Confused about kicking

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Pat, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Pat

    Pat Guest

    x-no-archive:yes

    On the one hand, all of the world class swimmers kick steadily when they swim the crawl. When people
    post videos for us to study, all the swimmers are kicking their legs.

    On the other hand, people constantly write in and say that kicking doesn't matter or it's optional,
    or it has no value, etc.

    Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at all. He was moving through the
    water pretty well, but why would it be beneficial to drag his legs like anchors behind him?

    Today, I saw a guy kicking, but with his knees bent, and his butt was sinking quite a bit. A woman
    swam by, kicking until she turned to breathe--and then she suspended the kick while she got some
    air--so her kicking was sporadically.

    All of this is confusing to me, a recreational swimmer. Should we just kick all the time or by some
    stroke count, or what?

    Pat in TX
     
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  2. Dakitty

    Dakitty Guest

    "Pat" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > x-no-archive:yes
    >
    > On the one hand, all of the world class swimmers kick steadily when they swim the crawl. When
    > people post videos for us to study, all the swimmers are kicking their legs.
    >
    > On the other hand, people constantly write in and say that kicking doesn't matter or it's
    > optional, or it has no value, etc.

    Not true. Although, for varioius reasons, certain people (usually not elite athletes) have
    problems with their kicking. Where it doesn't create any forward propulsion, so they just decide
    they're better off letting their feet just dangle. If you want to swim sort of 'by the book' you
    want to be kicking.

    > Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at all.
    He
    > was moving through the water pretty well, but why would it be beneficial
    to
    > drag his legs like anchors behind him?

    There could be several reasons...
    1. there is a specific exercise (in swimming it's called a drill) that requires you to swim arms
    only for a few laps. This helps strengthen the arms. In most of those people put paddles on their
    hands to increase the resistance even more.
    2. He was getting tired or a little bit lazy, and didn't feel like using his legs.
    3. Maybe his kick doesn't work (doesn't create forward propulsion), so he was just letting his
    legs dangle.

    > Today, I saw a guy kicking, but with his knees bent, and his butt was sinking quite a bit.

    Yea, that is not "by the book" kicking. He seems to be having problems with his kick.

    > A woman swam by, kicking until she turned to breathe--and then she suspended the kick while she
    > got some air--so her kicking was sporadically.
    >
    > All of this is confusing to me, a recreational swimmer. Should we just
    kick
    > all the time or by some stroke count, or what?

    You definately should kick all the time. The reason you see people not doing it, or doing it
    sporacdically is because it's much easier said than done. If you're swimming freestyle, ideally, for
    each armstroke you should make 3 beats with your feet. Think of it as a waltz... left
    arm-1-2-3...Right arm-1-2-3... Kicking does not stop or pause, just keeps going sort of in sync with
    your armstrokes. You'll notice it gets tiring, and can be awkward.

    Your feet should be relaxed, but toes allowed to point. A lot of people don't have ankles that are
    flexible enough to have their foot in a relaxed position, and have their toes point (like a
    ballerina) at the same time. In that case they end up needing to use their calf muscles to point
    toes. The more your toes are pointed, the more forward propulsion you'll get out of your kick
    (assuming you're doing the rest of the kick correctly) Your knees should be somewhat relaxed, and
    allowed to bend slightly as you kick. But, not bent a lot (like not making an L). Kicking motion
    starts with the thighs and butt (and even some of the lower abs and lower back can get involved).
    The lower part of your leg (knee and down) shoulld really act as the dangly part of a fin (on a
    fish) which exaggerates the motion that the hips and thighs have started.

    Also, there are several books aout there that explain this pretty well. Among many other places, you
    can find some pretty decent info here: http://www.zoomers.net/new-thekick.htm
    http://www.zoomers.net/

    Happy swimming :)

    > Pat in TX
     
  3. Pat wrote:
    >
    > x-no-archive:yes
    >
    > On the one hand, all of the world class swimmers kick steadily when they swim the crawl. When
    > people post videos for us to study, all the swimmers are kicking their legs.
    >
    > On the other hand, people constantly write in and say that kicking doesn't matter or it's
    > optional, or it has no value, etc.
    >
    > Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at all. He was moving through
    > the water pretty well, but why would it be beneficial to drag his legs like anchors behind him?

    There are two basic kicks, the six beat kick and the two beat kick. The six beat kick is the one you
    mean when you say "all the swimmers are kicking their legs." The two beat kick is the one the guy
    who wasn't kicking was using. With some people, it looks like they aren't kicking at all, and that
    is partly true. They don't get much thrust at all from their kick, but it does serve to balance
    their arm strokes, and in that sense it is very important. Long distance swimmers use this method,
    and people like me who get no propulsion from their kick at all. If you can get comfortable doing
    the six beat kick, it is worth the effort to learn. Some people have a lot of trouble doing it
    because it must be sychronized with your arm strokes. But it isn't a requirement, so don't let
    anyone make you feel like you must do it.

    martin

    --
    Draft Wesley Clark for President! www.DraftWesleyClark.com

    Martin Smith email: [email protected]
     
  4. Colin Priest

    Colin Priest Guest

    "Pat" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]... <snip>
    > Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at all.
    He
    > was moving through the water pretty well, but why would it be beneficial
    to
    > drag his legs like anchors behind him?
    <snip>

    His legs are only anchors is they are causing drag. If the swimmer kept them in line with their body
    then they would be swimming quite efficiently. Leaving out the legs leaves more energy for the arms.
    If that swimmer's kick is inefficient, then they will swim faster by putting the extra energy into
    their arms.
     
  5. De Valois

    De Valois Guest

    Pat left this mess on Sun, 14 Sep 2003 14:11:49 -0500 for The Way to clean up:
    >
    >x-no-archive:yes
    >
    >On the one hand, all of the world class swimmers kick steadily when they swim the crawl. When
    >people post videos for us to study, all the swimmers are kicking their legs.
    >
    >On the other hand, people constantly write in and say that kicking doesn't matter or it's optional,
    >or it has no value, etc.
    >
    >Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at all. He was moving through the
    >water pretty well, but why would it be beneficial to drag his legs like anchors behind him?
    >

    The large share of propulsion in the crawl is from the hands. Kicking adds a minimal amount of
    lateral propulsion (else, you'd never get anywhere with a kickboard), but the main purpose of
    kicking is to balance the body and streamline your legs easily.

    The "hands-only" crawl is a time-honored drill designed to strengthen the shoulders and arms by
    dragging the legs behind. There's a variation as someone pointed out, with a two-beat kick, but it's
    also done with no kick at all, supporting the legs with the back and abdominal muscles.

    >Today, I saw a guy kicking, but with his knees bent, and his butt was sinking quite a bit. A woman
    >swam by, kicking until she turned to breathe--and then she suspended the kick while she got some
    >air--so her kicking was sporadically.
    >

    By not using the large muscles of the upper leg and trunk, he was not supporting his legs very
    well. You see the result: his backside slings down to compensate. As for the sporadic kicker,
    likely she's had issues about breathing during the stroke along the lines of walking and chewing
    gum at the same time.

    >All of this is confusing to me, a recreational swimmer. Should we just kick all the time or by some
    >stroke count, or what?
    >

    Whatever works best for you, Pat. There is no one right answer, especially if you're just in it for
    the work and not competitvely.

    Tao te Carl

    "It takes a village to have an idiot." - Carl (c) 2003
     
  6. Rtk

    Rtk Guest

    Martin W. Smith wrote:

    >
    > There are two basic kicks, the six beat kick and the two beat kick.

    There seem also to be variations mostly dependent on breathing. Because I alternate breathe and I
    benefit by a kick that will correct the displacement caused by turning my head, I instinctively kick
    then. This gives me one distinct kick every three breaths, so I have a sort of 1
    1/2 beat pattern, that is, one emphasized kick per three strokes. The other kicks are there, but
    very small. I've often seen 4 beat kicks among efficient swimmers, 3 when the breath is taken and
    one otherwise.

    Ruth Kazez
     
  7. rtk wrote:
    >
    > Martin W. Smith wrote:
    >
    > >
    > > There are two basic kicks, the six beat kick and the two beat kick.
    >
    > There seem also to be variations mostly dependent on breathing. Because I alternate breathe and I
    > benefit by a kick that will correct the displacement caused by turning my head, I instinctively
    > kick then. This gives me one distinct kick every three breaths, so I have a sort of 1
    > 1/2 beat pattern, that is, one emphasized kick per three strokes. The other kicks are there, but
    > very small. I've often seen 4 beat kicks among efficient swimmers, 3 when the breath is taken
    > and one otherwise.
    >
    > Ruth Kazez

    It sounds like your head turn is throwing your body out of alignment. That shouldn't happen. I
    suspect you are lifting your head more than turning it, but I would have to see your stroke to
    say for sure.

    martin

    --
    Draft Wesley Clark for President! www.DraftWesleyClark.com

    Martin Smith email: [email protected]
     
  8. Rtk

    Rtk Guest

    Martin W. Smith wrote:

    >There are two basic kicks, the six beat kick and the two beat kick.
    >
    > It sounds like your head turn is throwing your body out of alignment. That shouldn't happen. I
    > suspect you are lifting your head more than turning it, but I would have to see your stroke to
    > say for sure.

    A four beat kick is very common among the best swimmers. Even a minimum head turn benefits by a
    compensating emphasis on the accompanying kick.

    If you don't look closely, you can't see my head turn at all; I breathe into the bow wave. Obviously
    if I lifted my head, there would be no need for an extra kick because that wouldn't cause any
    lateral displacement of the legs.

    Ruth Kazez
     
  9. rtk wrote:
    >
    > Martin W. Smith wrote:
    >
    > >There are two basic kicks, the six beat kick and the two beat kick.
    > >
    > > It sounds like your head turn is throwing your body out of alignment. That shouldn't happen. I
    > > suspect you are lifting your head more than turning it, but I would have to see your stroke to
    > > say for sure.
    >
    > A four beat kick is very common among the best swimmers. Even a minimum head turn benefits by a
    > compensating emphasis on the accompanying kick.
    >
    > If you don't look closely, you can't see my head turn at all; I breathe into the bow wave.
    > Obviously if I lifted my head, there would be no need for an extra kick because that wouldn't
    > cause any lateral displacement of the legs.

    Then I am surprised that you associate the compensatory movement with your breathing, and I can't
    say whether it is necessary. In my case, there is none associated with my breathing. It is all
    associated with my stroke, but I only do a two beat kick.

    martin

    --
    Draft Wesley Clark for President! www.DraftWesleyClark.com

    Martin Smith email: [email protected]
     
  10. Rtk

    Rtk Guest

    Martin W. Smith wrote:

    It is all associated with my
    > stroke, but I only do a two beat kick.

    I've noticed quite a few alternate breathers have only a one and a half beat kick rhythm.
    Fortunately, the kick can take care of itself and doesn't need to be counted. I wouldn't want an
    arbitrary kick based on theory that may not apply to my particular needs.

    Ruth Kazez
     
  11. 4precious

    4precious Guest

    "Colin Priest" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > "Pat" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]... <snip>
    > > Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at all.
    > He
    > > was moving through the water pretty well, but why would it be beneficial
    > to
    > > drag his legs like anchors behind him?
    > <snip>
    >
    > If that swimmer's kick is inefficient, then they will swim faster by putting the extra energy into
    > their arms.

    Colin, have you been paying attention to anything that goes on in this user group?

    The efforts of the arms CANNOT overwhelm the energy delivery system of the heart, lungs, and blood
    stream. That's because those systems were God given, or evolutionarily selected to feed the much
    larger energy sink of the leg muscles. As Dr. Weisenthal has pointed out many times before, our
    upper body musculature is more like turkey breast muscle, white and non-vascular, as opposed to duck
    breast muscle, red and vascular and capable of the high levels of energy output necessary to fly.

    Chad Carvin had a severe cardiac myopathy. That means a significant part of his heart muscle died,
    and no longer pumps blood. And yet he's one of the World's greatest male distance swimmers. If he
    was a runner, or a cyclist, his career would have been over.

    So there's definitely energy left over to put into kicking. Kick for propulsion, kick for balance,
    kick for weight loss.

    There's also the evidently accepted theory now that lactate produced by the arm muscles, can be
    burned by the leg muscles if the swimmer is kicking at a moderate rate. That is a rate in which the
    leg muscles themselves don't produce more lactate than they can consume as fuel. The arms themselves
    are very poor at using the lactate as an energy source.

    So it makes absolutely no sense to drag your legs behind you and use the "extra energy" for the arms
    - there's plenty of extra energy even when employing a moderate kick.

    Eric
     
  12. Colin Priest

    Colin Priest Guest

    Precious,

    Have YOU been paying any attention to anything that does on in this user group?

    Kicking harder takes some energy away from the upper body. If your kick moves you backward, then you
    are wasting energy (assuming that you want to swim fast) because you will swim slower. Just reread
    the thread about kicking harder causing slower swimming, but burning more fat. Doesn't that thread
    ring any bells? You have posted on it.

    Talk about setting up a straw man! Show me where I used the word "overwhelm" and I might start
    assigning you some credibility. Show me where I said that the efforts of the arms could overwhelm
    the energy delivery system of the heart, lungs, and blood stream.

    Both the upper and lower body take part of their energy from a common source - blood (sugars and
    oxygen). So it makes sense that the efforts of one can have a partial effect upon the other.

    All I have implied is that the efforts of the legs can take energy away from the upper arms - not
    the opposite way around. The case is even simpler for those with a non-propulsive kick.

    For some people it makes PERFECT SENSE to drag their legs behind them.

    Colin

    P.S. Next time you decide to have a go at me, think before you write.

    "4precious" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "Colin Priest" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > > "Pat" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > <snip>
    > > > Yesterday, I saw a guy swimming the crawl without moving his legs at
    all.
    > > He
    > > > was moving through the water pretty well, but why would it be
    beneficial
    > > to
    > > > drag his legs like anchors behind him?
    > > <snip>
    > >
    > > If that swimmer's kick is inefficient, then they will swim faster by putting the extra energy
    into
    > > their arms.
    >
    > Colin, have you been paying attention to anything that goes on in this user group?
    >
    > The efforts of the arms CANNOT overwhelm the energy delivery system of the heart, lungs, and
    > blood stream. That's because those systems were God given, or evolutionarily selected to feed
    > the much larger energy sink of the leg muscles. As Dr. Weisenthal has pointed out many times
    > before, our upper body musculature is more like turkey breast muscle, white and non-vascular, as
    > opposed to duck breast muscle, red and vascular and capable of the high levels of energy output
    > necessary to fly.
    >
    > Chad Carvin had a severe cardiac myopathy. That means a significant part of his heart muscle died,
    > and no longer pumps blood. And yet he's one of the World's greatest male distance swimmers. If he
    > was a runner, or a cyclist, his career would have been over.
    >
    > So there's definitely energy left over to put into kicking. Kick for propulsion, kick for balance,
    > kick for weight loss.
    >
    > There's also the evidently accepted theory now that lactate produced by the arm muscles, can be
    > burned by the leg muscles if the swimmer is kicking at a moderate rate. That is a rate in which
    > the leg muscles themselves don't produce more lactate than they can consume as fuel. The arms
    > themselves are very poor at using the lactate as an energy source.
    >
    > So it makes absolutely no sense to drag your legs behind you and use the "extra energy" for the
    > arms - there's plenty of extra energy even when employing a moderate kick.
    >
    > Eric
     
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