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The Athlete Approved Guide to Using Kickboards for Swimming
There are a lot of different kickboards you can find at the pool! The best kickboards are ergonomic, durable, and can even improve your swimming technique.
Many swimmers think: “a kickboard is a kickboard, I’ll just grab any old one from the equipment bin.” That plan can work for some…
For those not lucky enough to have access to a well kept shared equipment bin that does not contain moldy and teeth marked boards (for some odd reason children love biting these), this guide will help find your perfect kickboard.
Also, if you are a swimmer looking for an edge to improve your swimming, read on to learn about the different options of kickboards and how they can benefit your training.
Our Athlete Approved guide to using a kickboard for swimming includes:
- The Best Overall Kickboard: TYR Kickboard
- The Best Technique Kickboard: Finis Alignment Kickboard
- The Best High-End Kickboard: Arena Swim Kickboard
- The Best Pull Buoy + Kickboard Combo: Arena Pull Kick
- The Best Kid’s Swim Training Kickboard: Finis Junior Foam Kickboard
- The Best Kid’s Fun Kickboard: Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Kickboard
- The Best Budget Kickboard: Viahart Swimming Kickboard
- How to Use a Kickboard
- Why You Should Use a Kickboard
- Fun Ways to Use a Kickboard
THE BEST OVERALL KICKBOARD FOR SWIMMING: TYR Kickboard
The TYR Kickboard is used for swimmers of any level, from beginner to pro. Use it to build your leg strength and increase cardio capacity. It is perfect for individual swimmers or teams looking for a solid all-around everyday kickboard.
This kickboard is time-tested and built to last. Its durability will last through many swims before it needs replacing. It may not have all the fancy bells and whistles of the other boards on this list, but is a solid overall choice for most swimmers.
The sturdy material and versatility of this board makes it perfect to stock in your equipment bin for general lap swimmers, swim team, and lessons.
THE BEST TECHNIQUE KICKBOARD FOR SWIMMING: Finis Alignment Kickboard
The Finis Alignment Kickboard is an amazing tool for swimmers to perfect their swimming body position. It is our top kickboard to use when working on technique.
The Alignment Board helps you hold your body in the correct position during workouts. Keeping your head in the “neutral position” with your eyes down is key to proper swimming technique. This board teaches you just that.
When using this kickboard on your front, you will have your hands in a streamline and head in the water. Try pairing it with a snorkel, so you can breath easily while perfecting your body position.
This cleverly designed tool will additionally help get you in the perfect position when side kicking and doing one-arm-drills. It is also great for flip turns.
The contoured shape helps you float effortlessly while staying on top of the water. It is also designed to decrease stress on your shoulders. It feels more like an extension of your body than a cumbersome piece of equipment.
The great thing about an alignment board is that it provides just enough buoyancy that allows swimmers of all levels to work on different aspects of their technique.
THE BEST HIGH-END KICKBOARD FOR SWIMMING: Arena Swim Kickboard
The Arena Swim Kickboard is a stylish kickboard that looks great on any swimmer. Do not let its sleek, modern look distract you from the high quality material and great utility.
The dual grip holes on this kickboard allow you to keep a more natural body position. You can also use different hand positions for a variety of different leg and core exercise.
This slick looking product stands out with its unique design, comfortable grip, and fresh color scheme. Our favorite designs include Harley Quinn, Crazy Labyrinth, and Team USA!
THE BEST PULL BUOY + KICKBOARD COMBO FOR SWIMMING: Arena Pull Kick
The Arena Pull Kick is an innovative and ingenious training aid which combines the design of a pull buoy and kickboard into one.
It’s no secret that packing your swim bag to the pool can be a hassle. This pull buoy + kickboard optimizes the room in your swim bag by being a two in one swim tool.
It also works great! As a kickboard it offers a variety of hand positions for developing strength and core strength. As a pull buoy it is light weight and comfortable. The foam material eliminates the chance of skin irritation.
THE BEST KID’S SWIM TRAINING KICKBOARD: Finis Junior Foam Kickboard
Get those little swimmers in motion with the Finis Junior Foam Kickboard. This kickboard is our go-to tool for teaching kids how to swim. It is light and simple, but is perfect for young swimmers.
The junior size is designed for smaller and lighter bodied swimmers who are just learning to swim. Kiddos can building leg strength while removing much of stress on the shoulders as well. It is also the perfect size for teaching “catch-up” freestyle.
The EVA foam will not chafe or irritate your skin and you will feel at one with the water with it!
The Foam Kickboard is perfect for kids, but also comes in an adult size. Be sure to designate the adult or jr size at checkout.
THE BEST KID’S FUN KICKBOARD FOR SWIMMING: Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Kickboard
The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Kickboard is a fun alternative to plain, standard kickboards. It comes in Spark Shark and Dolphin Dart characters that will make your kiddo excited to get into the pool.
Teaching children to swim is crucial, but it can be tough if you need to force your little one to get wet. Fortunately, this kickboard is the solution! Your young swimmer and their new favorite animal friend will be exploring the pool in style in no time.
The Spark Shark and Dolphin Dart kickboards are colorful and easy to spot in the pool! If you’re looking for something more than just a board to kick with, this is perfect for you.
The fabric withstands chlorine and sun exposure so you can use it time and time again with limited wear on the material or your swimmer.
*Please note that kickboards are not to be used as safety flotation devices and children should be supervised at all times when swimming!* Learn more about how to keep your kiddos safe in the water in our Parents Guide to Pool Safety.
THE BEST BUDGET KICKBOARD FOR SWIMMING: Viahart Swimming Kickboard
The Viahart Swimming Kickboard is the perfect kickboard for swimming pick for price conscious swimmers. It has a lightweight feel in the water and on your wallet.
It is durable and lightweight, made from eva foam. Whether you are new to swimming or an expert swimmer, this kickboard is a solid tool.
It is designed with two holes at the front for swimmers to hold onto. This helps to learn proper body position in the water.
This kickboard also comes in a variety of different colors.
How to Use a Kickboard
The kickboard is a tried-and-true swim training staple.
The simple way to use it is by grabbing onto and kicking, but there are other ways you can take advantage of the board for more efficient swimming.
When swimmers use a kickboard with their head above the water, it provides a nice break from everyday lap swimming.
However, it gives you improper body position and some coaches adamantly preach against it. There is defiantly a time and place for kicking with your head above the water (like social kicking). It is important to swimmers to know the difference between kicking with your head out of water vs face in the water.
Note that kicking for long periods with your head above the water can lead to lower body and shoulder injury/soreness, so best to do in moderation.
The proper technique to use to promote proper head and body position is to kick with your face in the water.
The fastest swimmers are horizontal on the water and have a “high” body position. Achieving that body position all starts with where your eyes are looking.
If you look forward, your legs will drop. This will create a “low” body position. This is most common with beginner swimmers who want to see what is in front of them. And believe it or not, this is how experts believed it was fastest to swim before the year 2000.
Learn proper body positioning with your head down by starting with a kickboard. It is much easier to reinforce this concept while kicking with board vs doing full on swimming.
Why You Should Use a Kickboard
Work on Kick Technique and Body Position
Swimmers know there are hundreds of little technical nuances to every stroke. Using a kickboard will isolate your kick, so that you can focus 100% on your lower body.
Some argue that the kick is more than half your propulsion. While we do not wholly agree with that, it’s worth noting that a solid kicking foundation can help you swim faster and stronger.
Beginner swimmers can kick on their back and “hug” a kickboard in their chest. This will give that extra support and flotation while working on body position.
You can also work on balance and core stability by kicking on your side. Hold a kickboard in one hand to provide extra support (a snorkel is also highly recommended).
Work on Lower Body Strength and Cardio
Our legs are the largest muscles in our body, which is why it’s important to give them an isolated workout! Kicking with a board will help you increase aerobic capacity without waring your shoulders.
We recommend incorporating kicking into warmup to loosen your legs. You can view more guidance in our article on How to Create Your Swim Workout Plan.
You can also mix in kicking to any workout (by the way, here are 100 Athlete Approved Swimming Workouts).
Or even have your main set be kicking only. Elite swim programs typically designate one swim workout a week to kicking, so that shows the importance of working on our kick!
You can also add fins to further work your legs. It is also just fun to go fast!
Mix Up Training
The best swim workouts incorporate mixing strokes, pulling, and kicking. Using a kickboard isolates your legs to work them extra hard.
Swimming laps can get boring. That is why we always use a kickboard! Not only does it add variety, but also makes workouts more exciting and much less monotonous.
Fun Ways to Use a Kickboard
Happy swimmers are fast swimmers. Here are our favorite Athlete Approved ways to get the most out of your kickboard:
- Social kick: Swimmers kick while they socialize. The nature of our sport limits social interaction. Use social kick to change that!
- Scull while standing on the kickboard: Work your shoulders and back while strengthening the core to maintain balance. You can also race against a friend!
- Tombstone kick: Position the board perpendicular against the water with half of it under the water. Your kickboard will look like a tombstone and your legs will be dead by the end of the set.
- Pizza delivery kick: Kick on your back holding the board above and parallel to the water. Pretending the board is a pizza, don’t let it get wet or else anchovies will swim onto it. And no one like anchovy pizza. This is a great core workout.
- Kickboard duel: Two swimmers kick against each other while holding opposite sides of the same kickboard.
- Flip turn with a kickboard: Most swimmers will do an open turn when using a board. Test your athletic coordination and shave seconds off your time by learning how to flip turn with a board.
- Birthday swims: When it comes to birthdays, there’s no better way of celebrating than with a birthday swim! Have your swimmer do a 50 or 100 butterfly while teammates splash water at them from either side of the lane with kickboards. Get the entire team involved while they bond together in the mayhem.
Conclusion on the Best Kickboards for Swimming
Now that you know the different Athlete Approved kickboards for swimming available, it’s time to pick up the perfect one. Use this guide as your go-to reference when choosing which board will be best suited for your swimming needs!
Let us know if you agree with our Athlete Approved picks for the best kickboards swimming. Post in our comments and on social media! We would also love to hear your recommendations.