FS flutter kicking

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FS flutter kicking Empty FS flutter kicking

Post by Don Wright on Thu May 16, 2019 10:30 am

Over the years I've seen various tips/videos for improving things.  I reckon "Sprinter" might have apoplexy if he reads this ( Twisted Evil  **) but his advice to kick with almost straight legs didn't help me move much faster than a snail - as evinced by the comment in a GoSwim flutter kick basics video clip on YouTube - the commentator said "Please don't!".  He recommended bods like me with stiff ankles, to keep the kick quite shallow, and use a decent knee-bend  (30-45 degrees perhaps) to setup the leg for a kick downbeat.  Poking the knee deep into the water for a kick downbeat obviously causes drag, but I noted the commentator saying "Remember the resistance you create setting up the kick must be overcome with the propulsion you generate!"

I found encouragement from another source viz - Sheila Taormina's "Swim Speed Strokes", on page 51 she writes : -


"To establish a powerful back-facing position with the feet, swimmers in all strokes must bend the leg at the knee before the propulsive phase of the kick"


She then gives an explanation on page 53 of Morozov's leg action (not an exact quote!).

"The knee is bent first to face the foot back on the water.  Then the downbeat is initiated by pressing the thigh down slightly, and continues the wave-like  motion as the leg is extended back/down - until the leg is straight, then the straightened leg is lifted to the surface for recovery".

When I tried it, I think muggins feet broke the surface -  which aint all bad, 'cos I remember SolarEnergy saying that as a lad, his coach shouted out to him during a kick-set, to "Tap your feet on the surface!" which necessarily involves knee bending!

Perhaps am getting too "complicated" - when all it really is - is a relaxed small kick backwards (with a relaxed knee joint) initiated from the hip to move the thigh in the required direction, as if preparing to kick a ball, then the lower leg will move a bit further back as the knee bends. Then it's just a case of kicking down  (initiated from the hip again) snapping the lower leg/foot down vigorously - followed by semi-automatic recoil to recover the straightened leg upwards and repeat the action.  Bods like me with stiff ankles need to avoid bringing the downward kicking leg in front of the torso line much - 'cos otherwise the insteps may kick water forwards - which aint helpful!

 Now why didn't I take this sensible idea "on board" yonks ago - I have to face it, I've been around long enough!  Have always been a "casual" non-club swimmer - just doing it for fun/exercise  (it helps keep me mobile, without seizing-up)!  If you frequent most swim pools at non-club times (or in my case just a "leisure/fitness" pool)  you will rarely see FS swimmers flutter kicking with even their heels breaking the surface! So that means most of us flutter kicking with almost straight legs are wasting our energy, not properly utilizing the power in our legs (so no wonder that I currently move better when keeping my legs "out of the way" * !) - unless we are blessed with very flexible ankles/feet - in which case, the flexible feet can take a momentary "backward-facing" attitude at the start of kick downbeats. I don't think the lower leg shins play any useful part when kicking in this fashion, just kicking the almost straight legs up/down from what is hopefully a horizontal position - with no real "backward-facing" component. So IMO, some of us (muggins!) need to "take a leaf" out of the breast-stroke swimmers technique of preparing for a kick (which for them, involves drawing the heels up in the direction of the butt - i.e. with knee bends!), swing the leg, with a relaxed knee joint, back/up and allow the knee to bend, maybe 30-45 degrees, getting even the shin in a momentary partially "backward-facing" attitude!

I did have some doubts about "The knee is bent first to face the foot back on the water" in the above extract describing Morozov's leg action - thinking about the probability of an ankle/foot rising above the surface, done in a vigorous manner - might cause a significant "curl-back" drag to forward movement, due to the lower leg moving momentarily against the desired direction of motion  Smile . Yet, on the other hand,  by doing a slower/more gentle action, of waiting  Rolling Eyes  until the recovering straight leg reaches the surface, before drawing the heel of that leg up in the direction of the butt (by a knee bend), prior to a vigorous kick down - although reducing the "curl-back" problem, does seem to introduce a "hiccup" in the otherwise continuous leg action. So what the heck - will just try swinging the recovering leg back/up, with a flexible knee joint allowing a bend!


  i played the GoSwim DVD "Freestyle with Roland Shoeman" last night, wanting to see the amount of knee bend he uses and compare it with that shown on another GoSwim DVD "Freestyle with Jason Lezak".  Both use that estimated knee bend at the end of the flutter kick upbeat - some 30-45 degrees!

Actually, there is a little story about that first DVD. I got it several years ago (leaving it in the padded brown envelope it came in) and gave it to my wife asking her to give it to me for the, then near, Xmas as another "pressi".  Well I was quite disappointed that Xmas - no DVD - and my wife said she thought it might have got thrown away since the envelope was so light she didn't look inside.  Happily (well the GoSwim DVDs are not cheap!) she was rummaging around last year, and found the "missing" envelope/contents!

I did learn some useful "pointers" to improvements I could make, which impinged on my ability to move a bit faster than a snail!  It's not in keeping with the topic title, but you know me - so often going "off-piste" .  This is what I learnt :-

( if, I can  decipher my hastily scribbled notes made last night! Smile  - the points are just in the order I remembered them after seeing the DVD - and of course a coach might have picked up other salient points! )

The commentator said that Roland uses his kick to drive the body rotation - the usual elite 6-beat kick style.

There is momentarily a straight line between R's extended lead arm and the rear arm about to exit the water, from fingertips to toes.  So he's well streamlined for an instant (Superman Glide style, but no visible glide).

He starts his inhalation early before the lead arm drops down to a catch - and he has finished his inhalation by the time the hand of the recovering arm passes his head.  He is careful to keep his head low, just relying on body rotation and neck turn to get to air,  The GoSwim commentator made the point that ordinary bods like us may not generate much of a trough to breath in - so we may find it advantageous to look to the side and slightly backwards when inhaling - or use the "Popeye" twisted mouth method of avoiding water intake. I don't personally feel entirely comfortable with such early breathing - mostly inhaling during the conventional stroking arm's up-sweep.  However I can understand that there are balance and other considerations that favour an early inhalation - before the stroking arm gets down to business!

As I have noted above, R swings his leg back/up to a similar extent as Jason Lezak for the kick upbeat, causing the feet to break the surface.  But the power comes from the effort applied in "snapping" the lower leg down for the kick downbeat.  The feet take down a lot of bubbles and the commentator said this was a good thing, because it aided a quicker leg action - as the feet kicked through the froth of air bubbles and water.

"R" throws his recovering arm/shoulder forwards into the lead arm's water entry. He doesn't make any move to drop the lead arm down to a catch, until the rear arm is about to exit the water. The inhalation was done early in the arm stroke, while in stream-lined attitude, so he can reduce the time spent in arm recovery - it probably takes longer if inhalation is done during the up-sweep!

On the business of a strong flutter kick downbeat - the commentator said that Roland was renowned for his "thunder kicks"!  I know that all that stuff is way beyond my ability, being mainly of concern to sprinters - but since I now mostly do one lap and then rest - I can at least try - that's the fun of swimming!

In retrospect, I think the commentator made a suggestion that the kick upbeat could impart some forward movement - and that would tie up with my own little experience when doing one-arm fly - in that the major kick dolphin upbeat, does augment forward movement.  Maybe it's the effect of the gradually rising hips during that upbeat, that squeezes water backwards towards the feet!?

Hmmm! I wonder how much of the above will help me!? Rolling Eyes

( *  Either during a couple of laps using a hip-driven "body swish" - a quick/vigorous downward flick of the hip on the same side as the arm entering the water, with the legs just part of that "swishing" action.  Or, during a couple of laps using an old GoSwim drill which I use as an exercise in "pressing the buoy", by nodding the head down quickly as the arm on my inhalation side enters the water, that produces a body undulation - raising the legs to the surface, but leaving them idle, just dragging them along!

** In the process of trying to get my 6-beat kicking right {said to be something that comes naturally to some - but not me!} - slowing things down so I could think about which leg I was kicking down with at various stages in the stroke cycle - I resorted to "Sprinters" idea of kicking with almost straight legs and used a very small amplitude kick, probably only about 6" between the vertical heel positions when they were moving up/down.  Was quite pleased with the outcome - just as good as the movement from the "swishing" body action mentioned above.  Maybe I was getting negligible propulsion from the legs, just aiding balance - but the body line felt more "pencil" shaped and the awkward feet didn't get in the way so much.  Result - I slipped through the water more easily - a bit more stream-lined perhaps. Will be adding a couple of laps of this to my swim session "to-do" list! )


Last edited by Don Wright on Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:08 am; edited 13 times in total

Don Wright

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FS flutter kicking Empty Re: FS flutter kicking

Post by Don Wright on Sat May 25, 2019 10:27 am

For a long time, my "dubious" version of 6-beat kicking (instead of my more lazy 2-beat kicking efforts) has merely been to effectively count "1-kick!-2-kick!-3-kick!" as each stroking arm does it's UW traverse - with each alternate leg kick downbeat, preceded by a deliberate knee bend, and the extending  lower leg (as the knee straightens) aimed to feel water pressure on the instep (so it feels like each foot in turn is acting like a paddle!).  I write that my efforts were "dubious", i.e. a bit haphazard, 'cos there was no regular association with a particular arm sweep, and which leg to use for that kick.  Also, I endeavored to do a slow'ish exaggerated arm recovery, to "fit-in" with the length of time spent in doing the UW arm stroke on the other side (instead of doing that, I suppose I could have spent more time in the extension of the recovered arm! - a "lead-arm glide"!)


However, there has been little effort on my part in "doing things as per book!".  I've been studying what Sheila Taormina wrote about this on page 158 of her book "Swim Speed Strokes" - and then comparing it with those excellent diagrams and explanation in Maglischo's, now quite old, tome (page 121).  It is a pity that those 2 sources start the 6-beat kick sequence at different phases and are using different nomenclature. I have sadly "lost" the old Mr Smooth animation during a PC restore (and quite a bit of other useful stuff, much to my great annoyance!) to overcome a "muck-up" - with his 6-beat kicking Mr Smooth would have been a great help! It's the relative disposition of the arms during the AW and UW action, that is of interest to me.  As I have reluctantly had to have a "lay-off" from swimming for a while,  due to a vile cold (so as not to possibly get yet another lot of water into the soggy sinuses) - I have had plenty of time to study what has been written and have plenty of "thinks"!


First the nomenclature difference :-

M's "in-sweep", originally referred to the old semi-circular high elbow pull, with forearm vertical, starting from the catch, drawing the arm back/in closer to the ribs, to increase the UW stroke path length - the supposed gain from a longer path length was found to be "illusory", and that an almost straight "pull-thro" (as per SwimSmooth's ideas) is better.   Sheila calls this "traversing the diagonal".  Sheila also makes a great point of calling the last phase of the UW arm stroke, (M's "up-sweep") the "Triple P" ="Power Packed Punch" - aided by a strong kick downbeat by the leg on the same side as the arm sweeping up to the surface.  I like Sheila's emphasis on that, because by flinging the stroking arm back vigorously, one can impart greater "oomph" to that phase!    M's "down-sweep" is just the action from an arm's extension down to it's "catch" (No pressing down allowed, or the legs will sink. As a "leisure" swimmer, I like to think of it as almost a "dropping" action of the arm, until it gets to a decent depth and the forearm/hand are backward-facing. Though in actual fact, am an "EVF"-er as regards the "down-sweep" - everyone to their own "taste"!


A brief explanation of M's diagrams  (a)-(f) follows : -

(a) Right arm at catch, Right leg kicks down
     LA at mid-recovery, LL recovers

(b) LA extends, LL kicks down
     RA starting in-sweep, RL recovers

(c) LA drops down, LL recovers
     RA starting up-sweep, RL kicks down

(d) RA starts recovery, RL recovers
     LA at catch, LL kicks down

(e) RA extends, RL kicks down
     LA starts up-sweep, LL recovers

(f) RA drops down, LL kicks down
    LA exits for recovery, RL recovers


Another point I noted when looking at M's diagrams of the different phases of the action - was that at the end of his "in-sweeps", the swimmers elbow was slightly bent, so that in effect, the elbow preceded the wrist a bit, in a backward stroking direction.  Maybe I'm "reading" into that action more than is truly the case - but it seemed to me that this action might be a start of what "SolarEnergy" called "passing the elbow", to bring that elbow under the body and provide a greater force as the triceps muscle (behind the upper arm/shoulder) initiates a strong "back/up" force providing that "oomph" - bringing us back to Sheila's "Triple P" idea again!


It is clear from M's text and accompanying diagrams (and Sheila's instruction list) that there is a simple "rule" (Thanks be - I should find it easy to remember!) connecting particular arm sweeps and their associated kicks - viz : -

For each down-sweep made with an arm, it is the leg on the same side as that arm which kicks down.

For each in-sweep made with an arm, it is the leg on the opposite side to that arm which kicks down.

For each up-sweep made with an arm, it is (like the "down-sweep" rule) the leg on the same side as that arm which kicks down.



HOWEVER! The second YouTube link I include below does things the other way round - as I comment later!

According to M "...the coordination between arm sweeps  ... and leg beats is so precise that the beginning and end of each downbeat of the legs coincides exactly with the beginning and end of the corresponding arm sweep. Large arm sweeps are accompanied by large kicks, but the kick will be smaller when it's corresponding sweep is smaller.  This probably explains why many 6-beat swimmers have what appear to be major and minor kicks during each stroke cycle"


I looked on YouTube for a suitable clip that would help me understand whereabouts in the kicking routine, the arm recoveries occur - I thought the GoSwim one was best : -

www.youtube.com/watch?v=boC_jliweo8

there is also another quite interesting, nearly 11 minute long, video of elites swimming FS  with commentary on salient points : -

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMDemnq7xYg

 which has a section on 6-beat kicking (from 5:42 to 6:20) that really confused me - just when I thought I knew what I ought to do! The commentator (supported by overlaid frame annotation) said : -

"Right hand enters the water - left foot kicks down" then a short time later "Left hand enters the water - right foot kicks down"

                                                           ... which is definitely not what Taormina and Maglischo indicate!

It seems to me as a non-expert, that when a recovering arm is being thrown forwards for entry, that we should continue that body roll in the same direction - so that as we obey M's "body roll mantra "Roll towards the arm going down into the water, and roll away from the arm coming up out of the water" we ought to do the first kick down of the 6-beat stroke cycle with the leg on the opposite side to the entering arm! This will lift the hip on that opposite side to the entering arm, and tilt us a bit more in the direction of the arm going down into the water.

Basically, there is a little "difficulty" between M's body roll mantra - which works beautifully for 2-beat kickers - and it's application to a 6-beat cycle! So perhaps M's mantra should be "shelved" when 6-beat kicking, just relying on each "kick down" (lifting the hip on that side) to tilt the body in the appropriate direction.


That last video also has an interesting section about the arm "3/4 catch-up" some elites use after stroking on their inhalation side - to help restore balance after any "disruption" caused by the inhalation!?

When I get back in the water again in a couple of days - will try things out - and hopefully learn from the inevitable mistakes - "learning" never ends! Rolling Eyes

Don Wright

Posts : 184
Join date : 2017-07-11

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