Kicking drives speed, controls body position and is essential in the timing of all strokes. Legs are the most understood part of the body especially for swimmers and their coaches. The understanding of how long it takes to get your athlete’s legs in shape, taper and rest your swimmers’ legs is a detailed and essential part of training.
1. When you begin your season, kicking needs to be 50% of your total practice. You will drop the total % of kicking slightly until week 16. Once your 7 week taper begins you will need to set detail yardage amounts for each practice. Weeks 1-3 will include 1,500 yards of kicking per day, week 4 at 1,200, week 5 at 1,000 – 500 as the week progresses, week 6 at 750 and week 7 depending on how your championships are scheduled will go up slightly on the first day of practice to 1,500 that week and taper down drastically to 500 yards. The exact kicking practices are detailed in the 23 week seasonal book.
2. Please adhere to strict maximum distances throughout the season. Please keep in mind that as your swimmers get into better kicking shape you are creating race pace kicking needed for championships. The exact maximum distances during sets will be greater at the beginning of the season and shorter during taper. This detail becomes more important during taper.
3. Instead of kicking one speed during each set you will need to set parameters for your variable speed distances as well as the percentage change of effort of the desired distances. Your variable speed distances will also taper with the season as well as the variable speed effort desired, again this detail becomes more apparent during taper. For example, the first few weeks a kick set will have 4 x 200’s free kick with variable speed by 100. The first 100 will be kicked at 65% effort followed by the second 100 at 85%. A similar set during taper would change to, 4 x 100’s free kick variable speed by 50, 75% for the first 50 followed by the second 50 at 90%. Please explain to your swimmers that they really need to judge percentage efforts and do the sets as written.
4. Sprint kicking and easy kicking are essential parts of each set. Spiking heart rate and recovery worked into each set throughout the season and yes of course planned exactly during your detailed taper.
5. Remember that the goal of the kicking plan throughout the 23 week season is to prepare the swimmer for race pace kicking. Kick test sets are needed to determine how fast each swimmer must be in each stroke when they achieve their goal times in meets. I would do a few kick test sets immediately after champs to help you determine race pace kicking speed for the swimmers next season and adjust future kick sets accordingly. During taper you will have your swimmers perform broken kick sprints. For example, 2 x 100’s top stroke kick with #1 broken(rest) at the 50 for :10 seconds and #2 broken at each 25 for :05 seconds. This should give you an idea how fast each swimmer will need to kick a 100 stroke to achieve the actual 100 swim in meets. For example Joe Smith swam a :48, 100 free at champs and his previous kick set before champs he timed out at 1:10, so he will need to train his kicking 100 race pace work at1:10 during sets.
There is a lot of planning needed to help each swimmer with kicking. Plan on helping your swimmers with the speed needed during practice kicking to perform during champs. Kicking is boring and does lower the daily yardage but is too important to neglect. This article didn’t cover underwater kicking but we all know how important that is. The 23 week season details how much fly kick to do each week off every single wall during practice. Teach good streamlines and fly kicking and tell your swimmers why the 15 meter lane line markers exist. Why? you ask, well because kicking done correctly underwater is the fastest part of swimming. Yes, kicking!