TRAINING EMPHASIS ON KICKING DOES NOT IMPROVE FREE SWIMMING PERFORMANCE

Konstantaki, M., & Winter, E. M. (2007). The effectiveness of a leg-kicking training program on performance and physiological measure of competitive swimmers. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 2, 37-48.

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This study investigated the adaptations in leg muscle metabolism and swimming function after a six-week, increased-kicking training program. Male swimmers were divided into a control group (N = 7) that followed standard training which included 4% as kicking, and an experimental group (N = 8) that performed 20% of training as kicking. Both groups covered the same total training volume per week. Kicking training included no equipment and equipment (e.g., boards and fins). Physiological measures associated with kicking were obtained from a dry-land simulation of swimming and kicking.

After the six weeks, the kicking-emphasis group improved kicking performance (200-m kicking time trial) and kicking-associated physiological measures (oxygen uptake at 60 watts, exercise intensity at ventilatory threshold). There were no changes in 400-m freestyle swimming time or peak oxygen uptake. The control group did not change in any measure.

Implication. Emphasized kicking training does not transfer training benefits to free swimming. This finding supports the implications of the Principle of Specificity. It suggests that the skills involved in kicking-alone activities are discrete activities and bear no relationship to the kicking action that occurs when performing a full swimming action. [The current revival of interest in kicking while swimming, particularly the crawl stroke, is very likely to be another instance of swimming coaches following another blind-path that will not enhance competitive swimming performance.]

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