Underwater Dolphin kick commonly know as the “fifth stroke” is not a memory to forget in a hurry when you see one. If you’ve watched backstrokers live or on TV compete before, you would know exactly what what I mean.
The first time I watched an Olympic swim game on TV, I guess that was two years ago. I was so blown away by the strong and powerful underwater Dolphin Kick of the competitors.
The way they do it, it’s like they were born with it, their body, hips, knees and arms as flexible as a rubber band. At some point I saw it as something not possible and unbelievable and totally inhuman as afterwards I tried to mimic the moves/kicks in our home pool but ended up withdrawing as I found it very challenging and impossible.
A majority of people generally have trouble mastering these kicks, I did too but you don’t have to worry too much or feel discouraged as it is attainable. I guess one of the major reasons why they called them the “fifth strokes” is because they are very challenging and difficult. As discouraging as that sounds, but we have to be realistic still. They are also very important and necessary as it will naturally improve your whole swimming ability and speed.
Do you want to develop or improve your Underwater Dolphin Kicks? I guess “Yes”. Put together are 6 steps in this article that will help you attain that. this article is just all you need.
Someone hearing about Dolphin Kicks for the first time will probably think of the normal way of kicking, that is with the legs. Well, with underwater Dolphin kick, your whole body comes to play and not just your legs. Dolphin kicks unlike the other kicks (flutter kicks…) are very powerful and much more preferable than the other kicks as it increase your underwater speed as well as your body flexibility.
Practice On Dry Land
Before you get into the pool, it is advisable to first of all have some practice on dry land or outside the pool. Exercise your core, breathe arms and most especially, focus on getting your ankles more flexible than the way the already are.
To be able to be good on Dolphin kick, you have to master how to position your core
Vertical Ankle and Forearm Kick
With a Dolphin kick, aim to have a vertical ankle. Yeah the Dolphin kick goes by kicking backwards and not kicking up and down. That is, you want to be pushing the water backwards or behind you rather than the normal kick which is up and down.
In the same light, you should also strive for an early vertical forearm along side your kick. Now, you won’t be able to do this if you have a stiff and or little or no ankle flexibility.
Be sure that a more flexible ankle will do you well by pulling more and catching you more water. Plus your feet are actually what really moves you in water. So you want to care more about flexible ankles.
Use Your Core and Hips
Most swimmers always fall into the trap of kicking using the knees instead of using the hips with the strong support/aid of the core (I called it the engine). Using the knees to kick is not only inefficient, but it is also stressful as it requires a lot of energy to to pull water forward so you can slip ahead. Keeping your core tight and you
shoulders still, will make it easier for you hips to follow and then your feet and then just the natural kick you want.
Start Your kick In front Of You
So many swimmers do struggle with which direction to kick. It is best practice to kick in front of you whether you are doing the backstroke or the normal stroke.
If you are on the backstroke, your knees should be bent and your toes facing upward to ease the kick.
In the same light for the normal stroke, bend your knees and your toes facing down to make kick well, naturally and less stressful.
Take the correct size kick
In as much as it is almost impossible or difficult to measure and maintain the right amplitude of the kick perhaps due to the different personalities and but you have to feel your kick.
A too big kick feels powerful and exciting but initially, you are creating a lot of resistance, plus exerting to much efforts and moving slower (not faster like you expected).
Again, if your kick is too small, of course you will feel fast, but you won’t be pushing enough water to efficiently propel yourself. In as much as it makes you feel good and move a little more quickly, the kick is still not a powerful one.
Now, for you to be able to have a powerful kick, you will need to play around the kicks, feel it out and find yourself in between the two. Plus you will need to find a way to maintain both power and speed.
Keep trying and practicing until you get the right kick.
Watch out for speed and no breaks
One of the things that really counts or will really make you proficient in Dolphin kicking is if you do it quickly (Speed). This is where flexibility of your ankles and toes comes into play. Your ankles and toes have to be able to snap up and down in water as quickly as possible in such a way if one can hardly notice the moves.
The size of your Dolphin kicks will also determine your speed. Control the amplitude of your kicks, in that way you can easily speed it up. If you watch Olympians, you will notice they snap their feet so fast that it almost look like a bubbly blur and until you watch it in slow motion, only then will you notice the the amplitude of their kicks.
Practice they say makes perfect. You can never be really good at something if you don’t do it often or only do it when you feel like doing it. Dolphin kicks are really had to get a hold of them and requires a lot of training, time and energy to be a master of it. So you want to make sure you sacrifice a lot of time and efforts if you really want to be good at Underwater Dolphin kicks.