When it comes to diving, there is more than one way to propel yourself underwater. While the golden rule is that you should never use your hands – think breast stroke swimming – there are several ways to use your legs to motor around a dive site. Whichever method you choose will depend on the situation and the environmental conditions at the time. So, read on and find out how and when to fin.
You need to have proper finning technique for several reasons, firstly as a matter of course using proper technique will make your diving experience effortless and easy. Secondly as a bonus to the effortlessness of proper technique, it will improve your air consumption since you will be gliding around effortlessly, thereby needing to use your muscles less, so you don’t need to use as much air. Finally, once you have mastered proper technique and it is second nature to your diving style, you will find that it will improve your overall diving experience and pleasure.
No matter what technique of finning you try, it won’t work to its best unless your trim is spot on. By trim we mean the diver’s body position in the water. The perfect trim position is to be completely flat, with your knees bent at 90 degrees, and your feet and toes pointing backwards. You need to be in the proper position and have good buoyancy control to make fin kicks work for you. Trim and buoyancy are the foundation for efficient proper kicks.
There are two distinct types of kicks you can use when you dive. Each type has several sub variants that you can use in specific circumstances. The main two types are Flutter kicks and Frog kicks.
These are the basic kicks that you first learn, even before you start diving, they are based on the standard freestyle swimming kick. When executed while diving it should be slower, and more purposeful than the swimming kick, more of the leg should move relative to the swimming variant. The flutter kick is the most powerful and fastest of all the kicks that you can use. However, it can be tiring and will cause you to use the most air, in addition to being not the most efficient in terms of streamlining.
This variant of the flutter kick is when the knees are bent at 90 degrees, and the diver flutters their ankles only to propel themselves forward. A very gentle kick that propels a diver slowly forward without much power, it is the perfect kick for confined spaces such as inside wrecks or caves, where the diver does not have sufficient space to theeir side to frog kick, and if they used a regular flutter kick they would kick up silt or rust from the bottom.
Frog kicks are by far the most efficient of all kicks, since at the end of the stroke, the feet and fins end up behind the diver masked by the tank on their back. This results in the most streamlined profile, and maximizes their ability to kick and glide through the water. In terms of power it is second only to the flutter kick. One thing inexperienced divers should remember is that the Frog kick is not the same as the breast stroke kick from swimming. The swimming kick generates the force through pushing back with the soles of the feet, while the diving stroke generates power via a sculling motion with the ankles. It is the hardest to master and does require patience and practice to be able to get the most out of it.
The Frog kick should be the standard go to kick for every diver, it is the best all-round kick there is.
Two variants of the Frog kick that give divers total dexterity and mobility in the water are helicopter turns, and back kicks. Using only one half of the Frog kick and changing the angle of ankle when executing it, lets the diver spin in any direction horizontally without the need to use their hands in any way. Being able to turn left or right or completely around while hovering using only your feet is a great advantage especially if the diver is using their hands for something else like taking pictures.
Back kicks are the ultimate scuba kick to master, they are exactly what their name implies, by executing a frog kick in reverse a diver can propel themselves in a straight line backwards. They are great for confined spaces, or when the diver needs to maintain his spatial orientation while swimming away.
Every diver even the most experienced can improve their diving, one of the easiest way to polish and improve your diving skills and experience is to master your kicking techniques and improve your overall diving.