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Dolphin Kick Technique

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Post by cechols1 Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:42 pm

Hello, and thank you to all who read this for your time but to make sure im using the dolphin kick technique correctly, when the undulation reaches the hips are you supposed to feel a stretch in the body in the waistline area? im just trying to determine where there should be a stretch (or where you should feel one) so i know im pressing the hips down far enough thank you!

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Post by Sprinter Thu Oct 28, 2021 10:56 pm

I don't think there is a fixed notion of "correct technique".
It depends on
- your age and fitness
- your swimming abilities
- your swimming goals.

I myself became a happy butterfly swimmer and happy dolphin kicker by *forgetting* everything about "undulation", as explained in my post
https://theswimforum.palstani.com/t246p25-1h-fluttter-kicking#2675

That is, concentrating on the first essentials, that is, propulsion. Everything else comes later. But if you can do say 50m butterfly in 40s or faster, then you likely will be more advanced.

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Post by Sprinter Fri Oct 29, 2021 9:47 am

I thought about the "elementary theory of dolphin swimming" (not competitive, but also not slow).

I got these ideas from an accomplished trainer for adult swimmers, at all levels, and himself a competitive butterfly swimmer. I don't want to name him, since I might oversimplify what he is saying. But he clearly always said, that at the basic level butterfly is like front crawl, only with double arm and double leg movements. And that he clearly said that the common big movements of adult late starters, these big ups-and-downs, cost a lot of strength without giving you anything.

So the arm movement of butterfly is the same as for front crawl, only with both arms together. Thus you must recover over the sides (no high elbow recovery possible), and the hands enter the water directly at the front, without any forward-movement. From that it follows that your upper body is at a small upwards-angle for the arm recovery, and that must be undone with a small dive at the time of the arm entry. There is that style of long-distance dolphin, where you really go for a deep dive here, but there is no need for that, and easiest (and fastest) is to just let the small fall happen, feel for a short moment the stretch in the chest, and them immediately aim upwards and start the pull (which in one circular movement, as the front crawl, accelerates towards the centre and exits around the hips).

The leg kick is like the flutter kick, but without movement of the whole legs and with a bigger knee bend instead (in the upward direction!). As with flutter kicking, you don't want to break the straight line from the arms towards the knees, and here comes then the feeling of a stretch, especially with the isolated dolphin kick, namely when bending the knees, then you need to keep your line from the arms to the knees straight, only the knee bend (upwards). For efficiency the knees need to stay close together (that adds to the stretch), and (as with the flutter kick) for the kick the feet bend then inwards (dynamically, not static as with the flutter kick).

Sure in this way your feet will stick out, above the body line, but that is harmless for the place where the kick is most needed in butterfly: the loss of momentum after the pull needs to be compensated, and one needs to land with good speed after the recovery, so that just the lift gained from the speed is enough to get your direction up again, and so the stronger kick comes after the hands left the water -- and here you are at an angle anyway, so the feet are hidden behind the body!

For underwater dolphin alone that technique likely doesn't give you maximum speed, but with my modest amount of training the (whole) butterfly (say twice per week 100m - 200m) I can do the underwater dolphin with say 30s for 25m. This weekend I'll measure that again, to see what is the natural speed here. (Nicest in a pool with at least 2m depth, so that you don't run into problems with depth control.)

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Post by Sprinter Mon Nov 01, 2021 1:04 am

The whole week I was somewhat short of breath, and today I could only do a maximum of 22.5s (26 beeps with 0.9s/beep) under water (with underwater dolphin), in which time I made what looked like 12.5m + half of the next 12.5m. Felt natural. No concern about any hip movements, but just pulling the feet to the bottom, and then a double-legged (big) flutter kick, with inward pointed toes and the knees held together, and the upper legs straight.

I noticed that when I do my 50m butterfly (56s and 54s), then actually I don't do a bigger kick when recovering the arms. So well, I for now just do what feels natural. And for that looooong distance ;-) my arms need a rest after entry, and so they actually go into full streamline ("on the way up"). Sure that's not maximum speed, but old man needs a rest!

I actually like that going into full streamline before starting the pull. So I got "stuck at the front", as they say, and it's not so easy to overcome that: when I go faster, over 25m, then my max speed is around 21s, but so well, I don't worry about that too much -- being happy that it works out reasonably well. When going faster I guess then it really becomes important to do the strong kick when recovering the arms, so that you immedidately can start the pull after entry.

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Post by Don Wright Sat Nov 20, 2021 11:22 am

Hi "Sprinter",  am impressed by your achievements - "good on yer"!  I came here  "a-looking" to see the latest on "fly" stroke.   Am now reduced (due to age etc) in what might be called a "crippled-mode" existence.  I definitely keep to the slow lane at my pool which has steps down to the uniform depth (4ft) 25M pool.  The lane width is about 7ft wide, meant for 2 swimmers going clockwise - using 1/2 each) and due to my sight problems now (cataracts and extreme myopia) the usual swimmers allow me to keep by the wall side of the lane,'cos I cant see the lane ropes on the other side of the lane, and when FS swimnming get my recovering arm tangled up with it. The usual ladies who swim in the other half of the lane say that they are "looking after me"!!!  Smile

 As a change from my usual FS, side-stroke, and 1-arm fly "endeavours" am re-visiting fly stroke and have been concentrating on "breast fly" so that my "arm scoop" and UW arm recovery do not impede any swimmer in the other half lane.  Due to old-age stoop and inability to stand straight  upright have had to learn to snatch an inhalation by side-breathing , instead of inhaling to the front (my mouth doesn't clear the surface if I look to the front, despite using the old technique of"passing the elbows under the tum before doing the big push back of the arms - so as to get the max upward lift to aid inhalation.

 I noticed in the posts, above that there was no mention of the part that the head can play in doing the (major) fly kick upbeat.   If one stands upright with hands on  on a mid-waist support, one foot firmly on the ground (i.e. balance over it) and the other just touching the floor - then a forward "nod" of the head translates into a movement of that other leg back and up.  In the water this movement initiated by the head "nod" forwards performs a fly kick upbeat without putting any muscular strain on the spine whatever.

 Of course one does not want rto keep on "nodding the head" but IMO it's only required to get the legs up close to the surface for the major kick of the stroke.  For the following minor kick (we musn't leave the legs hanging down after the major kick downbeat is done)  Think it's helpful to switch the concentration back to the feet when "recovering" the legs up to the surface, to ensure an unbroken continuous leg action.


 I seem to have lost the knack of doing "underwater body dolphin" with my nose a few inches above the floor tiles.  I tried  this recently without the buoyancy shorts I normally wear over my Speedos, So as to cut-out the upward buoyancy tug of those shorts.  Very disapponted! I couldn't repeat my old actions, despite seemingly doing it all properly!  Perhaps in the old Kettering pool (7ft deep) at the far end, the weight of water above me helped keep me down!  From a push down to near the floor tiles, in stream-line attitude I used to press the extended arms down slightly, which raised the hips, which fell under gravity, and the motion continued along the body with the feet doing a little snap down just as my front was starting the  next arm "wavering" action.  I think it was recommended that as the feet snapped down to complete the dolphin kick, one should "reach forwards" as tje next "arm press down" was done.  The whole action being done at a reasonably fast rate.

 When(!!!) I'm ready to do an over-water arm recovery, think I might be able to do a more normal one if I can keep a decent elbow bend as the arms pass over the water, instead of a sraight wide-arm" recovery.  I've had to do that sort of arm action for the arm pull when doing the double arm "pull" of my favourite "old English Backstroke".  More of a pull of each am being kept close alongside the body, so as not to impede anyone in the other half-lane!

Don Wright

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Post by Sprinter Sun Nov 21, 2021 3:35 pm

Hi Don, regarding the head, I believe one should avoid all additional movements. So I believe the head should just do its natural little action, the minimal lift for breathing, and then going back to neutral. Also for health reasons I think one always should strive to minimise head movements (but, of course, allowing for the natural movements).

Why would there be any need for the head(!) to help the kick? There shouldn't be any connection between the head and the legs, in general.

Now I imagine that your problem is that in general your movements and the whole sequence will be relatively slow -- and perhaps most problems in swimming result from going too slow (the faster the easier -- in a sense ;-) ). The slow speed interrupts the flow of movements, and instead all body parts get a life on their own. When looking with completely alien eyes at swimmers, then perhaps the biggest difference between a competitive swimmer and the rest is in the complexity of movements: the worse the swimmer the more complex the movements (all good swimmers look rather similar (when swimming reasonably fast)).

Still, I can't believe that sending a shock wave through the body is really the right answer. My experience with the legs and their problems is, that it all comes down to core strength.  The improved core strength I obtained from the flutter kicking removed for me all problems related to not having enough control of the legs.

I actually, at my current stage, do not worry at all about the number of kicks (2 or 3 -- both can be done), or how big or small they are --- this is all in a flux, and I observe it. There is a big difference between the slow form, with a pause at the front, and the fast form, with a continuous arm action, without any pause at the front.

I only do butterfly when I have a whole lane for myself (so that I can swim in the middle). Underwater dolphin I (mostly) only do in the 2m deep pool, so that I can keep a nice distance from the water surface as well as from the bottom. At my current stage, I don't worry about the size of the kick. I think it is rather difficult to precisely control the depth when doing underwater dolphin, and it is much easier when you have space to maneuver.

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Post by Don Wright Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:47 am

Hi again!  Re your bit about the head action in fly : -

"Why would there be any need for the head(!) to help the kick? There shouldn't be any connection between the head and the legs, in general."

I remember one expert coach saying  that for fly stroke "The body follows the movement of the head".

I thought the basic principle was to emulate a dolphhin's undulatory body action.  In that case, a slight "head nod"  down in the direction of the pool bottom starts a sort of ripple involving the neck and then passing further down to successively lower parts of the spine,  then the thighs, lower legs and feet. Which takes time - but before the body ripple or undulation" reaches the feet, the front of the body is already into the start of the next "body ripple". Either - if UW by wavering the outstretched arms down briefly through a shallow angle (10 - 20 degrees maybe?) -Or if up at the surface, by doing a slight "head nod" towards the bottom.  Think Sheila Taormina recommends such head action in one of her books, as part of the preparation for a fly "catch",  the head pressing down briefly just velow the level of the outstretched upper arms - an action that elevates the legs up closer to the surface.

Don Wright

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Post by Sprinter Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:07 pm

With vague formulations like "the body follows ..." very likely is meant what other's might call "head-lead movement", which meanings nothing else then just that the movement is *started* by the (small!) movement of the head. It is just about the order. It never implies any kind of big movement, just the small natural movement of the head: up for breathing, and then down again, and this only for the purpose of timing. No "nodding". The head in competitive swimming is always as still *as possible*.

When entering the water, after the recovery, then one needs to keep the head in neutral position, only the *chest* one tries to press down (as flexibility allows).

Regarding the (in)famous "undulation": what's the point of that? Propulsion is only created by moving water backwards. Up-and-down movements have to be minimised (there is zero gain by moving water up or down).

If anything "passes down" from the head to the feet (only that counts!), then it's tiny and irrelevant. And what would "pass down" for me -- I can surely tell you that's just nothing! Which adult spine would be capable of "passing down" such a movement? Very few.

I believe that whole "undulation" business has no meaning for butterfly swimming up to intermediate level (with good speed). First, as always, you learn to swim with your muscles, that is, good strong pull and good kick. Only after that is working out in a natural way, does one start refining this action. So that "undulation" only sits on top of a strong natural movement. In every sport you start with relatively big movements, and over time refine them.

In my case, I might never get to that refined stage in butterfly, just due to the missing flexibility. And as I discovered, that doesn't matter! A reasonable flow and good workout is perfectly possible without ANY of that (it's just in the way -- good riddance to "undulation").

Of course, bodies are different. As I already mentioned, there is one type of butterfly swimming with big exaggerated "undulation", where you go heavily up and down. I can't find a video about that, but I have seen it, and I have seen it mentioned for the non-competitive swimmer as a slow endurance-form. But also here you would do only slow small careful head-movements. The head only *leads*, but never directly affects the rest (much).

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Post by cottmiler Mon Nov 29, 2021 2:52 pm

I wonder what sprinter thinks of this home exercise routine!
I have,nt tried doing it.

https://youtu.be/-OKQnehCRLA

cottmiler

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Post by Sprinter Mon Nov 29, 2021 3:47 pm

I personally don't see the point of such exercises (why spending any time on such things? in principle the butterfly is easy). But people are different, of course.

I would also think that without the feedback of the water, it could be misleading (at least my body is much stiffer than the body of that guy).

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Post by Don Wright Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:48 pm

I have been looking around to see if there is any evidence for the use of a "head nod" (or brief head push-down) at the start of a fly stroke.

Exhibit 1 Page 92/93 of Sheila Taormina's "Swim Spedd Strokes" in the section on butterfly.  Page 92 shows 8 snapshot frames at different stages of the stroke.  In frames 1 & 2 for the first kick of the stroke and arm entry/extension - showis in frame 1 & 2 that her head is pressed down below the level of the outstretched upper arms.  Indeed, the  explanatory text on page 93 explicitly states : -

 "In frame 1 her hands/arms enter the water,and she simultaneously begins the first kick.  She completes the kicking action as she extends her arms overhead (frame 2).  The kick is vital at this moment - it helps Elizabeth maintain forward velocity since her arms are not propulsive during this part of the stroke cycle. Notice that during the first kick, Elizabeth presses her head and chest DOWN  and FORWARD, which resultsina slightly pike body position -  with hips at the peak(FRAME 2).  By  moving the core on the axis in this manner, water flows smoothly past the body and upper legs, minimizing resistance and thus minimizing deceleration.
 After finishing the first kick, Elizabeth recovers her legs straight up in a STRAIGHT-LEG POSITION and attends to the details of the catch ...."

     
On the otherhand I studied Phelps fly stroke on my "SWIM FAST" old dvd and could not see any evidence of him pressing his head down at the start of a stroke (or any such action when he swims one-armm drill or UW "body dolphin"

 


Exhibit 2 Have also studied my old "A Shaw Way To Fly" dvd for butterfly beginners.  (There are 3  lessons on this on YouTube I think, under the same title as the DVD) - On close inspection there are some clear indications that in order to start a dolphin kick upbeat one should press the head/chest down a little, while the recovered arms are extending and before the "arm scoop" is begun.

  On the DVD at the end of the DVD there is a "wrigglY" representation of the body action  to emulate that of a dolphin, and that representation clearly shows a head nod at the start of each stroke to initiate what they call "The Wave" or kick upbeat! IMO a good thing about it, was the emphasis on the "knee bend" part of the action so as to present the shins in a more backward direction  for the end of the kick downbeat. There was a comment about a weaker second "wave" which in the stroke would normally occur as the arms are recovered.. They also gave a warning that one should not kick too vigorously and that "nothing is hurried"!!! I.e. It's instruction for a fun/leisure style of stroke.

The photography was done at the Hyatt Regency pool in the Taba Heights, Southern Eggyption Sinai Peninsula - and Vikki Harmer the instructor ends the last lesson in the hotel pool by saying "The sea awaits!" followed by her swimming fly stroke for what is clearly a longish distance over a stretch of calm OW, towards a rocky beach in the distance.


Can only conclude that it is a matter of personal preference - I absolutely need it because I have below normal buoyancy!  Without doing it - my legs drop down dramatically.  For me the action elevates the legs up to the surface for a brief moment after the "nod". (I use the same technique when swimming FS with inhalation on every 4th arm stroke - so as to keep the legs high up, near the surface.)

I was quite pleased in my recent efforts, to be able to do the weaker secondary leg kick as my arms recover UW so as not to upset swimmers in the other half of the lane (my "full wing span" would take up most of the lane width.) My Phelps DVD has a section on the "Distance and Balance" drill. in which Phelps does several dolphin kicks until he is sure that his legs are up high near the surface, before starting the next full stroke. That gave me the "example" to follow for my "secondary" kick action - He makes it look very graceful - but sort of heaves himself forwards to start the next full stroke!

Don Wright

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Post by Don Wright Sat Jan 08, 2022 12:43 pm

Regardibg the brief "head nod down" after the arms have recovered and about to start the next "scoop" (or arm outsweep).. The video I refered to "A Shaw Way To Fly" does on, closer inspection show in Steven Shaw's case that he does nod the head down briefly - looking at the pool bottom - then he looks forward for the start of the scoop. The other demonstrator - Vikki - doesn't do it so much - so I guess, this is because ladies are more buoyant than chaps and stay up closer to the surface (reckons "Sinky Legs" muggins!

While looking at respirces I saw the following :-

www.vimeo.com/424567693

in which Steven Shaw gives various tips about the stroke - some of which I will "take on board" and try out. Wasn't very impressed about the description of the scoop , but found the part about the kick action helpful /

Due to oldage dpinal curvature (stoop!) I need to give extra attention to getting my mouth above the water line for inhalation. At present Am usimg SolarEnergy's advice from the old SwimSmooth forum , that recommends at the transition from arm pull to push - to use the"passing the elbows" trick which means moving the elbows more quickly than the hands so that both elbows are positioned as if they are about to dig into the tum. Thus enables the forearns (at some 45 degrees to the surface with hands close together somewhere below the head) - to give a more powerful completion of the scoop action as the arms upsweep finishes. That action squeesea a wedge of water upwards against the adjacent underside of the torso - thus giving more upward lift, to facilitate inhalation. It is clear from this that it is wasteful to do the final part of the scoop with arms wider than the torso.

Don Wright

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