Check out our best ideas for how to use a kickboard with kids to build strength and motor skills in the pool!
Kids seem naturally drawn to water and, my kids especially, could spend hours and hours in a pool on a daily basis during the hot months of summer.
My oldest has been a water lover since the age of two. Now, at 18 years old and headed to college, she has traded in her fins, paddles, snorkel and kickboard to coach the littlest swimmers on our local team.
I asked her for some of her best tips and tricks for using a kickboard to help kids get stronger while having tons of fun. Here are 10 ways that she would play with this popular piece of pool equipment.
How to Use a Kickboard With Kids
Classic Kicking Practice
Have kids hold a kick board with both hands, arms straight out in front of them as they push off of the wall and kick to propel across the pool. Encourage reciprocal leg movements as kids move forward using a flutter kick (knees should stay pretty straight during a flutter kick!). They will never know that they are gaining strength through their backs, bottoms and legs as the water resistance makes that forward movement more difficult.
The Shark Fin
Try placing a kick board between your child’s legs in a vertical position and have him propel across the pool using only his arms as he squeezes those legs tight to keep the kick board in place. We like to call this the “Shark Fin”. This is a real motor planning challenge for some!
Kids can try to sit on a kickboard for a balance challenge. Have them start by straddling it and then move toward trying to keep their legs together in a seated position. Bonus points for using a pool noodle as a paddle for this new found boat!
Need something more challenging? Have your child try her hardest to push the kickboard down under the water and hold it there. She might want to be extra careful that it doesn’t pop back up and into her face!
You can place a kickboard under each of your child’s arms like an airplane. Encourage them to keep their arms straight out to the sides and kick their feet so, so hard to send their airplane flying across the pool. This position is hard to maintain even without the kicking movement and encourages body awareness, core and upper body strength.
With your child in that same airplane position or with one kickboard held out front with both hands, you hold onto their ankles and count down a 3, 2, 1 BLAST OFF and give them a huge push across the pool for a bit of fun sensory play.
Who needs a water gun? Use the kickboard as a tool to splash friends or to move toys across the pool. Splash quickly or drag that kick board long and hard through the water to create your own tsunami! Awesome core and upper body strengthening through play!
The Hug and Kick
Hug the kickboard when lying on your back and kick those legs hard! Kicking while on your back engages the hip flexors/quads for increased strengthening and being buoyant on your back is a sensory experience in itself!
Ready for battle with a friend? Have kids hold the same board on opposite sides facing each other. Ready, set, go!! Both kids start kicking as hard as they can without letting go of the kickboard. Who will be able to move forward?
Use the kickboard as a bat and grab a beachball for a good old fashioned game of pool baseball. Mark a few bases on the side of the pool. When kids hit the ball using their kickboard, they then use that kickboard to move between the bases (hint: there are TONS of great ways to encourage that movement explained in detail above :)