How To Stop Your Legs From Sinking – Root Cause 12

The  Ultimate Guide To Balance & Alignment In Freestyle Swimming

Fixing Your Sinking Leg Problems


Root Cause No 12: 

Bicycle Kick

To kick effectively your knees must bend. But, we’re not riding a bicycle, or even kicking a football. That would be too much knee bend. Bending that much would move your legs outside the profile of your upper body.

You want your legs to stay hidden behind the profile of your upper body. When you bicycle kick, each time your knee comes forward it will drop outside that profile. This drop increases you frontal resistance and can drop your hips down.

So to get it right,  how much knee bend are we looking for?

Well it’s kind of like Goldilocks search for the perfect porridge in the home of the Three Bears.

Too much knee bend is going to create extra resistance.

Too little knee bend doesn’t create enough force to provide stability or move you forward.

Somewhere in the middle is just right! You’re aiming for more straight than bent. So if you struggle with this, rather over correct with no knee bend.

Common Cause: 

The freestyle kick is a unique movement. There are practically no other ways in which we would replicate this movement in your daily life.

In contrast, think about the way you walk or run. That movement pattern has been  deeply ingrained into your legs and brain. It’s a deep habit.

Walking, running or riding a bicycle has created a habit that causes you to bend your knee more than you should. You have to learn a different movement pattern to kick correctly. You can’t borrow the walk/run/ride pattern.

How To Fix It 

There two points to think about when it comes to the knee bending:

{1}  The knee bend should lift your heel up towards the surface of the water. It should NOT pull your thigh in towards your stomach.

{2}  Your thighs should always remain hidden in the profile of your torso and upper body.


{1} Vertical Kick 

Vertical kicking is the best drill you can do to improve your kick. It forces you to keep your kick narrow and fast (otherwise you sink). It gives you instant feedback on where your kick is going wrong. And how powerful your kick is in one direction relative to another direction.

{2} Kicking On Your Back

Flip yourself over and kick on your back with your hands by your side. Make sure you that your toes stay up at the surface of the water. The toes on both feet should be breaking the surface  with every up kick.

Be sure you keep your knees under the water as you do this drill. You don’t want your knees to be breaking the surface. If the do, you  will be working against a lot more resistance when you flip back over onto your front.

{2} Balance Drill 

The balance drill is essentially a kicking drill in disguise. To get the balance drill right, you have to kick correctly. Bending your knees will throw off your balance and break your alignment.