Dolphin Kick

The most powerful weapon available to a competitive swimmer is the underwater dolphin kick (for those that are unfamiliar, the dolphin kick involves kicking with both legs together—preferably underwater).  When utilized correctly, it is the fastest way to swim.  As a result, it is imperative that any swimmer who will be doing butterfly, backstroke, and even freestyle (for some) learn how to properly do the dolphin kick.  Below, we list some of the key components involved in a dolphin kick that will help you kick some booty!
Streamline.  Refer to the Streamline Archive for more detail.  A great dolphin kick begins with a super-tight streamline.  This is because the dolphin kick generates speed by maximizing the propulsion/drag relationship.

The basics to a good streamline include; having the hands interlocked and arms/elbows locked in a straight position above, and slightly behind, the head.  The lat and chest muscles should be almost completely stretched and the gut pulled in tight.  The goal is to make the body as hydrodynamic as possible.  The other goal is to maintain this tight, streamlined position throughout the kicking motion--at least for the upper body.

The Up-kick.  For purposes of this explanation, the up-kick will refer to the kick forward (pretend the swimmer is on his or her back. The same rules apply when the swimmer is on the stomach).  The feet will go from behind the body to in front.  This part of the kick generates the majority of the propulsion.  Contrary to what most people think, the kick does not begin with the knees or even the hips--it starts with the head, or in some cases, the arms.  A lift in the arms and/or a rise backward of the head is usually the start of the kick.  From there, the arms and head drop forward.  The rest of the kick builds as the wave motion created at the start of the kick flows downward through the body.  It is like doing the breakdancing move called ‘the worm’!

The core of the body is where the majority of the propulsion is generated.  On the forward kick, the ab muscles will flex and contract, bringing the hips forward and, in turn, the legs.  As the upper legs come forward, the lower legs will go from being bent to being extended.

The Down-kick. As the legs are extending to finish off the up-kick, the upper body is already beginning the down-kick (or backward kick). In this part, the head and arms are retracting backward.  The back will subsequently flex and the abs will expand.  The gluts (a.k.a. butt), and hamstrings will tighten and bring the legs backward. It is important here for the legs to be fully extended and toes to remain pointed.  If the swimmer pays attention here, they should notice that the bottoms of the feet are actually creating a slight sculling motion or are pulling the water beneath them.  In order to make this part of the kick strong, the back, butt, and hamstrings will need to feel fully stretched out but also be flexing very hard.

The key to a good dolphin kick is a strong and flexible body core.  The worm-like motion takes some practice to get down the coordination and feel.  Also, exercising the body core will help to make the kick strong.  Just be sure to concentrate on both the up and down-kicks, since both generate a lot a force.

As is clear from the explanation above, it is difficult to describe this kick with words alone.  See the illustrations below for a better look at what the dolphin kick is all about.


Dolphin Kick  1.7 Kb