderate it so that it is less energy sapping. Kicktastics are always best served by staying with a continuous flutter 6-beat kick, a slower 2-beat kick simply does not suit them.

Developing effective arm propulsion is will make swimming feel much easier (and faster!) overall - and give you that change of pace over shorter distances. We call this process 'Inspiring The Kicktastic' and you can follow it by subscribing to the Swim Smooth Coaching System:

Or by using the Kicktastic Swim Type Guide download:

About Swim Types

The Swim Type system is a way of understanding how the faults in a swimmer's stroke tend to cluster together in classic ways.

It gives you insight into the 'nuts and bolts' making up any swimmer and a highly developed step-by-step stroke correction process for each type to follow.

We've made the Swim Type system memorable and easy to understand by using a little humour and some cartoon characters. But don't by fooled, the insight behind each type is the result of a huge amount of empirical study involved thousands of individual swimmers over the last 10 years:

Find out more about the system on our dedicated microsite:

Swim Smooth!


Tomsmum said...

This describes me perfectly, luckily I got the email before today's swim and went to the pool with a few changes in mind.. The tips uou have reduced my strokes per length and made my swim feel less effortful, though required lots of brain power to think 'elbow' all the time!

Adam Young said...

Great stuff Tomsmum - keep up the good work, plenty more to come I'm sure!


Tony said...

Was lurking around and looking for some good tips to improve my swim style. Then i found your blog and would like to thank you for your very well described swim techniques!

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