How To Stop Your Legs From Sinking – Root Cause 11

The  Ultimate Guide To Balance & Alignment In Freestyle Swimming

Fixing Your Sinking Leg Problems


Root Cause No 11: 

Incorrect Kick Timing

Doc Counsilman is known as one of the greatest swimming coaches of all time. In the 1980’s he conducted studies on the freestyle kick and his findings were very interesting.

One of Coach Councilman’s observations centered on the timing of the kick. His study suggested that if your kick is not timed correctly you will actually swim slower. Even if you kick harder. A kick that isn’t timed right can slow you down as much as 6%, despite the energy spent on the movement.

The timing of your kick must coordinate with the cycle of your ams to give you balance and propulsion. When you time the kick correctly you counterbalance your stroke. This means your body stays in better alignment and your hips sit higher in the water.


What’s The Right Kick Timing?

To get the timing of your kick right, the kick down of each leg must coincide with the entry of the opposite arm. So as you right arm enters, your left leg must kick down and vice versa.

Why It Happens 

If your right leg kicks down at the same time as your right hand enters you lose stability. Both the right leg and right shoulder will drop at the same time. Resulting in that side of your body dropping deep into the water.

This becomes a particularly big problem if you swim with a 2 Beat kick. With a 2 beat kick you only kick down one time per hand entry. This single kick tends to be stronger and more powerful (because there is only one).  If you are powerfully kicking down with one kick on the same side as you’re entering the arm, you amplify the hip drop.

Timing the kick down of your right leg with the entry of your right arm  counterbalances your body. Neither side drops deep so your body floats up higher on the surface.


How To Fix It 

{1} Easy 6 Beat Kick

A light 6 beat kick will help maintain your stability most effectively. By keeping your kick small, quick and constant you won’t be over emphasizing either leg. So you run less of a risk of getting the timing wrong.

The goal is not to overkick or drive from the legs. Rather you’re looking to keep the kick small and light.

Taren from Triathlon Taren does a really nice job of explaining the danger of the 2 beat kick here:

{2} Timing Kick Drill

If you are going to stick with a 2 or 4 beat kick, the kick timing drill will help you find the right timing.

By putting only one fin on you will be far more aware of when you are kicking down with that leg. This gives improves the feedback to the brain reinforcing when you have the timing right.


{b} Breathe Like A Champ Drill 

Removing the stability of one arm will amplify the effect of the hip drip if you have the timing wrong. When you get it right, you will immediately know you’re in better balance.