View Full Version : Fin Technique

11-02-2008, 20:02
I'm a fairly new diver, and even though I can't dive every week, I do try to go to the pool and practice my kicks because that's where I have the most difficulty with. I've managed to get my underwater kicks fairly well, and my surface kicks are decent as well. The only problem I have on the surface kicks is that my feet tend to be way too buoyant and I can't keep them all the way below the water. Besides all that my biggest trouble is that I have faulty knees and ankles with no warranty, so it's hard for me to keep my kicks stable. So my question is if anyone knew:

1. How to keep my feet less buoyant (I'm already using ankle weights)?
2. How to get around my knees and ankles issue?
3. I also want to start practicing other styles of kicks underwater so that I can become well rounded, so if you guys have any suggestions please let me know.

At the moment I'm using Avantix-3 fins. My original ones were the flexible Aqualung fins and those were just killing my knees, once I switched to the stiffer model, it became a bit easier. So if you guys have any suggestions, please feel free to post them here. As always, thank you all for your help far in advance!

- Ali

11-03-2008, 10:00
Ali--FWIW my experience with new-ish divers teaches me the following in regard to your issues (and can I assume you're female given that having floaty feet is more often a problem for women than for men?):

1) For buoyant feet and legs, I tend not to recommend ankle weights but instead to suggest a series of shifts in weighting to pull the hips down enough to get the legs to go with them. For example, you can attach the cam band around the tank a couple of inches higher so that more of the tank weight rests on your hips. If you use a backplate and wing system, get the lightest weight b/p you can find. And wear rubber fins rather than plastic ones. IIRC, the Avantix3 fins are fairly buoyant, which can't help!

2) If you've got bum knees and ankles you should at least try the sort of fins that put the least stress on them. I find that split fins are easier on the joints than paddles.

3) You might try frog kicks. This is my own preferred kick both while diving and while swimming on the surface.

11-03-2008, 10:55
Nope all male right here! :smiley2: But I'm sure similar things apply. As far as the split fins, I was looking at them, but someone was telling me that the split fins require a bit higher skill level, so that's why I haven't gotten them yet. And as far as the frog kicks, is it exactly as it sounds? If that's the case, I tried it yesterday and seemed like I was getting less propulsion through the water. Any suggestions on that? Thanks again!

11-03-2008, 11:16
LOL, Ali, I'm glad I asked :icon_smile_blush:. Wouldn't want to offend (in either direction).

As far a splits requiring more technique, no they do not. But there are a couple of things that are not as easy to do in splits as in paddles, such as swimming backwards (which is already not especially easy, and becomes nearly impossible in splits). Splits are easier on the legs/knees/ankles, for sure. There are a bunch of performance studies out there demonstrating that splits provide more propulsion with less effort than paddle fins when using a flutter kick style of finning. My very first pair of fins were splits, and I bought them immediately after getting my OW cert.

Frog kicking is really a very, very efficient style. If you aren't moving forward, you may not be performing it correctly. Ask an instructor to give you some pointers next time you're in the pool practicing.

11-03-2008, 11:59
Here is some good info on split fins SPLIT-FINS - SPLIT-FIN TECHNOLOGY (http://www.split-fins.com/splitfintech.htm)

I have the Apollo Pros and I would guess they weight about 6 lbs so that might solve you floating feet problem and they are a nice set of fins and easy to learn.

11-03-2008, 13:33
I have the Apollo Pros and I would guess they weight about 6 lbs so that might solve you floating feet problem and they are a nice set of fins and easy to learn.
To clarify, the dry weight of an item is very different from its buoyancy in saltwater or freshwater. I haven't been able to find buoyancy specs on the Apollo fins, but I do know that they are negative...but probably not 6 lbs. negatively buoyant. Give them or any other negatively buoyant fin a try.

I also think that you should work on the frogkick. As Quero pointed out, it's a very efficient kick. Personally, it's my favorite kick because after the glide phase, I can check to see whether I'm neutrally buoyant...and whether I have good horizontal trim. With the frogkick, I'm also in good position to kick backwards if I'm trying to hold my position for taking pictures.

You may also want to consider diving slower. :-) I spend a great deal of time just hovering and checking out the tiny life on the reef. Diving like this enables me to see more stuff and to expend very little energy which translates into a lower SAC rate. Fewer kicks would make it easier on your bum knees/ankles, too.

Another way to give your knees/ankles a rest is to invest in a scooter. I hear that they're fun. :-)

Hope this helps...

11-03-2008, 17:29
I just read some articles about frog kicks, and it's funny because since I wasn't really trained in it I wasn't doing it properly. I was only doing it partway and not allowing my fins to come together. Does anyone have any instructional videos on doing proper frog kicks? Because this looks like it could be very useful. This is the article that I read that seemed pretty helpful:

Divernet | Diving Technique | 5 ways to better finning (http://www.divernet.com/cgi-bin/articles.pl?id=5453&sc=1057&ac=d&an=5453:5+ways+to+better+finning...)

Would you guys say that that is a pretty decent article? Or are there better ones?

11-03-2008, 17:44
Some frog kicking videos:


YouTube - Propulsion Techniques - Scuba (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLcITiZYUdA)

YouTube - Frog Kick (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2O7ro67HZs)

YouTube - The Frog Kick (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt1jJk9lN5E)

11-03-2008, 18:29
Wow those helped a lot! Thanks. I have to start practicing it to get it down, but the frog kick is how I normall swim in the water anyways (when I'm not scuba diving), so this might be a lot more comfortable for me. Do you guys know if frog kicks work well with splits or is it better to stay with a full fin for it?

11-03-2008, 21:36
There's a possibility that this thread will morph into one of the endless splits vs paddles debates, so I hesitate to comment, but with the caveat that in the end the choice comes down to what works best for each diver, here goes!

When I dive with my splits (X-pert Zooms), I have no trouble whatever with my frog kick. I think I execute my frogs slightly differently when wearing splits than I do when wearing my paddles (Quattros), but I still have no problems getting propulsion with either. But then, I'm never swimming races and just want to stroll around looking at stuff.

Still, you will undoubtedly hear some people say that frog kicks in splits don't work as well as frog kicks in paddles, and many of these same people claim they definitely move faster with a flutter kick when wearing paddles as opposed to splits. However, there have been empirical tests with results showing that splits are actually more efficient in propulsion than paddles, at least when it comes to flutter kicks.

What I think may happen is that people who are accustomed to the "feel" of paddles try out splits and don't feel their muscles working as hard, and they then interpret the lack of muscle work to mean lack of propulsion. It could also be that they are not using the short stroke for their flutters, which is when the splits show their greatest efficiency. And as I noted above, it may be necessary to adapt a frog kick to the characteristics of whatever fin you wear (including the much shorter force fins and much longer free diving fins).

IIRC the stats show that frog kicks with splits produce a slower velocity than flutter kicks with splits, but then there's the glide portion of the kick to take into account. I don't recall ever seeing stats comparing velocity of flutter kicks vs frog kicks with paddle fins? Are there such stats?

If I were you, before investing in new fins I'd adjust my weight distribution first to check for trim, and then try out the frog kick in your current fins to see how your knees and ankles feel. If the changes in weight distribution and finning technique solve all your problems, great! If not, that is, if your feet are still floaty or your knees still hurt, try less buoyant fins or split fins (or better yet, negatively buoyant splits).

11-03-2008, 22:50
Yeah, I think I'm going to give that a try. After all, it won't hurt to have two sets of fins, and that way I can pick between what I'm in the mood for.

11-03-2008, 23:44
You can frog kick perfectly well in splits.

The splits frog kick is not as efficient as the same kick in paddle (non-split) fins, however. It's a simple matter of having less surface area pushing the water.

The frog kick scoops water. The bigger the scoop, the more water you move, the faster YOU move. Very different motion and very different propulsion technique from the flutter kick, where splits will push you faster than paddles, in many circumstances, due to hydrodynamics, vortices flowing over varied surfaces in varied vectors, etc. (They bog down once you start pushing mountains of technical gear, but in simple recreational gear, it's true that splits can usually move you faster and easier than paddle fins, when doing the flutter kick.)

But absolutely you can frog kick in splits, as long as you're ok with not being quite as efficient. Best way is to try them out and see if you're happy with the movement you're getting out of them. The most efficient frog kick is going to come from a paddle fin, which is why you see mostly jet fin-type fins in those videos (among other reasons). But for recreational diving, if you're going to be splitting your time between flutter kicking and frog kicking, splits may be the ticket... or may not. At some point, you have to decide what YOU prefer. :-)

11-04-2008, 00:12
Do you guys know if dive shops will generally allow me to test out their fins before I buy or is that not possible? Because I would love to try several of the fins to get an idea of what I'm looking for.

11-04-2008, 00:52
Not sure about policies where you are from, but around here we don't offer "test dives" on new gear and our rentals tend to be simple, rugged, no-frills models rather than high end stuff like split fins. If your LDS has a club or group that dives together you may be able to borrow other members' fins for a spin in the pool.

11-04-2008, 12:59
Do you guys know if dive shops will generally allow me to test out their fins before I buy or is that not possible? Because I would love to try several of the fins to get an idea of what I'm looking for.

As mentioned it depends on your location. The LDS's in my area allow divers to try fins in the pool for a short time period. Just call around and ask.

11-04-2008, 13:42
Do you guys know if dive shops will generally allow me to test out their fins before I buy or is that not possible? Because I would love to try several of the fins to get an idea of what I'm looking for.

A few do (ScubaToys does), I suspect most do not.

If not, your best bet to actually try various types of fins is to make friends with other divers and borrow some to give a try.

11-04-2008, 18:02
Yeah I have a feeling that people out here won't, and since I'm fairly new I don't know a whole ton of people to borrow from. I read a lot of good stuff about the Apollo Bio Fin Pro C-series, but my main concern is whether the softer or the stiffer model would be best suited for me. That's why I wanted to try out fins. I know originally I had soft fins and I did terrible in them, but that maybe because I was new at all of this. I wonder if that'll still be the case now, or would I do better with softer fins...lots of questions...

Montana Diver
01-26-2009, 21:26
I purchased a set of bio fin pros and really like them. I have lots of pool hours on them since it's way cold here right now. I can get them to frog kick, however the flutter is probably their forte. They are faster and easier to kick then my old paddles, however, they definately do not like to go backwards. Good luck.

01-27-2009, 07:06
just saw this thread and thought i would say thanks for the videos. i've had a lot of chances for pool dives the last few weeks and i've been working on techniques and stuff and now this gives me another kick to try out. i've also found the reverse kick which i'll be trying out too....thanks guys.