Are You a Swimmer With a Runner's Kick?

Can you point your toes and straighten out your feet? When you kick on your back, do you tend to go very slow, stay in one place, or even go backwards?

Do you have a tough time with swimming drills because your kick is not propelling you forward fast enough? Do you wear fins in workouts just to keep up? Did you start out as a runner and pick up swimming later to become a triathlete?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you may have Runner's Kick. Have no fear, there are things you can do. Even the worst of kickers can develop a freestyle kick adequate enough to survive a triathlon swim.

4 Remedies for Runner's Kick

1. Vertical Kicking
This drill has been around for a long time. Find water that is deep enough for you to kick in place. Let go of the wall, cross your arms, and kick in place in a vertical position.

Maintain a straight line through your back, hips and legs, pointing your toes and keeping your chin above the surface of the water. Get your power from your quads and hips on this drill. Try 20 seconds at a time.

2. Use Fins
Yes! I am a coach telling you to use fins. But not to "keep up" in workouts. If you have ankle flexibility issues (Runner's Kick), use fins for a few weeks, but wean off them as you get closer to your event.

The shorter kind are best. I prefer Hydro Finz, but other brands may work okay as well. Fins can increase your ankle flexibility, allow you to do swimming drills with ease, and strengthen the correct leg muscles you need to kick.

3. Sit on Your Feet
For more severe cases of Runner's Kick, sitting on your feet can greatly improve your ankle flexibility. In yoga, just stay in "Child's Pose" a little longer and gain this extra benefit.

4. Just Stretch
In a seated position, take one leg and extend it out in front of you. Point your feet and push your toes toward the ground. Hold for about 15 to 20 seconds, and then repeat with the other foot. You can do this several times a day.


Whatever you do, don't be tempted to use a kickboard to improve your kick. For distance swimming and triathlons, you are wasting your time with flotation devices.

Remember, you don't need a super kick to have a great race in a triathlon. Your kick is mainly for stability and body rotation. Have patience, stick with these drills, and you will lose your Runner's Kick before you know it!

Kevin operates the website, a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. Kevin has also written an electronic book titled The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming which is sold on his website in downloadable form.

Related Articles:

Natalie Coughlin's Freestyle Kicking Tips

Kicking Drills for Better Body Position

Q & A With Natalie Coughlin: Kicking Tips and Using Fins

Discuss This Article