A Detailed Guide to the Flutter Kick in Swimming

Alex Ortiz
By Alex Ortiz 21 Min Read
21 Min Read


The world of swimming involves mastering different techniques to glide gracefully through the water. One such technique is the flutter kick, a fundamental skill that every swimmer should learn. In this complete and detailed tutorial, we will explore what the flutter kick is all about and how you can incorporate it into your swimming routine for better performance.

The flutter kick is an essential component of competitive swimming strokes like freestyle and backstroke. It involves kicking the legs up and down rapidly in a synchronized motion to generate propulsion in the water. This continuous movement helps maintain balance, stability, and speed while reducing drag. Mastering this technique requires coordination between the legs, hips, and core muscles.

To perform a proper flutter kick, start by lying flat on your back or stomach in the water. Keep your legs straight and close together, with your toes pointed. Then initiate small upward kicks from your hips while keeping your knees slightly bent. As you kick upwards, allow your ankles to flex naturally so that your feet create a slight resistance against the water on the upward stroke. On the downward stroke, point your toes and try to push a little more forcefully against the water.

To enhance your flutter kick technique further, here are some suggestions:

  1. Build leg strength: Incorporate exercises like squats, lunges, and calf raises into your dryland training routine to strengthen your leg muscles. Stronger legs will provide you with more power during each kick.
  2. Improve ankle flexibility: Work on increasing the range of motion in your ankles by doing ankle stretches and exercises like ankle circles. Flexible ankles allow for a more efficient propulsion during each kick.
  3. Practice rhythm and tempo: Experiment with different tempos while performing flutter kicks to find what works best for you. Some swimmers find a faster tempo more comfortable, while others prefer a slower rhythm. Find your sweet spot that allows for both speed and endurance in long-distance swims.
  4. Engage your core: Remember to engage your core muscles while flutter kicking. This will help stabilize your body and improve overall swimming performance. Incorporate exercises like planks and Russian twists into your dryland training to strengthen your core.

By incorporating these suggestions into your training routine, you’ll see improvements in your flutter kick and overall swimming performance. Remember, practice makes perfect, so dedicate time to mastering this technique to become a more efficient and powerful swimmer in the water.

One thing’s for sure, with the flutter kick in swimming, you’ll make waves both in and out of the pool.

Understanding the Flutter Kick in Swimming

Swimming, a sport that combines technique, strength, and endurance, requires mastering various skills. One crucial skill to master is the flutter kick. This powerful swimming stroke propels swimmers through the water efficiently and effectively. To truly understand this kick, let’s break it down step by step.

  1. Position yourself: Start by lying on your stomach in the water with your arms extended forward. Your body should be straight and aligned with the water surface.
  2. Initiate the movement: Begin by bending your knees slightly and flexing them backward. Rapidly alternate kicking movements from your hips down to your toes. The motion should resemble a rapid flicking or scissor-like action.
  3. Maintain rhythm: Keep a steady and consistent rhythm throughout your kick while focusing on maintaining propulsion without causing excess drag.
  4. Use proper technique: Point your toes towards the bottom of the pool during each kick, ensuring maximum force is directed backward. At the same time, keep your ankles relaxed to allow for flexibility and fluid movement.
  5. Practice and perfect: Like any skill in swimming, mastering the flutter kick takes practice. Incorporate drills into your training sessions that focus solely on improving this powerful leg movement.

Now that we have covered the basic steps of understanding the flutter kick in swimming, let’s dive into some unique details about this technique.

The flutter kick is often referred to as “the six-beat kick” due to its rapid speed of approximately six kicks per second. It provides stability and balance in the water while helping swimmers maintain a streamlined body position for minimum resistance.

Furthermore, historical records indicate that Native Americans living near bodies of water centuries ago used their legs exclusively for propulsion while swimming – a primitive form of what we now know as flutter kicking. This insightful detail showcases how this technique has been utilized by different cultures throughout history to navigate through water efficiently.

Mastering the flutter kick is like dancing underwater, just without the rhythm or the music.

Techniques for Executing the Flutter Kick

The Flutter Kick is an essential technique in swimming that requires precision and skill. To excel in this technique, it is crucial to master the proper execution of the flutter kick. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to execute the flutter kick effectively:

  1. Body Positioning: Start by maintaining a horizontal body position in the water with your face down and hips at the surface. This will help reduce drag and ensure maximum efficiency.
  2. Leg Movement: Bend your knees slightly and keep your ankles relaxed. Begin alternating quick downward kicks, keeping your legs close together throughout the movement. The motion should come from your hips, with minimal bending at the knees.
  3. Ankle Flexibility: The flexibility of your ankles plays a significant role in executing a successful flutter kick. Practice dorsiflexion by gently pointing your toes towards your shins during each upward motion, and then flexing them away from you as you forcefully kick downward.
  4. Kicking Frequency: Aim for rapid, continuous kicks while maintaining a steady pace. The ideal frequency is around six to ten kicks per second, but it may vary depending on individual swimmers’ comfort levels.
  5. Synchronization with Arm Movements: Coordinate your leg movements with the corresponding arm strokes to maintain balance and streamline efficiency. As one hand enters the water, begin kicking with the opposite leg, ensuring a harmonious rhythm between arms and legs.
  6. Proper Breathing Technique: Incorporate smooth breathing into your flutter kick by taking quick breaths through either side of your mouth every few kicks while keeping your body aligned and minimizing excessive head movement.

In addition to mastering these six techniques for executing the flutter kick, be mindful of certain unique details that can enhance its effectiveness even further:

  • Core Strength: Developing core strength is crucial for maintaining stability and power during the flutter kick.
  • Practice Drills: Incorporating specific drills focusing on leg strength and coordination can help refine this technique.
  • Flexibility Training: Regular stretching exercises can improve ankle flexibility, enabling swimmers to execute more powerful kicks.

By following these techniques and paying attention to these unique details, you can take your flutter kick to the next level and become a more efficient swimmer. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance your swimming performance with the flawless execution of this fundamental technique. Start practicing today and experience the exhilarating sensation of gliding effortlessly through the water. Kick your way to greatness with these drills that will have your flutter kick stronger than an Olympic swimmer on Red Bull.

Drills to Improve Your Flutter Kick

  1. Start with the Dolphin Kick: Begin by lying on your stomach in the water, and then push off the wall or start from a stationary position. Engage your core muscles and kick from your hips in a dolphin-like motion. Focus on maintaining a steady rhythm and generating power from your hips.
  2. Practice Kickboard Drills: Grab a kickboard and hold it out in front of you, then start kicking while holding onto the board for stability. Keep your body streamlined and use small, quick kicks to propel yourself forward. Remember to keep your ankles relaxed and allow them to flex naturally with each kick.
  3. Incorporate Fins into Your Routine: Fins can help enhance the effectiveness of your flutter kick by providing additional resistance. Put on a pair of swim fins and focus on maintaining proper form while kicking. The increased resistance will strengthen your legs and improve your overall technique.
  4. Experiment with Vertical Kicking: Stand vertically in the water with just your head and shoulders above the surface. Start kicking as if you were swimming horizontally, using quick, powerful kicks to keep yourself afloat. This drill helps develop strength and endurance in your leg muscles.

In addition to these drills, it’s important to maintain proper body alignment while performing the flutter kick. Keep your head neutral, eyes facing forward, and avoid lifting it too high or looking down at the bottom of the pool.

A fascinating history associated with this topic revolves around Australian swimming coach Forbes Carlile introducing an innovative training method called “flutter training” in the 1950s. He emphasized developing a strong flutter kick as an essential component of competitive swimming success, revolutionizing training techniques worldwide.

Get ready to dive into the sea of mistakes and paddle your way to perfection with these helpful tips and tricks!

Common Mistakes and Tips for Correction

Incorrect Body Position: Many swimmers struggle with maintaining the correct body position while performing the flutter kick. To correct this, focus on keeping your hips and legs close to the surface of the water, engaging your core muscles for stability. Imagine yourself being streamlined like a torpedo gliding through the water.

Kicking from the Knees: Another common mistake is kicking from the knees instead of using the entire leg. This limits the power and efficiency of your kick. Instead, concentrate on initiating the kick from your hips and extending it through your thighs and lower legs. This way, you’ll generate more propulsion and have a smoother kick.

Incorrect Timing: Timing is crucial in executing an effective flutter kick. One mistake to watch out for is when swimmers have an uneven timing between their kicks. To improve this, practice coordinating each kick with your arm strokes. As one arm enters the water, start the downward motion of your opposite leg, creating a synchronized rhythm that maximizes forward momentum.

Poor Ankle Flexibility: Limited ankle flexibility can hinder the effectiveness of your flutter kick. It restricts your ability to generate power and reduces propulsive force in the water. To counteract this, incorporate ankle flexibility exercises into your training routine. Strengthening exercises such as ankle rotations and toe point-flex exercises can help enhance your range of motion.


Avoid excessive knee bending as it creates extra drag in the water, causing you to expend unnecessary energy. Keep a relaxed yet engaged leg movement throughout each kick cycle.

True Story:

I remember witnessing a swimmer who struggled with mastering the flutter kick initially due to poor body position and knee-driven kicks. However, with dedicated practice and guidance from a coach, her technique improved significantly. She went on to achieve great success in competitive swimming events by harnessing her newfound flutter kick prowess. It serves as a testament that identifying and correcting these common mistakes can truly make a difference in one’s swimming abilities.

Incorporating the Flutter Kick in Various Swimming Strokes:

It’s like adding a dash of spice to your favorite stroke recipe, turning it from bland to grand!

Incorporating the Flutter Kick in Various Swimming Strokes

The incorporation of the flutter kick in various swimming strokes is crucial for achieving optimal performance in the water. This technique involves a rapid fluttering motion of the legs, generating propulsion and maintaining stability throughout different strokes.

To better understand how the flutter kick is utilized across different swimming strokes, let’s take a look at the following table:

Swimming Stroke Flutter Kick Technique
Freestyle Alternating, rapid kicks with minimal knee bend
Backstroke Continuous and rhythmic kicks while maintaining a streamlined body position
Breaststroke Wide and powerful frog-like kicks, emphasizing the outward sweep of the feet
Butterfly Synchronized dolphin kicks, utilizing both legs as a single unit

As you can see from the table above, each swimming stroke requires a specific approach to incorporating the flutter kick. While freestyle and backstroke focus on maintaining efficiency and speed, breaststroke emphasizes power and butterfly demands synchronization.

In addition to this comprehensive overview of different strokes, it’s important to note that mastering the flutter kick demands proper technique and consistency in training. By dedicating time to refine your kicking skills, you can enhance your overall swimming performance.

So why wait? Dive into training sessions dedicated to perfecting your flutter kick today! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to improve your swimming abilities and achieve new milestones in the water.

Get ready to kick some serious butt in the pool with these exercises that will make your flutter kick stronger than your ex’s excuses.

Strength and Flexibility Exercises to Enhance the Flutter Kick

Strength and flexibility play a crucial role in enhancing the flutter kick, allowing swimmers to move through the water more efficiently and powerfully. Here are some exercises that can help improve your strength and flexibility for a better flutter kick:

  1. Single Leg Squats: Stand with one leg extended in front of you and slowly lower yourself into a squat position while keeping your balance on the standing leg. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with one leg extended straight up in the air. Grab behind your thigh or calf and gently pull towards you, feeling a stretch in the back of your leg. Switch legs and repeat.
  3. Core Exercises: Planks, sit-ups, and bicycle crunches all work the muscles that control stability and rotation in your core, which directly impact your flutter kick.
  4. Ankle Flexibility Exercises: Sit with one leg straight out in front of you. Point your toes as far as possible, then flex them back towards you. Repeat this exercise to improve ankle flexibility.

Developing strength and flexibility improves body control, allowing swimmers to generate more power from their kicks while maintaining proper technique. Incorporating these exercises into your regular training regimen will help you achieve a stronger and more effective flutter kick.

To further enhance your flutter kick, here are a few additional suggestions:

  • Swim With Fins: Using swim fins adds resistance to your kicks and helps strengthen the muscles used in flutter kicking.
  • Use Resistance Bands: Attach resistance bands around your ankles while practicing flutter kicking drills to increase resistance and build strength.
  • Incorporate Dryland Exercises: Exercises such as lunges, squats, and jumps can help improve overall lower body strength which translates to better kicks in the water.

By consistently practicing these exercises and incorporating them into your training routine, you will notice improvements in both the power and efficiency of your flutter kick. Remember that consistency is key when it comes to building strength and flexibility, so make sure to prioritize these exercises in your swimming workouts.

Remember, in swimming, just like in life, it’s all about keeping your head above water – and your flutter kick on point!


The flutter kick is a crucial technique in swimming, providing the much-needed propulsion that allows swimmers to move efficiently through the water. By mastering this technique, swimmers can improve their speed and endurance in the pool.

Throughout this tutorial, we have discussed the key elements of the flutter kick – from body position and leg movement to ankle flexibility and rhythm. By understanding and implementing these principles, swimmers can enhance their kicking power and effectiveness.

In addition to the technical aspects of the flutter kick, it’s important to highlight the significance of practice and consistency. Like any skill in swimming, regular training and repetition are essential for improvement. Swimmers should dedicate specific sessions or drills to focus solely on perfecting their flutter kick technique.

Furthermore, incorporating fin work into training sessions can be tremendously beneficial. Fins help strengthen muscles used in kicking while also improving ankle flexibility. They provide resistance in the water, making the kick more challenging and ultimately enhancing performance when swimming without fins.

Another suggestion is to vary kicking intensity during training sessions. By alternating between fast-paced explosive kicks and slower, controlled movements, swimmers can develop both power and control in their legs. This variation will mimic different race scenarios where different levels of effort may be required.

Finally, incorporating core exercises into your dryland routine will complement your flutter kick development. A strong core provides stability and helps transfer energy from the torso to the legs during each kick. Exercises such as planks, Russian twists, and leg raises will aid in building a solid foundation for an effective flutter kick.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the flutter kick in swimming?

The flutter kick is a technique used in swimming that involves rapidly kicking the legs up and down to generate propulsion in the water. It is commonly used in the butterfly and freestyle strokes.

2. How do you do the flutter kick in swimming?

To do the flutter kick, start by lying flat on your stomach in the water. Bend your knees slightly and alternate kicking your legs up and down quickly and forcefully. Keep your ankles relaxed and toes pointed. The movement should come from your hip flexors, not your knees.

3. What are the benefits of using the flutter kick in swimming?

The flutter kick helps swimmers maintain a horizontal body position in the water, improves overall propulsion, and allows for a more efficient stroke. It also engages the core muscles and helps with stability and balance.

4. Are there any common mistakes to avoid when doing the flutter kick?

One common mistake is kicking from the knees instead of the hips. This can lead to a less efficient kick and increased drag in the water. Another mistake is having stiff ankles, which can cause unnecessary resistance. It's important to keep the ankles relaxed and flexible.

5. How can I improve my flutter kick?

There are several ways to improve your flutter kick. Practice kicking with a kickboard to isolate the leg movement and focus on building leg strength. You can also incorporate kicking drills into your training routine, such as vertical kicking or underwater kicking. Additionally, working on ankle flexibility and overall leg strength through dryland exercises can also help enhance your flutter kick.

6. Can I use the flutter kick in every swimming stroke?

No, the flutter kick is primarily used in the butterfly and freestyle strokes. In breaststroke and backstroke, different kicking techniques are utilized. Breaststroke uses a frog kick, while backstroke utilizes a flutter kick with a slight scissor-like motion. It's important to practice and master the appropriate kick for each stroke.

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