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Learn to Swim Front Crawl / Freestyle: Vertical Flutter Kicking Drill

Our swimming drills for the front crawl / freestyle stroke require that you have a moderately efficient flutter kick.

If your flutter kick is weak, you can practice vertical flutter kicking to improve your kick.

The following video demonstrates this swimming drill:

The vertical flutter kick drill can help you improve your front crawl kick

Drill Instructions

  • Go to the deep area of the pool, get into a vertical position and start to flutter kick.
  • The kick should start from the hip, move down the leg and finish with a whipping motion of the foot.
  • The kicking movements should be quick and compact.
  • You should try to keep your head above the water surface and keep your arms still, either extended sideways or crossed over your chest.
  • However, if your kick is weak and it is difficult for you to keep your head above water, a light sculling motion with the arms is allowed.
  • Do a few 15-second sets at each swim session.
  • Gradually increase the time per set.

With regular practice, your kick will improve and the drill will become easier. To up the ante, you can then try to keep your arms above the water or even hold something above your head like a ball.

Once you are comfortable doing this drill, add a little twist: start the drill in the usual vertical position, then progressively tilt your body forward in the water until it is horizontal.

Keep on kicking while you move forward until you reach the end of the lane. Don’t forget to breathe, though! :-)

Learning Path for the Front Crawl

Below is an overview of our series of articles on learning the front crawl. Each article in this series contains one or more drills that have to be mastered. The current article is highlighted:

Once you have gone through all the steps of this learning path, you should be able to swim front crawl without any problems.

Good luck!


Thursday 4th of April 2019

Hello, Thank you for this website,really useful! I am trying to learn freestyle swimming and cannot understand the arm trajectory after the pulling phase is over all the way till the hip - how exactly to bring it back to the front after that?


Sunday 14th of April 2019

Hi Mary,

Let's suppose you want to recover your right arm forward. When your right hand moves towards your right hip, your body rolls from head to toes with your right hip moving up.

At the same time, your right elbow, which is bent, leaves the water first, and then the forearm follows along.

When the hand has also left the water, you move your bent arm forward with the forearm still dangling, until your hand has passed your head.

Then extend your hand forward and pierce the water with your hand about ten inches further than the top of your head.

Finally, extend your arm forward underwater until it is fully extended.

(P.S. Sorry for the late reply)


Saturday 5th of November 2016


It's my 9th day of swimming... I'm doing freestyle... Two beat flutter kick... But I can't breathe rolling my head sideways.. Water tends to fill my mouth... So I have to push my head up slightly which cause me to kick harder and I get exhausted and often lose balance... I can't inhale sufficiently and can't cross the pool without a pause.. So I pause... Take a deep breath and start again... What should I do to overcome this??

Thanks in advance...


Saturday 5th of November 2016

Just practice our front crawl drills, there is an overview here:

This should keep you busy a few weeks/months. Learning to swim takes time, you just need patience and it will come.

Good luck


Sunday 18th of September 2016

Hello, your site is amazing, thank you!

I am a 44-year-old lady, learning to swim now. I haven't been able to move in the pool while kicking.

When using fins, I did move. I take them off, and nothing... I kick in place or start to rotate left or right without wanting to.

This happens both on my chest and my back!

Please help!!!


Sunday 18th of September 2016


It could be that you lack ankle flexibility. I'd suggest to just keep the fins for now (preferably short ones) and learn to swim with them.

Once you have mastered the arm movements and breathing you'll be able to swim even if your kick isn't propulsive enough.

Over time your ankles should become more flexible.


Wednesday 20th of April 2016

Hello there, I seem to have trouble floating. I just started taking swimming lessons again and still have the same issue.

An initial problem is very stiff ankles, please advise. Thanks.

I'll check out your site as it seems to have rave reviews.



Thursday 21st of April 2016

Hi Simon,

Stiff ankles is a common problem, especially among runners, soccer players, etc. Regular use of swimming fins will stretch your ankles and loosen them up.

Mae m.

Saturday 9th of April 2016

Hello! Christopher,

How do I stay afloat with the 10 brick on my chest? It's for the lifeguard retrieval training.

I seem to be going underwater holding the brick on my chest.

Help! Mae


Wednesday 13th of April 2016

Hi Mae,

I've never had to do this test. However, I'd use an inverted breaststroke kick and keep the brick as close to the chest as possible.

Have you seen the following video?

Good luck!

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