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Should Swimmers Still Be Using Kickboards? (The Answer May Surprise You!)

The short answer is: yes! Kickboards are still a highly effective training tool despite the advancements in specialty swimming gear and equipment. And while some argue kickboards can have negative effects on a swimmer’s stroke, many of those effects can be avoided with the proper concentration and focus during kick sets.Take a look at some of the reasons why we’re still advocating for the trusty kickboard.

Kickboard training

  • You Can Focus Entirely on Your Legs & Kick

  • The main purpose of a kickboard is to isolate your legs so you can focus exclusively on your kick. Conditioning your legs and goes beyond just a fast kick, however--building up your leg muscles will help you maintain control in your strokes as a whole, helping you to finish strong during races. Kick sets are also ideal for drills and fine-tuning technique and kick mechanics, and the kickboard deters swimmers from using their arms to assist or cheat through sets.

  • You Can Give Your Arms & Shoulders a Break

  • With the exception of breaststroke, the pull is the main power and propulsion of a stroke. By using a kickboard for kick sets, you can let your arms and shoulders rest and recover for a bit during your workout. If you’re experiencing shoulder problems, however, using a kickboard in place of pulling might not be your best bet. Arm and shoulder position while hanging onto a kickboard could cause further irritation to an already-sore shoulder.  

  • You Can Work on High Hip Position

  • When used correctly, a kickboard can promote proper hip position in the water. Holding the kickboard with the bottom positioned in your armpits will allow your hips to rise high up in the water, which is ideal. Some coaches argue kickboard use promotes the exact opposite, but it’s up to the swimmer to be mindful of where they are holding the board and how they are using it for kick training.

  • Sprinters Can Practice with Flat Hips

  • Kickboards limit a swimmer’s range of motion in the water, including roll and rotation. Since you’re not turning to breathe or rotating an arm pull, your hips are likely to stay relatively flat as you use a kickboard. This is ideal for sprinters, as in most cases, they don’t roll their hips as much as swimmers in distance events.

  • Breaststrokers Can Practice with Ideal Flotation

  • Kickboards can simulate an ideal breaststroke position in the water. While focusing on improving and strengthening their kick, breaststrokers can also enjoy a similar height in the lane with the added flotation from the kickboard. A fast breaststroke is dependent upon a high and strong chest during the pull, which the kickboard can closely resemble.

  • Beginners Can More Easily Learn Kick Mechanics

  • Learning to swim and mastering each stroke can easily become overwhelming to a beginner. Using a kickboard to isolate the legs to only focus on kick allows beginner swimmers to take a stroke one step at a time, while learning different kick mechanics without also having to worry about using the correct pull, or even just staying afloat. Using the kickboard and keeping their head out of the water will also make it easier to receive instruction and feedback from the coach.

  • You Can Breathe Freely

  • There’s truly something to be said about being able to breathe freely while training in the pool! Without a kickboard, swimmers must focus on breathing patterns, underwater mechanics, flip turns, and streamlines--all of which limit oxygen intake. While using a kickboard, swimmers can breathe in as much oxygen as they need, which means they can also work at a harder pace than when limited by having to take strategic breaths. Swimmers can go all out on kick sets as their leg muscles receive constant, consistent oxygen.

    Ultimately, when deciding whether or not to use a kickboard in your swim training, you must consider what you want to accomplish and how the board could help you achieve those goals.  

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