FINIS Tip Of The Week: Breaststroke Kick On Your Back

Welcome to the “FINIS Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), each tip is meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

The majority of the power in breaststroke comes from your kick, which needs to be timed correctly with your pull to maximize your propulsion in the stroke. This week’s tip looks at how a simple drill, breaststroke kick on your back, can help fine tune not only the timing of your kick, but also your body line and the direction of your momentum.

First and foremost, this drill highlights reinforces the correct mechanics of breaststroke. Being on your back forces you to recover the legs behind your body, rather than bringing them up under your body, a key point for getting forward propulsion from the kick.

Use the opportunity of being on the back to focus on driving the kick from bringing your heels up, turning the feet out at the last second to initiate the press phase of the kick. This drill will highlight those who may struggle with this skill, as their knees will likely be breaking the surface as they initiate their kick.

Weaker breaststroke kickers may also notice themselves bobbing up and down after each kick. Reinforce the idea of snapping the legs together together at the end of each kick, finishing in line with your body and trying to get as much glide as possible between kicks. This will also help swimmers understand that in order to maximize the propulsion of their kick, they need to have an engaged core and be aware of having their body in a straight line at the end of each kick.

While this is a great drill for beginners, anyone can benefit from taking time to slow down and intentionally practice this drill. Take the drill one kick at a time, using it as an opportunity to focus on bringing the heels up fast, turning the feet out, and whipping the legs around to provide strong propulsion forward while holding a proper body line.

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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