By Nenad Rodic
posted 04/05

There are two components to the flutter kick: downbeat and upbeat. Down beat is responsible for the propulsion.


The downbeat begins with the flexion of the hip before the upbeat is finished. At this point the quadriceps are still relaxed, which causes a slight bend in the knee. At the moment your knee is slightly below your hip, your foot will come to the surface and the quick aggressive flex of the thigh occurs resulting in propulsion form the whole lower leg, foot, and toes. Water pressure will bend your ankle and toes depending on their flexibility*.
*”Point your toes”. No, don’t; this is another misconception. There is nothing you need to do with your lower leg during freestyle kick. The water will do everything for you. If you’re getting cramps in your feet and calves it means that you are using your lower leg. We all kick faster with fins, not because of the size of the fins or our having the power of a dolphin to move them through water, but because of the flexibility that fins add to our kick. If you look at fins closely, you'll noticke how they get more flexible at the distal part and more rigid at the proximal part. Your feet should be like ths; flexible ankles, and even more flexible toes.


The upbeat starts with a rebound effect at the bottom of the downbeat. The leg is relaxed, while it sweeps upward, somewhat laterally, opposite the direction the body is rotating*.
*If you are getting cramps or fatigue in your lower leg and hamstrings, you’re doing it improperly. Your leg will come up naturally, pushed up by water.


The kick should be neither deep (too much drag from the knees), nor too shallow (no propulsion or stabilization). Lateral kick is used to help the roll and stabilize the body, but it should stay within the confines of the shoulder-line. This is the primary function of the kick. Practice rolling with the use of your legs only while a friend pulls you with a stretch cord; this will give you an idea about how important kicking is. Don’t rely on propulsion benefits of kicking. Oxygen consumption is four times higher when kicking than when pulling at the same speed.

SUMMARY: The kick is very important. Triathlon is primarily the sport of legs; the legs are well conditioned and ready to do the work in the water. All you need to do is learn how to kick properly. You can begin by increasing your ankle flexibility (refer to our stretching section) and kicking more in practice. THROW AWAY YOUR FINS (they are a sprinter’s tool).

By Nenad Rodic, founder of triathlonPlace.com