How to Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kicking


When watching backstrokers compete in the Olympics, you might have wondered how they get to perfect their underwater dolphin kicks. It’s almost as if their knees and hips are extremely flexible that it may be perceived inhuman. That’s why when you try mimicking these underwater dolphin kicks, everything would seem impossible. Don’t fret now, as we’re here to tell you otherwise.

In case you’re having trouble mastering these underwater dolphin kicks, you totally shouldn’t feel discouraged. This is also probably the reason why it’s considered the ‘fifth stroke’ – because it’s a bit challenging to excel at. Mastering your dolphin kicks might help you dramatically improve your overall time and efficiency. And that’s what we’re aiming to do in this post. Keep on reading this post if you want to know more about the topic.

Why Do the Underwater Dolphin Kicks?

Before we proceed with the discussions, you first need to be oriented about why underwater dolphin kicks are important when competing. In case you’re not familiar, consider the fastest part in any race is when you’re pushing off the wall. Once you are past this part, all that you need to do now is to kick to be able to maintain your speed.

What you can do to speed up is to do the underwater dolphin kicks rather than flutter kicks, which is only good if you’re trying to maintain your speed. In fact, flutter kicks don’t increase your speed once you’ve pushed off the wall. With this, you might just realize that dolphin kicks, in general, are a lot more powerful when used in swimming competitions.

How to Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kicking

Eager to improve your underwater dolphin kicks in no time? All that you need to do is a constant practice. Also, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

1. Use your whole body

When you think of underwater dolphin kicks, you might easily assume that it would only involve your legs. However, you should be aware that you need to engage your whole body when doing the underwater dolphin kick.

2. Remember to keep your core as tight as possible

When you practice the dolphin kicks, always keep your core tight. Doing so allows you to hold your shoulders still as you propel yourself using your body’s bottom half. Also, keep your arms perfectly still. When you push off the wall, slightly tighten your stomach while straightening your back and focusing on getting low amplitude kick.

If you have a relatively large amplitude kick, you’ll only be increasing the distance of the swim. Come to think of it, swimming in such a wavy line would seem like a longer distance compared to swimming in a straight line. When you tighten your core, it’s assumed that your body will move forward, instead of up and down.

3. Try practicing on your back

Practicing the underwater dolphin kicks has been proven to be a lot easier when you’re on your back. This is especially true, in case you’re having trouble with the proper learning technique. What you can do too is to keep your core tight when trying to maintain your body’s movement, as discussed in the earlier section.

4. Feel the ripple

A lot of times, swimmers kick rigidly when doing their underwater dolphin kicks. Rather than doing the jerky movement and pausing toward the end of the kick, you may try keeping your feet moving. When you finish the downward movement, begin on moving them upward. Keep in mind that these kicks must be fluid – you should feel the flow coming from your hips up to your toes.

5. Speed up

Most swimmers have a slow and, at the same time, large dolphin kicks once they push off the wall. However, you should be informed that these underwater dolphin kicks should be a lot quicker. With this, you need to control your kick’s amplitude so that you can speed up. If you would notice, Olympians kick fast, which is why their feet almost seems like a blur. When you watch it in slow motion, you’ll realize that they’re very fluid with the kicks.

6. Get the right kick size

Most of the time, you would find yourself having trouble determining the accurate amplitude for your underwater dolphin kick. When we mentioned that you need a relatively low amplitude kick, you might wonder what that exactly means. As every swimmer is built a little bit differently, their kicks would obviously be different, as well.

If the amplitude kick is too big, you are likely to feel the most powerful. However, you are also likely to create excessive resistance when you kick this way. Additionally, you’ll just be exerting way too much effort without advancing more swiftly. Ultimately, you’ll just be wasting your effort and time without your expected payoff.

On the other hand, if the amplitude kick is too small, you’ll feel as if you’re fast. However, there wouldn’t be enough power to propel yourself. Too small-amplitude kicks wouldn’t be as powerful as you expect it to be, even though you feel that you’re moving a lot quicker.

To be able to perform a proficient amplitude kick, you must be able to find a balance between these two, as well as incorporate both speed and power at the same time. With this, you might want to play around to try several techniques or a combination of them.

You may want to start with a large kick. Then, time yourself and see how long it would take you to reach the break out point. Ensure that you’ll be breaking out at the same place every time. Doing so allows you to keep track of the time as accurately as possible. After, kick small and then time yourself. When you’ve done this a few more times, that’s the time when you’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments.

7. Practice

Now that we have discussed all the steps on how to improve your underwater dolphin kicks, it’s now your turn to try them all out. You may also want to practice using several different amplitude kicks and see for yourself which one feels best. With constant practice and adjustments, you’ll soon find yourself kicking better.


Now that we’ve reached the end of the discussion, we trust that you’ll now be able to try these steps to improve your underwater dolphin kicks. With practice, we know that an improved underwater dolphin kick is certainly achievable. And in case you have doubts, you may simply refer to this guide for reference.

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