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
Competent swimmers normally in the speed range 1:35 to 1:55 /100m, Kicktastics feel they only have one pace when they swim and normally dislike swimming with a pull-buoy.
This can be very powerful 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, 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, they tend to drop the elbow and shop the palm forwards at the front of the stroke:
Overgliders do this too but notice in the video above how this position isn't held - their's no pause-and-glide timing to it. At this point in the stroke the position should look like:
Secondly, Kicktastic tend to pull through with quite 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 giving Kicktastics the impression they are not strong enough. 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 is a great angle to view the Kicktastic from:
Notice the lack of propulsion in the arm stroke and how the legs at the rear are pushing things along. #decided not to mention lack of rotation as it's only a brief profile#
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 many overkickers dislike a wetsuit? Because they already have fantastic body position in the water, the wetsuit actually lifts them too high at the read of the stroke so that they start to kick into air.
Being too high at the back can also leave them feeling unbalanced and unstable. The solution is two-fold, firstly invest in a lower buoyancy wetsuit such as the HUUB Aura: www.swimsmooth.com/huub-wetsuits.html#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 when they swim, 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. 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 variety of stimuli.
Loves: Long races - they tend to make excellent Ironman triathletes, 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. Good arm propulsion is much more efficient than kicking, making swimming feel much easier (and faster!) overall.
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.
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: