Teaching Freestyle (Flutter) Kick by John Leonard

Improving Your Learn to Swim Program

Teaching Freestyle (Flutter) Kick

By John Leonard

        Fundamental to learning to swim, right behind the concepts of air exchange and learning buoyancy, the flutter kick is easy to teach, but not so easy to teach correctly.

        The essence of this short lesson is this: each leg must EXTEND fully, with the back of the knee joint flat out to 180 degrees or beyond (hyper-extended knee joint) and then kick back “upwards” to be effective.

        While this may seem obvious, I am constantly amazed at the number of learn to swim students that I see who appear to be kicking correctly, but in reality, are not moving forward at a rate commensurate with the effort they are making.

        On close inspection, they are kicking “from the knee” and not extending fully downward and kicking through the toes.

      Key Points to remember:

     Toes pointed, but not “rigid”.

      Kick down till the knee is straight.

      Kick back “upward”.

      Initiate all kicks from the buttocks, not the knees.

      A fast, steady kick “within the shadow of the body” is best.


Techniques that create problems:

#1. Overuse of “kicking on the wall”. Teachers will use holding onto the wall as a means of teaching kicking. When you do this, the child quickly learns they cannot “move the wall”, so they “adapt” to give the instructor what they want…by bending their knees and never finishing the kick….It looks good, but it does not teach them to move forward with the kick.

#2. Kicking “only on the stomach” with a kickboard will encourage the same “non-finish” of the kick. Kick on the back, on the sides, and on the front. When possible, limit the use of kickboard until the kicking technique is correct…once it is correct, resume kickboard use, and build leg strength and endurance. And once again, WATCH for resumption of incorrect technique when they are tired. Practice makes habit. Only correct practice makes perfect.