- Conduct a warm-up routine to prepare for a quality underwater kick in practice and in races
- Create a simple system of drills that allows swimmers to explore how to best develop their own technique
- Get a variety of drills to improve the start, underwater kicks to the breakout, turn, and mechanics of the stroke
- Get full stroke progression drills that will encourage good body position and rhythm
with Kevin Zacher,
Scottsdale Aquatic Club Head Coach;
American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Level 5 certified coach;
2007 ASCA Arizona Age Group Coach of the Year
Underwater dolphin kicking is a critical skill every top swimmer needs to master. However, many coaches struggle with how to successfully incorporate the underwater kick into warm-up, drill and training sets.
In this video, Coach Kevin Zacher shares his strategy for helping each swimmer find the right size and tempo of kick for their current abilities. He introduces drills and training sets that build speed, endurance, and power for swimmers of every age group, including warm-up routines his world-class swimmers use on race day to be sure their underwater swimming provides them with the best possible competitive edge.
Warm-up Routine for Underwater Kicking
Coach Zacher addresses the importance of including underwater kicking in warm-ups. This helps activate the core and prepare breathing stamina safely. He addresses the difficulty some swimmers have with breath control, encouraging swimmers to learn how proper breath control feels.
Establishing an underwater warm-up routine during daily practice also gives his swimmers an edge on race day. Swimmers who are aware of small daily variations in their underwater kick are better prepared to sense how their kick feels in race warm-ups and make adjustments to emerge at the right mark with optimum explosive speed.
Underwater Kicking Drills
Zacher shares drills designed to help athletes find their ideal mix of amplitude and tempo of kick for their body type and fitness level. He uses resistance drills to help swimmers feel the water and eliminate dead spots for consistent rhythmic power throughout each kick cycle. Other drills help swimmers hold their ideal body line by challenging their core so that they can engage their entire body in the underwater stroke. Kicking drills work the stroke in both directions, so that the up kick is as powerful and propulsive as the down kick.
Underwater kicking benefits from the use of equipment that either assists or resists the swimmer's efforts. Adding resistance helps the swimmer feel weak spots in their kick to build consistently rhythmic and powerful strokes. Coach Zacher shows you how to add:
- Nets or kicking socks to build water feel in the feet, to encourage proper angles for maximum propulsion.
- Drag with parachutes to help your swimmers feel that more power is generated from manipulating the movement than from simply kicking harder, creating more effortless speed.
- Assistance, such as with fins, allows swimmers to swim at race speed longer, building familiarity with pace without fatigue that could break down technique.
By creating physically and mentally challenging underwater kick training sets, Zacher establishes the importance of underwater kicking and helps swimmers understand the intensity he looks for in training and in races. Kick speed sets break down world class kick speed into small segments that athletes can master and then build on by increasing duration or reducing rest between sets. Drill/Training combination sets like Cobra Drills help swimmers carry underwater speed through their breakout and into their strokes. Turn sets teach swimmers to treat the approach/turn/pause/underwater and breakout into a cohesive attack on the turns for maximum speed.
Bonus: Question & Answer Session
Coach Zacher engages world-class underwater kicker Ryan Hoffer in a discussion of some of the frequently asked questions he has received when training the fifth stroke. This segment makes it clear that the best underwater swimmers pay attention to detail in training every day so that they can come to recognize natural variations in their stroke. The swimmer describes how training loads<
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