Kickoff a Safer Summer: The Importance of Kicking in Swimming

While we would never want to contradict Dory from Finding Nemo, at Watermelon Swim, we encourage our swimmers to “just keep kicking!” one of the most important aspects of her advice to “just keep swimming.”

In this blog, we’re focusing on all things kicking, including:

  • Why learning to kick is important in swimming
  • Three types of swim kicks
  • How we help our swimmers improve their kicking

Let’s make a splash and learn more!

Why learning to kick is important in swimming

Did you know the lower body is three times stronger than the upper body?

That’s why we teach kicks before arms at Watermelon Swim, especially to our younger swimmers in our Parent Tot 1 & 2 and Learn to Swim levels.

Focusing on kicking before arm movement helps swimmers develop balance and proper and consistent body positioning. While teaching arm movement first is tempting, introducing it too soon can affect overall coordination and positioning.

Introducing a gross motor skill, kicking, rather than a fine motor skill, arm movements, is easier for a young child to master since kicking is a more instinctive motion.

Gross motor skills use the large muscles in the body to master balance, coordination, and physical strength so that we can move further and faster.

Swimmers may struggle to keep their lower bodies afloat without a strong kicking base. When their legs and body sink, it’s hard for them to maintain proper body positioning.

Learning to kick first helps our swimmers build confidence and a solid foundation of balance and stability, which prepares them to grow their swim skills.

Three types of swim kicks

Swim kicks are essential movements that propel swimmers forward in the water.

When we practice kicking with our swimmers, we teach them how to hold their legs, turn their bodies, and propel movement from their hips to swim more smoothly.

There are three main types of swim kicks: flutter kick, dolphin kick, and breaststroke kick.

Each has its unique style and purpose.

Let’s dive into the details!

Flutter Kick

The flutter kick earned its name because of the gentle fluttering and alternating motion. With this technique, a swimmer’s legs stay mostly straight as the kicks come from the hips.

The flutter kick is foundational in swimming, and it’s the only kick we teach in our Learn to Swim program.

The flutter kick is used with backstroke and freestyle.

Dolphin Kick

The dolphin kick in swimming involves moving both legs together in a slightly bent position like a dolphin moves its tail up and down as it glides through the water.

This kick is typically used during butterfly and underwater swimming.

Breaststroke kick

This style is like the kick of a frog, where both legs move together in a circular motion. A swimmer starts with their legs tucked in and then kicks them out and back again in a snapping motion. At Watermelon Swim, we implement the breaststroke kick as early as Level 4.

In level 4, we teach our swimmers chicken airplane soldier, which is breaststroke on the back. This is an important safety skill that is in a level 4 and a level 5!

This kick is used with the breaststroke.

Keep practicing at home! Encourage your kids to practice their kicks in the bathtub or pool with your supervision.

cognitive development

At Watermelon Swim, we’re committed to creating extraordinary results for our swimmers to increase their confidence in and around water.

We use several tools to teach our swimmers proper kicking technique, including:

Turtles (Kickboards) — Swimmers hold onto these flotation devices while kicking. By holding the turtle and kicking behind it, swimmers strengthen their kicks and improve their body positioning in the water.

Barbells — A barbell is a tool swimmers hold onto that keeps their body in the correct position, increases flexibility, and strengthens their leg muscles.

Flippers — These are worn on swimmers’ feet, helping them swim further while improving their form and increasing confidence.

Keep Swimming, Keep Growing

Ready to kick off a safer summer? Enroll now at Watermelon Swim and jump into a year-round journey of water safety and endless aquatic fun!

Find a Watermelon Swim location near you to get started.