3 Ways You Can Improve Your Swimming Kick

Myles Brown
Photo Courtesy: Quinn Rooney

By Wayne Goldsmith

Originally posted on April 15, 2015

Wouldn’t it be great if kick sets could be interesting, challenging, exciting and something every swimmer looked forward to doing at every workout?

Well they are and here are 3 Ways You Can Improve Your Swimming Kick

You’ve just got to look at kick differently

1. Stop doing slow kick.

Slow kick is one of those old habits in swimming whose time has come and gone. Stop doing slow kick

It doesn’t do anything to help you swim faster.

It has limited effect in helping you recover between swim sets.

All slow kicking really does is give you a chance to talk to your training partners about what you did last night, what you’re wearing to your next date or what’s the latest news you’ve heard about your favorite TV show.

Instead, make kick sets more interesting, more challenging and more effective by completing them with a real focus on achieving a specific goal.

Some excellent and challenging kick goals are:

  • Kick 25 metres in under 20 seconds;
  • Kick 50 metres within 10 seconds of your 50 metre PB swim time;
  • Kick 75 metres in your 100 metre PB swim time;
  • Kick 200 metres of your best stroke in under 3 minutes;
  • Kick 400 metres of your best stroke in under 6 minutes.

When it comes to slow kicking, it’s time to “kick” the habit!

Photo Courtesy: NFHS/AIA/SwimmingWorld.TV

Photo Courtesy: NFHS/AIA/SwimmingWorld.TV

2. Swim your kick work relative to your swimming T.R.P. – Target Race Pace.

Another great way to improve your swimming kick is to perform your kick sets relative to your swimming T.R.P. – your target race pace – i.e. the pace you are aiming to swim at your next meet.

So for example, if your swimming goal is to swim 1 minute 10 seconds for 100 freestyle at your next meet, practice doing kick sets which are progressively faster relative to the achievement of that time.

For example: 10 x 50 metres kick on 1:30:

  • 1st 5 repeats at 120% of your goal swimming pace.
  • 2nd 5 repeats at 115% of your goal swimming pace.

Or you might extend this type of goal focused kick set to something like this:

6 x 100 kick on 3:30 holding 120% of your goal swimming pace.

Kick sets such as these are very effective for swimmers of all ages in that by being future-focused, i.e. by being directly relevant to the achievement of a future swimming goal, swimmers will be more engaged with their kicking practice and highly motivated to work harder on their kick than ever before.

And of course the great thing about this system is that as your kick time improves relative to your goal swim time….120%, 115%, 112%, 110%…and ever lower…then your swim PB just keeps getting faster and faster.

Jul 12, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Michael Phelps warms up prior to the Saturday finals of the Bulldog Grand Slam at Gabrielsen Natatorium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

3. Take as much pride in your kick PBs as you do in your swim PBs.

When’s the last time you rang a friend to tell them all about your 100 metre kick PB?

Or when did you last rush home to tell your family you’d broken your all-time 200 metre kick PB?

Take as much pride in your kick PBs as you do in your swim PBs.

By elevating the way you think and talk about the skill of kicking it gains a much higher level of importance in your overall swimming training program.

When you can say with genuine excitement and real conviction, “My training is going really great. My 100 kick time is down to 112% of my goal swimming time, I am kicking 78 metres in my 100 PB swim time and I’ve just broken 3 minutes for a 200 kick for the first time” – you will not believe just how fast you will swim at your next meet!

Great kicker = Great swimmer and unstoppable athlete.

Wayne Goldsmith



  1. Janet Wolff- Stewart

    Sierra Stewart this article was written just for you in mind

  2. Laura M Wanco

    Can not relate I go backwards.

    • avatar
      Penny Kronengold

      I had the same problem, going backwards or just staying in place, until about a month ago. I’m over 80 and imagine learning how to kick at that age (with the help of my coach and a swimmer friend). Practice and technical correction did it, and I’m most pleased!

  3. avatar

    Hi Laura – Wayne here.

    I’ve worked with triathletes and others who kick and go backwards….so relax – you’re not alone.

    Here’s a few suggestions:

    1. Do some hip and ankle flexibility exercises. This will help you to kick a little more easily. I find that with runners, footballers, basket-ballers, triathletes and others that their hips, hamstrings and ankles are often so tight that it’s very difficult for them to get into the right positions to kick effectively.

    2. Don’t think about kicking HARD – think about keeping your legs and feet loose and soft as you kick.

    3. Never point your toes when you kick – this just creates stiffness and stops the nice flowing, easy, relaxed movement we’re looking for.

    4. And perhaps most importantly remember this tip – the faster you want to go, the more relaxed you have to be. As you try to kick faster – take a deep breath and relax even more. Don’t try to force a fast kick. Stay relaxed, keep it smooth, keep your legs and feet soft and you might be surprised how well you go.

    All the best – thanks for reading my post.


  4. Tom O

    I thought I was going to read an article about how to improve my kick–Not “3 Ways to Die a Painful Death in the Pool”

  5. Ian Reichow

    Nicholas Martin

  6. Billy Arfianto

    Lena Margaretha Lili Sutanto

  7. Jamie Placke Arkenberg

    Maybe with would work!! And they wouldn’t have to take my non kickers fins away from her in the future

  8. Allie Maxwell

    Anthony Harris; today’s practice!

  9. Robert Lucas

    Vicky Brown next time you’re coaching include some of these kick sets…interesting reading..x

  10. Vicky Brown

    Yes I just read that Robert …. Good plan

  11. Donna Marsh

    Connor Marsh Liam Marsh

  12. Julia Hogg

    Sophie Colson hahaha

    • Sophie Colson

      Thanks will read up HAHAHAHAHAHAH

    • Ruth Hall

      pfft i dont need this but you on the other hand…..

    • Ruth Hall

      pfft i dont need this but you on the other hand…..

    • Ruth Hall

      pfft i dont need this but you on the other hand…..

  13. Hayden Melnik

    Clarise Fourie I’m sorry had to hahah

  14. Penny Rollo

    Nicholas Rollo William Rollo

  15. Zi Qin L

    Kick PBs yoooo JR Jacob Ng

  16. Dan Porat

    Eileen Reiner

  17. avatar
    Kent Hurst

    Great kickers are made, not born …

  18. avatar
    Antonio Tapper

    Is this for real?
    I reckon if you can kick within 110% of your PB swim time you should be worrying about improving your swimming not your kicking 🙂

  19. Lin Tozer

    Cameron Gillespie lol

  20. Ed Eckels


  21. Alison Miller

    Yep, interesting ideas. Looks like an absolute suffer fest. All the best for improving yourself.

  22. Lance Robinson

    I hated kick sets until i decided to focus on building a strong kick. Now i love kick time

  23. Gary Stoops

    Mark Stoops

    • François Caudal

      Thanks broe ! Si yer pas trop tard j’essaye sa ?

  24. avatar

    Thank you

  25. Sean Doonan

    Taylor Doonan

  26. Antony Edwards

    Jerome Elliott. This is interesting!

    • Jerome Elliott

      I was was actually thinking we should do some kick time trials during the speed set!

    • Antony Edwards

      Our next Kick set this week or Monday morning next week?

    • Tomas Najman

      Shut up. I’ve already seen this. I tried tonight. It didn’t help.

  27. NZ Kksa

    Jeong Hyun Kim

  28. Isabella Finestone

    Hannah Haswell Lisa-Nicole Scholtz #swimtealgoals

    • Hannah Haswell

      Answer my whatsapp dude

  29. Nick Zorn

    Anastasia Klyarovskaya

  30. Catherine Barrett

    Imagine you are being chased by a shark

  31. Cheyne Fisher

    Myles seen this oke before?