Underwater kicking styles
Kicking style and techniques aid us in our diving capabilities and are important but how do we move our fins?
Finning is what generates propulsion. So we move ourselves forward in the water by moving our scuba fins. Choosing the right fins is also important.
Why is technique important?
Different kicking styles can be used in various situation and choosing the best one for the right circumstaces can aid in impriving your dive. It helps with buoyancy, air consumption, fatigue and can decrease the level of environemntal disturbance your kick generates.
Reducing silt kicked up can be especially important in a cave or wreck but also when diving on a sandy bottom. Your kicking can actually reduce the visibility for the rest of the group.
Traditional flutter kick.
With straight legs you move each leg, one then the other, up and down. This kick should not come from bending the knees but from the hips and ankles. It’s important not to lock your knees but the aim is to avoid bicycling. Bicycling is simply bending your knees to your chest each time you kick. This style uses a lot of energy because it doesn’t propel you very far. Always remember you are wearing fins for a reason.
Traditionally the main kicking style divers learn and used for counting ‘kick cycles’ during search patterns.
Firstly, the main advantage of this kick is that it creates a lot of propulsion and works great in a current. However a notable downside of this style is that as you move your fin up and down the water also moves up and down. It means even if you aren’t kicking the bottom with your fin you can still stir up sediment!
This style is equivelent to the swimming breaststoke without using your arms. You make wide circlular kicks – bend the knees in and push both legs out at the same time and then bring the legs back together straight. It uses the strength of your legs to propel you forward although the propulsion is not continuous. This kicking style does require reasonable buoyancy, because you are not always moving forward.
Due to the fact you move the water horizontal, more or less, it is great for swimming close to the bottom. The kick is wide however thus it’s not great for a narrow space and don’t kick your buddy either!
The more trimmed your position in the water, along with good buoyancy allows you to make the most of the gliding phase before initiating the next kick. This way you are likely to reduce your energy use and therefore your air consumption.
As you would imagine from the name this kicking style aids you in moving backwards. It is the reverse of the frog kick and can be quite complicated to grasp.
You have to kick out both legs behind you and slowly circle outwards so the legs come back into the centre. Start with the legs straight back and ankles together. Next, draw the angled fin tips outwards by spreading the knees and pulling the fins back towards the upper part of the body.
Advantages are that you can back up hence you can move away from divers, slow down forward motion as necessary, or back out of a tight spot and maintain your position in the water column without using your hands.
Unfortunately it is not the easiest kick to learn but just keep trying!!
Finally, imagine your legs to be like oars in a boat. If you want to turn the boat one way what do you do? Pull the oar on the opposite side. This works with your kicks too.
For a helicopter turn slowly move your fins apart horizontally in an opposing back-and-forth motion, while simultaneously rotating the ankles and fin blades around their own axis. A good video of this technique can be seen here
Without using your hands or stirring up the bottom you can effectively turn you self around
You can learn more about this kicking styles in some of our TDI courses so why not sign up today.
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Thanks to Mayumi Kubota and Ivan Samra for photos used.