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If you're going to work on your breaststroke kick, don't just think about how much water you're pushing back, consider your rhythm, and how quickly you can recover your legs for the NEXT kick. In other words, make sure you're working BOTH sides of the kick.
Why Do It:
Fast feet both upward and downward in the breaststroke kick are essential to a great kick. In the downward move, you want to connect with the water and throw it back forcefully. In the upward move, your goal is quickness. You want the setup to be done as quickly as possible to eliminate any extra resistance.
How To Do It:
This drill is simple to execute, but it does require one of our favorite tools: the Tempo Trainer. The TT is a small, waterproof metronome that you set to BEEP at a desired rate, and that you place under your cap to help you maintain the rate. In this drill, you'll be going from a slow rate, to a fast rate, so make sure you start at a comfortable rate that gives you plenty of room to increase the rate.
1. The swimmers in our video clip start with the Tempo Trainer set at 1.70, i.e., the TT will beep every 1.7 seconds. For these particular swimmers, 1.7 is a comfortable, easy rate. For other swimmers, 1.7 may seem like too fast a rate. Choose a beginning rate that feels comfortable and requires you to HOLD your streamlined body position after you complete each kick. At the beginning rate, you may need to fight the desire to kick again. Stay patient, and hold your streamline.
2. After a length or two at your beginning rate, decrease the rate by .20 (our swimmers will now be at 1.50). They're still getting a complete kick but don't need to hold the glide quite so long and things are starting to feel a bit more natural.
3. After a length or two, decrease the rate again by .20. Our swimmers are now at 1.30. They're still able to hold streamline for a bit, and are still in the range where things feel natural.
4. Now decrease the rate again by .20. At a rate of 1.10, our swimmers are getting a little bit out of their comfort zone, and they're definitely feeling a consistent rhythm with their kick. They're able to complete the entire kick, but there's no time to hold streamline.
5. As our swimmers push the rate down to .90, they have JUST enough time to finish the kick, and get the feet back up for the recovery. The feet seem to have lost some of their ability to connect with the water, but they are experiencing just how fast of a rhythm they can handle and STILL connect with the water.
6. At a rate of .70, our swimmers are pushing the envelope to the point where the kick breaks down a bit. At .70, we notice that the swimmers are now unable to draw their feet completely to their original starting point, so they've lost a bit of connection. We'd probably go back up to a happy medium of around 1:00 to 1:10 for a more continuous kicking set.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Pushing the limits of your rate means you'll need to find out what those limits are. This drill is one way to do that.
Going to the point of breakdown means you'll define how quickly you can really move your feet and still get some payoff. Also taking into consideration that at the highest rates, while you may lose some propulsive force, you've also reduced a bit of the resistance. Which to focus on first (propulsion or drag reduction), is the equation YOU'LL need to figure out for yourself. Either way, making your feet FAST is good for ALL breaststrokers.