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Why the Frog Kick Is Better Than the Flutter Kick

My first dive was in a murky lagoon in Key Largo, Florida. I bumbled along with a herd of excited new divers, stirring up the soft, oozing muck at the bottom of the lagoon. Diving was fantastic, but I didn't see much. For most of the dive, I was enveloped the brown cloud of bottom sediment that the divers had stirred up. Our finning technique, the flutter kick, was quickly reducing the visibility in the lagoon.

The flutter kick is an inefficient kick. It propels water above and below the diver, which does not contribute to forward motion and wastes energy. The downwards propulsion of water also disturbs sand and other bottom sediment, leading to a reduction in visibility. The frog kick is a much more effective kick, and is easy to learn with proper instruction. Click through this tutorial to learn the basics of the frog kick.

 

Why Frog Kick?

There are many benefits to frog kicking. Some include:

• More forward thrust with less effort because the kick propels water only directly behind the diver -- not above or behind him.

• More balanced and more comfortable swimming because the frog kick does not rock the diver from side to side.

• When performed correctly, the frog kick places less stress on a diver's legs, knees and ankles than other kicks.

• Water is not propelled downwards, and bottom sediment is not stirred up. This is great for all dives, and essential at dive sites with silty floors such as wreck and cavern dive sites.

The first step of the frog kick is to assume the starting position as shown above. The diver should be relatively flat in the water, with his knees bent upwards at a 90° angle. His fins should be parallel to the floor. His knees and ankles are together.

To maintain this position, known as proper trim, a diver may find it helpful to look ahead, arch his back slightly, thrust his hips forward, and extend his arms in front of his body.

Once a diver is in the starting position, the next step is to open his fins to the sides. This motion is mainly in the diver's ankles. The diver simply uses his ankles to rotate the fins blades outwards while maintaining his fins parallel to the floor. When performed properly, the thin edges of the fins slice through the water without appreciable resistance.

This is perfectly fine -- the frog kick should not feel stiff or uncomfortable. However, a diver should avoid spreading his legs and opening his knees very widely, as this does not contribute to the kick and wastes energy. It also brings the fins further out to the sides of the diver's body and may lead to accidental contact with reef or other structures.

The third step of the frog kick provides the forward motion of the kick. The diver pushes with the balls of his feet bringing the fins and the bottoms of his feet together behind him. The diver's ankles will rotate and his knees will extend slightly, bringing his fins ever-so-slightly down. When performed correctly, the diver's feet will move from the "flexed" position shown in step 2 to a "pointed toes" position with the soles of the feet angled slightly in to face each other.

The diver should focus on pushing the water behind him using the power of his legs and ankles.

The trick to the thrust step is make a slow, powerful motion. Quick and jerky kicks provide very little power, stress the legs, and are uncomfortable. The diver should relax and refrain from stiffening his legs and ankles. Feel the fins flexing as a natural extension of the kicking motion.

Finally, it is essential that the diver maintain the position of his body's core. His back should be arched, his hips thrust forward, and his arms extended. He should be looking forward. A diver who notices he is bending at the waist or dropping his knees with each kick must focus on isolating the kicking motion by maintaining a stronger torso and upper body position.

The best part of the frog kick is the fourth step -- the glide. After the thrusting step, a diver's legs are partially extended and his knees are slightly straightened. His feet and fins are together and he is in the perfect, streamlined position to slide through the water. He must hold this position for a few moments to allow the propulsion of the kick to move him through the water. This is a relaxing step and the pure forward movement feels great!

A diver who immediately jerks his feet to the starting position after step 3 and attempts a subsequent kick breaks the forward gliding motion with his movement, and may even slow or stop himself prematurely. Allow the kick a few seconds to work its magic, and then slowly bring the heels upwards and flex the ankles to get back to the starting position.

Now you know the basics of the frog kick. Once you master the four steps, relax and move through each step fluidly and slowly. It may take a little practice to master, but learning this kick is worth the effort. You will be more relaxed and controlled underwater. Once you master the frog kick, I guarantee you will never want to flutter kick again!

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