You keep asking for it, so here it is! I’m going to do a mini series of our favorite training tools that we use most often with our SwimBox clients. All of these items are used on a daily basis with our clients to help them learn proper technique as well as practice building strength in between lessons. I also use them all myself! First up: our mini resistance bands.
Let me start off by saying that I LOVE these bands. They’re easy to use in so many different ways, are small and can be taken pretty much anywhere, and they’re incredibly reasonably priced. Not to mention, they come in a pack of four different resistance levels so you can level up as you get stronger. We’ve only ever had one client move all the way up to the black band (highest resistance level), but just think of it as a a goal to get to. Or don’t! You definitely don’t need to use the highest level of resistance in order to make using the bands worth while. In fact, using the lower levels are going to be more beneficial in helping you learn proper movements, as you won’t be fighting against the band as much when trying to make sure your movements are correct.
We mostly use these bands to work on the upkick aspect of freestyle kick. Upkick is when you’re kicking upwards towards the surface of the water with the back of your legs/bottom of your feet. This movement is often overlooked - sometimes never even heard of - and is one of the main things that helps keep your legs and hips and the surface of the water. How do you work on this, you ask? Slip one of the resistance bands around your ankles, and practice kicking in a streamline position. With the band on, focus on kicking upward towards the surface. If you lose focus, or put too much power into your downkick, your legs will sink and the band will fall off. This is a great tool to use during your swim practices as it gives feedback without having to have a coach watch your every movement. You’ll want to kick just big enough to feel the resistance of the band, but you don’t want to fight to pull the band apart!
The other way we use these resistance bands is around the thigh, right above the knee. This might seem like an odd placement, but keep in mind it’s not here to be fought against. Using the band in this way helps you work on keeping your legs from splaying apart during your kick. You might not know it, but most people’s legs splay open during freestyle kick in order to help them balance. If you’re thinking to yourself, “no way, I’m not that person,” think again! This movement is a natural way for your body to move when you’re swimming freestyle and rotating properly as you move through the water. We can’t eliminate this movement altogether, nor do we want to, but we can minimize it to help improve efficiency. Enter, the mighty resistance band! Having the band in place, around the thighs and right above the knee, forces you to make smaller movements and keep your legs closer together during your kick. An added bonus? This also helps you work on kicking from your hips, not your knees.