How to Teach a Child to Kick While Swimming


Some children seem as if they are only dragging their feet, and when put on a kicking board, they don’t seem to be able to move at all. They are probably kicking from the knees, instead of the hips.

Some children have enormous chests and very strong arms. When they swim, they propel themselves through the water using their arms only. There are famous swimmers who have highly irregular styles. Instead of using what’s considered a normal six-beat kick, they use an “abnormal” combination of a two-beat and a four-beat kick. (A six-beat kick is six kicks to one complete arm circle.) These swimmers usually have a strong upper body and use their legs only as a balance to their powerful arm stroke.

Every action has a reaction. If you pick up a heavy bucketful of water and carry it a certain distance, the other arm will automatically spring up as a balance. In swimming, kicking serves as a balance to breath­ing. When the swimmer turns even slightly for air, his body loses its balance because of the change of posi­tion, so the opposite leg will kick out slightly more.

I remember having a pupil called Matthew who came to my swimming school for style correction. He was swimming a very pretty stroke, having spent the previous four or five years in his own backyard pool. Matthew had taken up swimming as a sport and spent the summer training every day with me at an outdoor, Olympic-size pool. Halfway through the season, Matthew’s father came to me and, horrified, he showed me how his son’s pretty six-beat kick turned into an ugly two-beat kick. I explained to him that doing two to three miles in a practice session had built up his upper body. When not flat out, he used the two-beat kick, but in sprints, his kicking speed in­creased to six beats.

When children are not kicking a lot, don’t be alarmed. If they are swimming along, moving at a reasonable speed, give them plenty of kicking-board work. With practice they will eventually get the knack of kicking.

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About the Author: By profession, Ralph Crutcher is a swimmer but enjoys playing football, Golf, and regularly goes to the gym to keep himself fit and healthy. This is one of the reasons; he likes to write about sports and fitness.

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