How to Improve Your Breaststroke Kick with 2-Time Olympian Mike Alexandrov

Michael Butler
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How to Improve Your Breaststroke Kick with Mike Alexandrov

Mike Alexandrov is a world class swimmer who trained with Olympic gold medalists and American record holders. In the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, he placed 5th in the 200 butterfly and 3rd in the 100 butterfly.

In 2008, he achieved 3rd place finish and National Age Group record of 1:01.23 in the 50-yard freestyle at the Long Course Nationals. He was also the 200 butterfly Olympic Trials qualifier in Tokyo.

In sum: endurance genetics.

Mike is an experienced swim coach with a great blog. He last posted a video about his favorite breaststroke kick drill to improve kick speed and efficiency.

Did you know that the most important factor behind the success of a breaststroke kick is the timing?

You can have all the strength in the world but if your kick is not timed with the rotation of the pull and the breath, then your technique will be worthless.

A common problem Mike sees with swimmers in the breaststroke is that they kick at the wrong time.

They kick into a hip that is closed (up or down) instead of open (forward).

First, try to isolate the rotation of the hips and the movement of the legs. Ask which direction the hip is moving. When it should be open, you’re in phase.

Straight-Legged Breaststroke Kick Drill

The straight-legged breaststroke kick can be a very effective kick for body rotation, but it's not an easy kick to master, as it requires very precise timing.

This drill involves making your kick even more effective by pairing it with the rotation of your body.

First, identify your height in the water. Then place two tennis balls at the bottom of the pool. The balls should be equidistant apart so that your feet land on both of them during your kick.

Next, repeat the following three exercises:

{1}. Place a kickboard or a pair of fins near the wall.
{2}. Hold onto the kickboard or fins.
{3}. Take a breath and jump into the water, landing on the balls.
{4}. Take both feet off the tennis balls with a flexed-knee position and place both feet back on the balls together.
{5}. Take the kickboard or fins back to the wall.

Practice this kick until you can repeat it smoothly without placing any extra emphasis on it. Once you develop a great kick using this drill, you'll have a powerful technique to rely on during more strenuous practices.

Speed Bump Breaststroke Kick

Most people will tell you that getting speed underwater is about using a flutter kick. However, the best breaststroke swimmers and breaststroke kickers are not fluttering around looking for speed. They are slicing through the water with little to no drag or turbulence caused by their kick.

It is also worth pointing out that the same breaststroke kickers who are riding the water with minimal drag are also often the ones that are winning breaststroke races at a great clip.

So how do these people swim in their breaststroke kick at such high speeds with such minimal drag?

The secret is in the little kicker. The kicker is the opposite of the speed bump. Instead of kicking vertically, use your legs to kick horizontally and press off the water in little bumps or starts that will move you right along.

Think of a speed bump as a little footstep. As you run along, you are not running fast enough to use a lot of energy to cover a great distance. Instead, you step around the speed bumps.

This is the same concept in a breaststroke kick. As you hit each speed bump, you don’t waste your energy by fluttering around. Instead, you use your momentum to ride the water until you hit the next speed bump.

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