Working the Legs with Tombstone Kicking

Sometimes people underestimate the importance of kicking. A strong kick while swimming raises the body position so that you are riding on top of the water. Also, strong kicks off the start and turns can be the difference between making your goal time or not. The swimmer that combines a consistent kick while swimming will surely outlast the swimmer that only pulls with their arms and drags the legs. Distribute the work load across your entire body (core, arms, and legs), and you will be swimming more efficiently.

Despite these facts, many swimmers and coaches tend to ignore the legs while training, but I am a firm believer of having at least 1 good kick set for every practice. Yes a kick-set is slower so you don’t get as much “yardage” in, but if you keep the intensity up, it will be well worth the time. As an extreme example, we throw in Tombstone kicking at least once a week…

Tombstone Kicking – Killing your Legs

Take your standard kickboard and before you push off the wall, set it vertical in the water. Grab the board on each side, and have it so half of the board is out of the water and the other half is below the surface. The board should be perpendicular to the water surface. When it is time to go, push off with the board in this vertical position and start kicking HARD!

The board will create a tremendous drag effect. Think of it as anti-streamline. Put your head down and keep grabbing the side of the board while you kick. Try not to let the board fall forward, but rather keep it perfectly vertical. Drive the legs for 12 ½ yards (halfway) and then drop the board down to a normal horizontal kicking position for the rest of the 25. Repeat the sequence on the way back:

10 x 50’s Kick @ 1:20

12 ½  Tombstone – HARD

12 ½  Normal – Moderate

12 ½  Tombstone – HARD

12 ½  Normal – Moderate

The effects of Tombstone kicking are instantaneous. In order for you to go anywhere, you must drive the legs hard. The drill works for all kick types (flutter, dolphin, breaststroke), and will create some tired legs. It is also pretty fun and breaks up the monotony of “normal” training. Although you may not have put in a lot of yardage, Tombstone kicking is high-quality and intense yardage that you will certainly not forget.