The Dolphin Kick

With more and more pool lifesavers around the world using the dolphin kick as a huge weapon in races, what are the key technique points to have the best dolphin kick?


Many people point to hip movement as being the most critical, but the leg motion and position are equally – if not more – important.


Dolphin kick technique highlights:

  • While hip movement is important, the propulsion is definitely coming from the extension of the legs.

  • The knees must bend and drive forward in order to set up the kick. From that, the legs then whip forward to a complete extension. This movement is powered by the quadriceps. Just like kicking a soccer ball or football.

  • It should be a forward kick, meaning that the toes should be in front of the body at the finish of the kick.

  • For the duration of the leg whip, the core should be tense and locked in. With this core tension, the hips move backwards in a controlled manner…like it’s resisting the leg movement.

  • The hip movement / core tension does two things: (1) provides stability for the leg motion and (2) makes sure the kick moves the swimmer forward (as opposed to up or down).

  • Many pool lifesavers move the hips back too much because that’s their focus. Too much hip movement prevents the legs from catching and whipping as much water as possible.

  • Upper body movement varies among the best kickers. Sometimes it can help a pool lifesaver get the legs and hips right. A pool lifesavers can definitely bend the upper body forward too much, which is often caused by lifting the hips up too much to set up the kick.


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