The 10 Best Kickboards
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Perfect for pool activities ranging from swimming lessons to intensive training, kickboards can help swimmers improve their stamina and technique by isolating the leg muscles and promoting proper form. Here you'll find plenty of selections in a variety of designs to suit both beginners and experts alike, so if you want to enhance your in-water performance, look no further. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 02, 2020:
Kickboards can be used as training aids for competitive swimmers, as therapy devices, for general fitness purposes in aquatic aerobics, and as a tool to help new swimmers improve their form and become more confident in the water. With this in mind, we wanted to make sure to include at least a couple models that are well suited to each of these tasks. One quick note about safety though, kickboard are not designed to be flotation or lifesaving devices. If this is what you are looking for, you should consider floaties or a lifejacket.
For competitive swimmers looking to improve their stamina and leg strength, there are few better options than the Speedo Double Barrel, which provides 6.5 times the resistance of standard models. It accomplishes this by incorporating two channels for water to flow through that decrease in size from the intake to the vent. The Finis Alignment is another good option for competitive swimmers. Along with the Double Barrel, this one also sits slightly below the surface. Unlike the former though, it has a strap to keep your hands in place, allowing you to keep your fingers and arms in the proper streamlined position, which should translate to better form when you aren't using the board.
The Arena KCKBRD, Viahart Training Aid, and Melissa & Doug Spark Shark are all good training aids for young swimmers. The Arena KCKBRD comes in a variety of cool designs, which may help motivate your child to practice swimming more often, while the Viahart Training Aid is a very basic, but affordable option that is great for parents on a tight budget who need to buy kickboards for multiple kids. The Melissa & Doug Spark Shark is the perfect size for toddlers and will probably remind them of one of the characters in the popular "Baby Shark" cartoon.
If you are a casual swimmer just looking for something to help you isolate your leg muscles, we recommend the Speedo Team, Finis Foam, Poolmaster 50513, and Tyr Classic. Except for the Poolmaster 50513, which is crafted from a nearly unbreakable polyethylene material, all the rest are crafted from a skin-friendly foam that won't chafe or absorb water. The Speedo Team garnered the top spot as it seems to offer the best balance of price and performance. We especially like the contoured grip area and textured surface that help ensure you never lose hold of it. That being said, the Poolmaster 50513 is a definite winner for versatility, offering a large variety of hand placement options.
Fitness Gear Kickboard The Fitness Gear Kickboard has a cutouts, as well as ridges on the front edge in case you want to vary your hand placement. It also boasts ergonomically-contoured edges, a slightly pebbled texture to provide some traction, and a stylish design. dickssportinggoods.com
What Separates a Good Kickboard From a Great One?
When it comes to kickboards, it's best to prioritize substance over style, as there are a lot of sleek-looking boards that simply can't live up to their design.
When it comes to kickboards, it's best to prioritize substance over style, as there are a lot of sleek-looking boards that simply can't live up to their design. The classic kickboard is shaped like a U (or a tombstone) across the top, thus allowing the board to make easy turns while in the water. Certain boards are also built with hollow slots along the rim. These slots act as a safety mechanism by keeping a submerged board from springing up and hitting its owner in the chin.
Most people prefer a kickboard to be light (i.e., 5-12 oz.), but not flimsy. Ideally, you'll want a board to be made out of either plastic, or fiberglass, or polyurethane. Foam boards aren't very durable, and you're likely to encounter some problems whenever you're trying to balance significant weight on a foam board in the water.
It's important to note whether a kickboard has been designed with any type of a curve along the base. A curved base will allow you to avoid knocking into the board with your knees - or your head - whenever you're doing standard exercises. In addition, a curved base will keep the board from jamming into your chest whenever you're leaning on it from behind.
As a precaution, you may want to do some research to ensure a kickboard offers UV protection. Certain boards attract the sun by virtue of their colors. This could, of course, cause a major sunburn if you happen to be outdoors on a kickboard for any extended period of time. In addition, it helps to confirm that a kickboard is weatherproof. Certain plastics are prone to warping, and a lot of people tend to leave their pool supplies out in the yard during the cold-weather months.
A Quick Breakdown of The Most Beneficial Kickboard Exercises
Swimming has tremendous cardiovascular benefits. And whether you are an experienced swimmer or someone who rarely goes to the deep end of the pool, using a kickboard can make exercising in the water a whole lot easier, and fun.
As an example, consider one kickboard exercise that requires you to stand in chest-high water, while pressing down against the side rails of a board.
The most straightforward kickboard exercise requires that you drape the top half of your arms over a board, while kicking your legs across a pool. This builds the quads, while easing joint and muscle pain throughout your lower body. You can shift the focus to your hips by maintaining the same position, while bringing one leg up, and out - as if you were climbing - until that leg runs parallel with your waist. Switch legs. Repeat.
One of the benefits of doing kickboard exercises in a pool is that the water offers a natural form of resistance, which is the basis for a lot of fitness equipment. As an example, consider one kickboard exercise that requires you to stand in chest-high water, while pressing down against the side rails of a board. You can build your biceps and your forearms this way (just be mindful not to lose hold of the board).
If you're an experienced swimmer, you can really work the abs (along with the shoulders) by lying on your back while holding the board above your head and kicking forward. This exercise is difficult in that it places the onus almost entirely on your lower-body. But it'll pay significant dividends if you can build up to doing it while kicking your way across the water.
A Brief History of The Kickboard
Kickboards were invented by Adolph Kiefer, an American swimmer who set an Olympic record in 1936 on his way to taking home the gold. Upon returning from Berlin, Kiefer was hired by the U.S. Military to handle water training. Eager to help recruits work on their leg strength, Kiefer developed a series of "kickboards," which he had designed by way of combining plastic polymers with fiberglass.
Kickboards are still used as a military resource, and they are often used in conjunction with certain facets of lifeguard training, as well.
These boards caught on so quickly that Kiefer began to manufacture them. Within a few years, the "Kiefer Kickboard" had become a staple of the physical-therapy market. The demand for these kickboards was such that it led to increased competition, along with several derivative items, including the swimming noodle and the leg buoy.
By the 1970s, kickboards had evolved into a training tool for aspiring swimmers, as well as toddlers who had just started making their way into a pool. Once the fitness craze took hold, waterbugs throughout the U.S. began to experiment with different aerobic exercises that could be done via a kickboard in the pool.
Today, you can find kickboards at any swim club, gym, water park, therapy center, YMCA, or aquatic class. Kickboards are still used as a military resource, and they are often used in conjunction with certain facets of lifeguard training, as well.