How do I know I'm kicking from the hips not the knees

by Hanna Docherty
(Scotland)

Hi Dale



I've been practising the freestyle stroke for some weeks now and think I'm getting better at it. However, I am still not sure whether my leg kicking is correct.

Can the shape of a kickboard make a difference to help force me to kick from the hip? Or are there any other 'tell-tale' indicators I can use to help me make sure I am doing things properly? Any advice you can give would be much appreciated!
Hanna Docherty Scotland

Hi Hanna,



Thanks for your question, no, the shape of a kick board cannot make you kick from the hip. You could change the angle of the kick board to create resistance to help you improve the power of your leg kick. Simply hold your kick board vertical in the water with straight arms insuring the kickboard is submerged under the water. Then kick against the water to gain stamina and strength of your leg kick.

The main pointers you must follow is


1. Floppy ankles, keeping knees straight
2. Legs together and toes touching
3. Fast leg kicking, but short kicks


To know if you are kicking from the hips, simply ask yourself these following questions:



1. Are you making a splash as your moving along the pool? (if yes you are probably bending your knees)


2. Are you moving at all? If no then you could be still kicking from your hips but you could have ridged ankles, if you start moving backward then the answer is probably yes. Ridged ankles causes the swimmer to scull backwards)


3. Does the water make waves rather than boil when you swim with legs, ie does the water seem to move from underwater or does it move up and down. If up and down you may be kicking form your knees but not enough to make a splash. If the water seems to be boiling then you are kicking from the hips.


Practice holding the side and kicking your legs, try kicking your legs on the back and look to see if you are kicking from your hips. If you are doing it well on your back then chances you are doing the same on your front.

Get a friend to watch you kick your legs on your front to see it you are doing it correctly.....

but all in all if you are moving at a good rate, not moving backwards. Also remember the leg kick isn’t a big propulsive action. About 5% is from your legs the arms do the rest. The legs simply keep you in horizontal position as well as keep you in a straight line. As long as you move and it isn’t too laboured I think you’ll be ok :)Just keep practicing.....


I hope this has been of some help to you. If you do have more questions about your leg kick or anything else please get back in touch.......

Dale :)

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Aug 18, 2012
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Very useful tips
by: Hanna Docherty

The tips you've given me are very useful and my guess is that sometimes I'm doing it right, i.e. kicking from the hips (more or less), and at other times still kicking with the knees (that's when I stop getting anywhere). I will definitely try out your suggestion of holding the board upright so as to make me kick harder. Thank you very much Dale!

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