When you’re teaching your kids to kick, you can take advantage of time outside the swimming pool to work on this skill.
How to Teach Your Kids to Kick without a Swimming Pool
Have your child sit in a chair and follow these steps to teach him the important points of the swimming kick.
- Demonstrate what it means to flex and to point, and have him practice it without any kicking motion.
- Have him hold still while you move his feet for him from flexed to pointed and back again, so that he really feels the ankle and can isolate that feeling.
- Have your child sit on the edge of the chair and brace himself with his hands. Ask him to lean his torso back slightly for balance and kick from the hip, keeping his legs straight, his ankles loose, and the kick small and narrow.
Use this opportunity to touch his upper thigh to show him where the work is being done. He won’t get a great sense from this exercise for how important the ankles are, because air resistance is so much less than water resistance, but he will get a good feel for keeping his legs straight and for the range of motion from the hip.
In most strokes, kicking provides stability for your body while the arms provide most of the propulsion. The kick helps your body to stay aligned. In the early learning stages, having a solid flutter kick will help stabilize your child as he learns to position his body in the water and to use his arms to propel himself. Here are six important aspects of the kick to focus on.
The key to the kick is coordination and ankle flexibility.
Six Aspects of the Kick to Focus On
- There should be a lot of movement in the ankle, but from the hip to the ankle should be supple but almost straight. The knees should bend very little. It’s not like pedaling a bike. Think length and flow.
- Use the muscles at the top of the thigh to move the whole leg.
- The leg shouldn’t have side-to-side movement.
- The kick should be narrow, with ankles fairly close to each other.
- The kick isn’t long like a stride on land is. The up-down movement should be contained within the movement of the water that your arms creates. You can feel this area when you move your body. When you get to the part of the water that hasn’t been moved by your body, your leg will feel more resistance. Keep your kick out of that higher-resistance water.
- Ankle flexibility is really important. While your whole leg moves, the foot is like a flipper that provides most of the benefit of the movement. It should feel like you’re trying to flick a shoe off your foot.
Kids learn by playing. The more you can make learning to swim fun for your kids, the more they’ll like it, the quicker they’ll learn, and the more fun you’ll have teaching them. Kicking is a critical swimming skill. Although it doesn’t provide much power, it’s important for stability. When you’re teaching your kids to kick, you can get a leg up by playing this game on land.
Have your child sit in a chair and hold onto the edge with his hands. Have him extend his legs and see how fast he can kick. How slow. How straight he can keep his legs. Are his ankles flexible? Is he flipping his feet like he’s trying to flick his shoes off?
Now try it in the water.
Kids learn by playing. The more you can make learning to swim fun for your kids, the more they’ll like it, the quicker they’ll learn, and the more fun you’ll have teaching them. One of the skills that will help your kids learn to be stable in the water is kicking. One beautiful thing about kicking is that you can laugh while you practice, and when you play this game, you and your kids will do lots of laughing.
Have your kids kick while you tow them. Let them determine how fast you go based on how fast they kick. Can they kick so fast that you get out of breath? So fast that you can’t keep up? Can they keep a straight face while you’re huffing and puffing? Can you?
Tow them in swerving, curving paths from one side of the pool to the other. Tow them in a fast, straight line.
Finish by hopping out of the pool and flopping down on the grass on your backs and watching the clouds go by. You’ll all need the rest. Learning to kick is tiring, and so is all that towing.