Time for more controversy!
Kick boards are another tool that can be used as a crutch.
For those that struggle with floating, they certainly help you stay afloat.
Unfortunately, too many people grab a kick board so they don’t have to swim.
After all, it’s easier and you can breathe whenever you want.
If you’re going to grab a kick board and just kick mindlessly, they’re a crutch.
While kick boards are not going to be a central component of improving your feel for the water, they can be useful once you’ve gotten much better at tuning into what you’re feeling. They make it much easier to focus on what you’re doing with your legs as you move through the water.
You can experiment with fast kick tempos, slow kick tempos, big kicks, and small kicks.
By using metrics to compare speed and effort, you can start to figure out how you kick best.
For breaststrokers, you can even count your kicks to work on your efficiency.
When combined with speed and/or resistance, this is a great way to improve the feel for your breaststroke kick.
And you’d better believe breaststroke kicking is important for fast breaststroke swimming.
A kick board is going to make this process easier.
Regardless of their impact on improving your ability to feel the water, kick boards are VERY good at conditioning the legs.
Rest assured that all the skill in the world isn’t going to help you very much if your legs fatigue catastrophically in the middle of a race.
Your stroke will fall apart fast and you’ll be in big trouble!
Providing your spending a substantial portion of your training time working on your skills, including some kicking on a board can be a valuable way to condition your legs.
More than anything, training equipment provides options, and more options means more opportunities for novel ways to interact with the water.
Beyond the novelty that training equipment provides, each piece of equipment has its strengths that can be used to enhance specific skills.
Snorkels can help swimmers learn to improve their breathing skills.
Pulling can help with improving the feel of the arms.
Fins can help swimmers improve their feel at higher speeds.
Kick boards can enhance a swimmer’s awareness of their kick.
Of course, training gear doesn’t do this automatically.
It has to be intentional.
There are has to be engagement and purpose.
If you’ve learned anything so far, it’s important to be engaged in what you’re doing.
When that’s part of the process, training equipment can be used strategically to facilitate that process.
Faster. Easier. Better.