Scuba Finning Technique: Learn to Maximize Your Kicks

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Scuba diver scanning the ocean floor for sea life

We all want to get around in the water as efficiently and quickly as possible.

There are a lot of different types of finning techniques/ kicks that one can use underwater.

Here are some of the most popular techniques and how to do them.

Why is your finning technique so important?

The more efficient your finning technique is, the less air you will consume.

In turn will give you more bottom time to see wildlife, explore shipwrecks, or do whatever it is that you want to do underwater.

With correct finning, you will also not disrupt the wildlife and have better opportunities to observe animals that might not have been scared off.

Another benefit is that most of the time we are doing multiple dives and proper finning will save you energy for more diving.

Scuba diver scanning the ocean floor for sea life

What are the different finning techniques/ kicks?

There are all sorts of different techniques for finning.

Below is a list of the most commonly used ones for scuba and freediving with a short description.

I will go into more depth on flutter, frog, and freediving kick as these three are the ones you will use the most.

  • Flutter kick – Moving your legs up and down with a slight bend.
  • Frog kick – Bend your legs upwards at a 90° angle, and fins parallel to the ground with the ankles together while thrusting your hips forward.
  • Modified flutter kick – This kick is quite common and you will keep the thighs pretty straight with the knees bent kicking from the lower part of your legs/ ankles.
  • Short frog/bent-knee cave kick – It is the same as the frog kick but you don’t go as far with your legs and use gentle kicks with less force.
  • Helicopter turn – With one fin do the frog kick, using the right fin to turn left and vice versa. It is more of a pivot and not a full circle.
  • Reverse or back kick – By doing the frog kick in reverse with both or one fin at a time to get where you need to.
  • Dolphin kick/Monofin – The power from the dolphin kick originates in your torso, not your knees with visible undulations. It is a very hard freediving technique to master.
  • Shuffle kick – In this kick, you shuffle your fins up and down with your knees in line with your shoulders.
  • Scissor/ Split kick – This is when the flutter kick and the frog kick are combined.
  • Freediving kick (Bifins) – Keeping the legs straight with a bend no larger than 45 degrees at your knees and toes pointed down.

The Flutter Kick

This kick is swimming and diving 101 and is most often used in open water and wall diving.

It is something that you will need to master as it is the basis of a lot of other kicks.

You do the flutter kick by gently moving one leg up while the other comes down while having a slight bend in your knees as you kick.

As long as the motion is not like riding a bicycle and your toes are pointed down you should be fine.

Do remember that the hips and legs should be in alignment with your torso when you are performing the flutter kick.

As with all kicks you want to be relaxed as possible to conserve energy whilst still getting to your destination safely.

This is easy to say in theory but in a strong current, you will have to really use your power and just remember that you will consume more air.

The Frog Kick

To do the frog kick you want to be relatively flat in the water, knees bent upwards at a 90° angle, and fins parallel to the ground with the ankles together. You want to then thrust your hips forward.

You may be asking why would do this more complicated frog kick rather than the flutter kick. It is another tool in your tool belt and much more useful and efficient in different situations.

Here are some reasons that one may want to use the frog kick.

  • It uses less effort because the kick propels water directly behind as opposed to above and behind.
  • You are more balanced and if done correctly should be more comfortable since the frog kick does not rock your body from side to side.
  • Lastly, the frog kick should put less stress on your, legs, knees, and ankles than other kicks.
  • For those diving looking for macro and in areas that are low visibility, since the water is not propelled downwards, no sediment is not stirred up and you can find that elusive ornate ghost pipe fish or the hairy frogfish.

Freediving Kick

freediver practicing their finning technique

This kick seems straightforward in theory, it is like the scuba flutter kick. There are a lot of differences though and things that will affect your finning when freediving compared to scuba are quite different.

The reason is that in freediving you are doing a breath-hold and energy and Oxygen consumption are much more important compared to scuba diving due to the short dive intervals.

This is not even bringing into consideration, the type of fins and your body type.

The freediving finning technique uses your hips with straightish legs trying not to bend your legs past 45 degrees. You want to have a mid-sized amplitude that suits your body while staying relaxed.

As compared to scuba fins, freediving fins are quite different, in freediving, the fins range from short carbon (which I use) to long heavy plastics. The body type, weighting, length of fins, material of fins, and freediving discipline make a huge difference.

So there is actually no perfect freediving technique that would suit all. You need to figure out what works for you and what you need you to travel to that destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no single technique that one would use for every dive. Finning faster will get you to your destination quicker but it rarely gets you there with more air.

You need to find that sweet spot between speed and efficiency also taking your environment into consideration.

If you are diving in caves with limited space to wreck diving or even open water, you need a variety of kicks in your repertoire to be able to choose the best one for the conditions.

Even your diving gear will affect which technique is applicable for the situation.

Here are a few steps to easily improve kicks, you need to start off easy, and practice a lot to get where you need need to be. When you are first learning a finning technique, practice without fins and by holding out the side of the pool. Then later do full lengths of the pool with our fins. Lastly, add the fins. It seems like common sense and a lot of time but if you want to perfect your skills this will help.

That is a great question and it changes on your needs and your style of finning, not to mention that every year the fin technology gets better and better. Read this article here to learn more about the best fins in 2022.

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