Learning finning techniques on a freediving course is not usually the highest priority students have when they undertake a course with us. Understandably many students are focused on breathing techniques and equalisation. However, as the course progresses they soon realise that efficient, well executed finning techniques can directly impact on their ability to dive longer and deeper and contribute to a far better freediving experience.
Why the fins you use will impact on your finning techniques
The fins you use when learning to dive can influence your ability to master finning techniques. This is because fins will range in stiffness from soft to hard. The harder the fin the harder it will be to move through the water as there is less flex. Also, whether you are surface diving, depth diving or pool diving – each discipline could affect your finning techniques simply due to the power needed for each.
As a general rule the following applies:
Soft: For smaller freedivers, those with smaller leg muscles and power, or for spearfishers who anticipate long surface swims and shallow dives (typical for UK spearfshing).
Medium: For medium build freedivers with average leg muscles and power. This is the strength that suits most freedivers and (depending on the material your fin blade is made from) can still take you very deep.
Hard: For larger built freedivers with strong legs and power or for spearfishers who need quick bursts of power.
At Go Freediving our students are provided with medium fins, though we do have softer fins for children and smaller freedivers.
You can read more about fins and the materials they are made from here. We also sell the OMER stingray fins, as well as Spierre carbon blades when you are ready to upgrade from plastic.
Which finning techniques are best for freediving?
At Go Freediving we practice two types of finning techniques – the dolphin kick and the flutter kick.
What is the Dolphin Kick?
As the name suggests the dolphin kick is exactly what it sounds like. It involves stretching your arms above your head with your hands overlapping, like you’re about to dive into a pool, and perform a simple up and downwards unified leg stroke that provides double the leg power for an individual stroke. Our our legs moving as one, this, together with our mid core muscles drives the fin in an even and controlled way. Many people also find that it is easier to learn this stroke with the arms by the sides and also in a swimming pool.
It is most efficient when done with a monofin, although many freedivers who are prone to cramp may use this technique when wearing bi-fins.
What is the Flutter Kick?
Any person who can swim will have performed the flutter kick in some form or other – even if they didn’t know what it was called. A flutter kick involves an alternating up-and-down motion of your legs and feet. You simply move your legs from the hips down to engage your muscles and get where you need to go. Provided you do not bend at the knee, ensure you force power right from the hips down and use an equal front and back stroke of the leg you should be able to master this technique quickly.
Most freedivers will favour this technique as it is easier to learn than the dolphin kick and very effective when using bi-fins.
How to correct the most common finning techniques error
By far, the most common mistake students make when they practice their finning techniques is to have a strong backward stroke (the part where your legs and fins go back behind your body) and a non-existent forward stroke (where your legs move from in line with the rest of your body to out in front). This is because it is easier to move the fins backwards and more challenging to bring them forwards and displace a large amount of water.
The issue with finning this way is that it is impossible to descend vertically because the backward stroke is pushing you forwards. You will find that you go into the line or past it altogether and descend at an angle.
Learning the finning techniques and discovering that freediving fins are different to scuba fins has worked well and I can now use them to the fullest advantage.
A great way to correct this is to practice your finning upright on the surface. If you are upright with your head out of the water, try finning. If your legs end up behind you, tipping you forwards, your forward stroke is not equal to your backward stroke.
Make sure however, that you do not bend your legs at the knee. This will of course make the stroke easier, but is not an efficient way to move through the water, and can quickly become a hard habit to break.
Finning techniques in the Pool
On day one of our RAID freediver course, students will spend a morning in confined water (a swimming pool) practicing a variety of skills including finning techniques.
This is a great way for instructors to assess and guide students who may have issues with finning, in a controlled environment before they move on to the open water sessions.
It will also allow the student to concentrate on their technique and buoyancy without concerning themselves about depth and the additional energy required in open water.
Why Bananas do not help finning techniques
If you are diving horizontally in a pool, or diving down for depth in open water and you can see where you are going this means your back is arched – which is not conducive to streamlined freediving. I constantly remind students to keep their head tucked in, but so that they can see where they are going, they will often arch their backs and become freediving bananas! The main reason this should be avoided is for streamlining. Be a cucumber, not a banana!
The finning techniques have really helped me move more smoothly through the water than I was before.
If your body is as streamlined as possible and your finning techniques are correct you will be able to stay underwater longer as you are using less energy to get where you want to go. If your body is arched then you have to work harder when finning, using up valuable energy.
Let your fins do their job
Remember to maximise each fin stroke. Once you have made a fin stroke, let the fin blade finish the movement before reengaging it. This will also help you achieve a steady stroke rate. Also know that there is a very slight roll with your hips so when you fin correctly with your hips level your fins should not hit each other as they cross, so there is no need to dive with your legs scissored outwards – another waste of energy.
If you have well fitting, snug fins with appropriate stiffness you will maximize the transference of power through your legs, down through the blades and into the water.
The finning techniques have helped me to learn to be more effective while using less energy. It will also help me improve my spearfishing techniques.
Keep your upper body streamlined, your legs almost completely straight and move them equally backwards and forwards with a wide amplitude.
The best place to learn correct finning techniques for freediving is to come and take a course with us! We look forward to meeting you soon!
Check Out Our Latest Students In Action!
Class 14th – 15th September 2019
RAID Freediver Course
Date: 14 – 15 September 2019
Location: Vobster Inland Dive Centre
Water temperature: 19.6 degrees
Weather: Sunny with some rain, 20 degrees
Visibility: Excellent (15+m)
Instructors: Emma, Pash, Tom, Wayne and David
Students: Stephen, David, Jennifer, Neil, Angela, Peter, Richard, Lorna, Gino, Karen and Yann
Want to know what this weekend’s students thought of their course with us? Read on!
I am a scuba diva and in Dahab a few years ago I saw people freediving in the blue hole. I thought that freediving looked elegant, graceful and relaxing without the noise of the scuba equipment. I wanted to try it as an extension of my underwater experience, and was also drawn to it for the challenge of learning new skills.
I chose Go Freediving because they looked the most professional and used recognised qualifications. I read their website and felt I could work with someone that had their approach.
I have discovered that freediving is harder than I thought but I have loved it so far and it will be an ongoing journey for me.
I found the instructors fantastic. They are all consistently good, and I think the individual attention is crucial and they have managed to give that really well. Learning the correct finning techniques has been good and when I do it right, I can feel the difference.
The benefits of learning to freedive are the ability to relax and be calm – and it is fun! The benefits of learning with Go Freediving are professionalism, personalisation and very nice people!
I would definitely recommend this course because it is both challenging and very enjoyable to do.
I chose to do a freediving course because I wanted a new challenge and it is helping me relax.
I found Go Freediving online and watched videos of Emma and I wanted to give it a try. I have just loved being in the water! Overall I am more relaxed now and seem much calmer in general. The finning techniques have really helped me move more smoothly through the water than I was before.
The benefits of learning to freedive are that you get more confidence in the water, it is really good for relaxation and it is a great bunch of people. I would recommend it because it is fun!
I decided to do a freediving course because it looked like fun and I chose Go Freediving because their website was the easiest to navigate.
I wasn’t expecting it to be relaxing – I thought it was going to be hard – but I found it very relaxing. I have enjoyed lots of things about the weekend, I enjoyed the theory, being in the water and meeting such nice people.
The benefits of the course are that you learn a lot, the instructors are great and the student to instructor ratio is great. The location is great with loads to see. I would recommend the course because it is fun to try new stuff.
I started spearfishing in May, which was an extension of doing all the things I love in the water. I realised there are certain aspects of freediving and the safety of freediving that you cannot learn without instruction. So I looked around and found Go Freediving from recommendations and signed up for the course and I am so happy that I did because it has been brilliant!
Doing the course I have discovered new techniques, how to be safer in the water and I will be a better buddy and safer diver because of it. The techniques have helped me go deeper and reach my personal best.
The thing I have liked most is that the whole course is structured around safety and techniques and you have loads of opportunity to get out in the water. With something like this, safety is paramount and the instructors have been great and really friendly through it all.
The finning techniques have helped me to learn to be more effective while using less energy. It will also help me improve my spearfishing techniques. The benefits of doing the course is that you get to do the course at your own pace, great instruction with great quality kit. I would recommend this course for anyone who enjoys snorkelling or scuba diving and loves the water. It gives you more confidence in the water and you will learn skills that you will have for life.
I like being in the sea and exploring. I wanted to do this course to get some proper training so that I am able to stay under longer and safely. Go Freediving looked professional and well run which is why I chose them. Doing the course I have discovered that there is a lot more technique involved than what I thought and that I could push myself further.
I have enjoyed the training and the student to instructor ratio because it make it feel personal. I have enjoyed and benefited from learning the finning techniques too. The benefits of the course are that it keeps you calmer and gives you more confidence in the water. It is a well run course. I would recommend this course because it is good fun, excellent training, you are well looked after and it is a very friendly atmosphere..
It was the marine biology aspect of things that attracted me to freediving, being able to swim with sharks and whales that I can’t easily do when scuba diving. Freediving is also an up and coming study in sport so I wanted to give it a try.
I chose Go Freediving because it is close to me. I started with the Try Freediving course and wanted to progress to the next level. Doing the course I have discovered that some simple things are hard and I will need to persevere! I was also afraid of diving in a quarry but it was really nice and pretty.
I liked that you did the theory online so our time over the weekend could be spent in the water. The finning techniques have been great and are an essential part of the course.
The benefits of learning to freedive is that I have learned a lot about myself and my breathing which will help me in everyday life. Go freediving is a professional organisation and it is a very well run course. I would recommend the course for anyone who has an interest in freediving.
I’ve seen freediving for years and I have been dabbling in snorkelling and scuba. I did a Try Freediving course and at that point I realised I wanted to do a proper course. Doing this course, from the first dive everything has been so much easier and you have confidence knowing someone is by your side that knows what they are doing. The weekend has been really good fun and I have enjoyed the relaxation of it.
Learning the finning techniques and discovering that freediving fins are different to scuba fins has worked well and I can now use them to the fullest advantage. The benefits of learning to freedive are learning how to relax, learning how to breathe and to be in the water. I had some swimming and scuba preconceptions but this has just taken it to another level.
The ease with which I have done the dives here has just been phenomenal. I would definitely recommend this course to friends as it is just a great thing to learn, helps with relaxing which filters through to other aspects of life.
I have always wanted to learn to freedive and I just decided I am going to do it now!
I had a look online and saw people had positive reviews and it looked professional which is why I chose Go Freediving. Doing the course I have discovered that I can go deeper than I thought I could and I just want to keep doing it and keep practicing it. I will also join the Poole Club.
I have enjoyed the diving, and swimming through the plane was a highlight for me. The finning techniques have helped me learn to use the fins effectively with less energy and stay down for longer and go deeper. The benefits of freediving is that is not expensive to do as you don’t need all the equipment, it relaxes you and it is good for your fitness.
I would definitely recommend this course if you want to challenge yourself and if you enjoy exploring underwater.
I just wanted to get more comfortable in the water and learn to hold my breath and prepare for Royal Marines training. Go Freediving has an excellent website with loads of information and they rank number one. I also read about Emma, which is why I chose to do the course with them.
The course has helped me discover that I can relax more. I liked the duck diving techniques and also the buddy rescue techniques. The finning techniques have been a massive help and I can now go down really quickly now. The benefits of doing the course with Go Freediving are their excellent instructors, the friendly atmosphere and they are very well organised. They have really impressed me.
The course has helped me to relax and meet some new friends. I would recommend this course because it is very well organised, there is a lot of emphasis on safety and I can feel that I have improved over the two days.
I have recently been introduced to underwater photography and I need to learn to hold the camera still and practice some breathing techniques. A friend introduced me to a bit of freediving and I found it quite nice and it helps me relax in my day job as well and helps me unwind.
I was speaking to other divers and when I looked around, Go Freediving looked like they had patient instructors that would allow me to progress at my own pace.
Doing the course I feel much better about myself and have discovered that anyone can do it you simply need to relax.
I appreciated that when you did something wrong the instructors told you and helped you to correct it – they were really nice. The finning techniques and knowing how to fin properly now makes me a lot more efficient.
The benefits of doing this course are that you learn ways to relax, I can now go freediving without having to carry around loads of equipment and it opens up more options for holidays. Freediving is not only about depths but it is also about your enjoyment.
I would recommend this course because it is well organised and well structured and centered around everyone’s individual needs.
I went freediving a long time ago and I thought it was time to go back to basics and learn the fundamentals. I have seen Go Freediving and Emma online for many years which is why I chose them.
I have discovered that I can dive deeper than what I thought I could! I have liked the professionalism from every instructor and the emphasis on safety. The instructors are approachable and very friendly.
The benefits of freediving are you get to enjoy the outdoors and go back to nature. You learn to relax and be zen outside, sort of like meditating.
I would absolutely recommend the course because you learn the fundamentals and learn how to do it properly and I can dive more in a short period of time now which I couldn’t do before.
Learn to freedive with Go Freediving!
Go Freediving is the longest established, most experienced and friendliest freediving course provider in the UK, led by world class freediving instructor trainer Emma Farrell, and her team of personally trained instructors. No other course provider has such a good instructor to student ratio, safety record and personal touch.
Whether you’re a beginner dipping your toes into the world of freediving, a seasoned pro looking to turn professional, or simply a freediver of any level who wants the best freediving holiday in the world, we’re here for you!
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