Overkick drill is one of the simplest freestyle drills out there. Here’s why you should add this drill to your workouts.
Overkick freestyle (or backstroke for you back-sided specialists) is one of the most rudimentary drills out there for swimmers.
Along with closed fist freestyle, it’s one of my go-to drills as it is no frills, easy to explain, and plenty awesome for your swimming.
How to Do Overkick Freestyle
When doing your regular freestyle stroke, all you do is ramp up your kick speed (aim for 2x your regular kick tempo), while maintaining the regular tempo of your arms.
If you’ve never done this freestyle drill, it will feel a little strange at first. It’s kind of like walking extremely fast while barely swinging your arms.
Although overkick drill looks simple, and it feels a little strange, there are actually a lot of neat-o things happening if you are doing the drill correctly over the course of your swim workouts:
It will connect your kick to your pull.
One of the big things a lot of swimmers miss out on is the connection between their freestyle kick and the pulling motion. They aren’t separate entities, although we very often train and treat them as such.
They are connected, and are far more powerful when they work together.
Kind of like how Power Rangers can be pretty okay on their own, they rock out with their socks out when the combine forces. Overkick freestyle will promote awareness of how both connect.
It will help you nix your cross-over ankles.
How even is your kicking? If you are like just about every swimmer out there, it’s pretty even, but not completely. There are times where you go from a 3-beat to a 1-beat, almost always when you turn your head (and hips) to take a breath.
This is especially prevalent in swimmers who have a bad case of corkscrewing hips, which leave your ankles hitting each other and giving you a stutter in your kick. Over-kicking encourages a straighter, fuller kick, exposing those criss-crossed ankles.
It forces you to relearn your stroke.
Another of my favorite drills is super slow swimming—it forces you to get real analytical and thoughtful with each part of your stroke. It’s like having to think about every single aspect of walking—which is kind of impossible and leaves you feeling awkward and having to rethink each part.
Overkick drill does the same; by altering the rhythm and rate of your stroke it requires you to focus a little harder on your pulling motion, hip position, and that most excellent high elbow catch of yours.
It’s free-range great for your legs.
Drill work is typically performed at a relaxed, low intensity level. (And not usually with the greatest form.) Catch-up freestyle, for instance, is where good freestyle often goes to die an ugly technical death alongside a 1-2 beat kick.
Overkicking drill will force you to work a little bit, giving you an opportunity to get some kick-centric work in while also focusing on getting better technically.
Keys to Making This Drill Work:
- Flex your core. Remember how we were talking about connecting your pull with your kick? Remember to brace your core while doing this drill, it will help you to bridge the connection between upstairs and downstairs.
See Also: The 6 Top Core Exercises for Swimmers
- Go for tempo over intensity. When kicking 6-beat at an all out pace you are going to get gassed. Quickly. Your legs are big, oxygen thirsty monsters who lap up energy quickly. As a result, doing this drill with an all-out kick will only be sustainable for short bursts. Instead, try doing a 6-beat “easy speed” kick that you can actually hold for longer stretches of swimming. The goal isn’t to murder your legs, but to get used to the tempo of all-out kicking.
When to Use Overkick Drill:
1. Use it in your pre-set. Ever have those main sets where it takes forever to get your legs into the swing of things? Overkick drill will help prime your legs for the tempo you want during your higher intensity reps and efforts. Do a few 25s or 50s of OK drill right before your main set.
2. Use it in when your stroke feels like crap. Stroke feeling loose? Feel of the water not what you’d like it to be? Inject this drill into your swimming to provide a new kind of stimulus to your swimming.
3. Use it in your meet warm-up to get your legs going. How much effort are you giving during your swim meet warm-up? The temptation is to swim slowly and with as little effort as possible, which actually doesn’t get you ready to perform later on in the day. Overkick drill is one way to get your legs warm and your heart rate up; remember, the goal with warming up is, uh, warming up.
See More Stuff Like This:
Closed Fist Freestyle: How to Unleash a Monster Freestyle. Another low-tech freestyle drill that is killer for improving your feel for the water and improving your early vertical forearm.
The Top 9 Drills for Freestylers. A collection of drills (with videos) from coaches Brett Hawke of Auburn and more. Whatever you are looking to improve within your freestyle this list of drills has got you covered.