Friday, April 28, 2006

Beginner Kickboard Concepts

In recent posts, I've suggested water familiarity, breathing technique, and body positioning. Moving on to kicking will give you a chance to practice all those skills and a couple more. If you've ever seen someone who is skilled using a kickboard, you'll get my drift. These folks can move in a dead straight line and place their face in and out of the water for breathing as needed. Sounds simple enough, but kickboarding is harder than it looks and some people make it harder than it needs to be. First off, let's talk about why we want to use a kickboard in the first place. Using a kickboard repeatedly while you learn, and even after, will help your body develop muscle memory. Kids develop that muscle memory by playing. You've got to do it deliberately. You need to kick when you swim, but it's not something you want to spend a lot of time thinking about. There are too many other things to concentrate on. So learn to use a kickboard and you will develop some critical swimming skills that will come in very handy later on. To start, get a kickboard and get in waist deep water near a pool wall. Before you kick, you should learn to balance. Hold the kickboard flat on the water with your hands on either side. Put it out ahead of you at arm's length. DO NOT lie on it. It's a guide, not a float. Holding your board out in front of you, push off the wall with one or two feet and see if you can maintain a straight line. Choose a target ahead of you and aim for it. As you slow down, put a foot down onto the floor of the pools and push off again. Repeat this over and over until you can go dead-straight with no tips to the left or right. When you are comfotable, try flutter kicking gently. Again, keep things straight. Your body should be torpedo straight. In my next post I'll discuss different kicking techniques and how some are more efficient than others.

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