How to Teach a Child Dolphin Kicking

Have the children hold on to the edge of the pool, then ask them to try to do a new kind of kicking—dolphin kicking.

Keeping the knees lightly together, the children should move both of the legs up and down vertically simultaneously. The legs shouldn’t be rigid; the knees can bend slightly, and the hips and upper body can move as well. Once they’ve got the hang of this, have them turn to face the pool.

  • “Does anybody know what a dolphin is?”
  • “It’s Flipper on television.”
  • “That’s right. How about trying to be Flipper and try to swim just like him.”
  • “But he doesn’t do dolphin kicking.”
  • “Of course he does, he’s a dolphin. Now, put your hands on the sides of your legs so you don’t move your arms, take a deep breath, face in the water, and try to dolphin-kick across the pool. Look like a snake, like a rocking-horse, and like a dolphin, all rolled into one. Don’t be afraid to wriggle your bottoms.”

So off they go. Surprisingly, they all do a perfect dolphin kick.

First have them practice dolphin kicking by holding their hands on their sides. Later on, their arms could be stretched out in front. Practicing dolphin kicking while holding on to a kicking board makes them rather stiff, so try to avoid using it. When their dolphin kicking goes well, put the butterfly arm movements and dolphin kicking together.

I think I should digress to explain how that rather weird combination of butterfly (insect) and dolphin (swimming mammal) came into being.

Once there were only three swimming strokes: free­style, backstroke, and breaststroke. At the 1952 Hel­sinki Olympics a Hungarian girl won the 200 meter breaststroke event in incredibly good time using but­terfly arm strokes and breaststroke kicking. People using the butterfly arm stroke in a breaststroke race were so much better than those who were doing ordinary breaststroke only that the international swimming body decided to separate the two events. A little bit later on, some swimmers started to experi­ment with a new kind of kick to combine it with the butterfly. The new kick resembled a dolphin’s move­ments and that’s how dolphin kicking was born.

The general public thinks that the butterfly is a hard stroke, but it’s not so. To do just a few strokes is very easy. To compete in a butterfly race is another matter. Without training and preparation it would be impossible. But the same goes for all strokes.

I’ve found that children are eager and willing to learn the butterfly. Maybe it’s the romantic name that appeals to them. In a few cases, I had children learn­ing and swimming the butterfly before they could do the freestyle.

Anybody who is going to teach the butterfly, please tell the children to watch where the wall is so they don’t hit their head. (Cut foreheads have occurred only when the children were doing the butterfly. It somehow doesn’t happen with any of the other strokes.)

Filed Under: Sports & Fitness


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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