Last Updated: March 14, 2023
There are several different techniques for finning when scuba diving, all of which stem from the flutter kick and frog kick. The movements are simple but require strong leg muscles and stamina.
In this article, I will review the different scuba finning techniques as well as the most appropriate times to use each one. I will also advise you on the best position for your arms when finning, how to improve your finning skills, and some exercises you can do to practice your techniques.
Scuba Finning Techniques
There are several useful finning techniques that you can use while scuba diving. Each one is designed to help you move through the water efficiently and with minimum impact on your surroundings.
The frog kick is one of the most popular finning techniques. In order to frog kick, you must keep your body on a full horizontal plane. Fully bend your knees up towards your chest then out to the sides and kick back straightening your legs. In essence, you’re mimicking a frog or doing the same basic kick as you would in a breaststroke.
Modified Frog Kick
There is also a modified version called the short frog kick in which you keep your knees in closer and don’t kick out as much. Both of these techniques are great for cave diving, diving near fragile species such as coral, or diving close to a silty or sandy bottom to avoid stirring it up.
The flutter kick is the easiest scuba finning technique you’ll learn and probably the first. Gently move one leg up while the other comes down. Slightly bend your knees as you do this kick. Use a relaxed movement or you will exert too much energy.
Modified Flutter Kick
The modified version of the flutter kick is the most common kicking technique. You only flutter your lower legs while keeping your knees bent. This technique is great for a relaxing dive or if your feet tend to float.
A scissor kick is a technique that is a hybrid of the frog and the flutter kicks. Instead of frog kicking with your knees out to the side, you bring your knees to the front and back at opposite times. This is a super powerful kick that is a great low energy way to propel yourself forward in short bursts.
The dolphin kick is a good finning technique for swimming vertically in the water column. You keep your legs and feet together while thrusting with your hips through your entire lower body. This kick does consume a lot of energy though, so it should be used sparingly.
A super challenging finning technique to master is the back kick. It is basically a frog kick in reverse that allows you to swim backwards as the name implies. This kick is great for keeping you in one place underwater in a current, backing out of caves, for underwater photography, and diving instructors who are observing their students.
An extra scuba diving fin kick technique that is especially helpful for wreck diving is the helicopter turn. One leg executes a frog kick while the other does a back kick, essentially pivoting your body. This is an extremely efficient way to change directions underwater.
What is the Position of Your Arms in Finning?
When you’re finning, your legs are doing all of the propulsion work. You shouldn’t need to use your arms to help move you forward. The best position for your arms to be when finning is out of the way or in a streamlined position.
Some divers prefer to fold their arms in front of them to help prevent the temptation to use them to paddle. It will also help you be aware of where the parts of your body are so that you don’t accidentally hit or snag anything. Admittedly though, this isn’t the most streamlined position.
For a more efficient arm position, place your arms straight out in front of you or along the sides of your body as if you were walking. This will make your finning technique easier to apply and your dive a more relaxing experience.
How Do I Get Better at Finning?
As with any skill, the way to get better at finning is to practice. Practice the finning techniques in a pool with just your fins on first. Once you get them down, then try practicing in a pool with all of your gear on.
This way you can get comfortable with the techniques, before attempting a dive where other factors such as currents or silty bottoms may add a variable of difficulty.
Another way to improve your finning skills is to strengthen your muscles outside of the water as well. Don’t skip leg day at the gym because you will need to build up all of those muscles from glutes to calves to hamstrings to quads.
One leg drop squat, calf raises, scissors lifts, and hamstring curls are all great exercises to strengthen and build endurance in the necessary muscle groups for finning.
While finning should be an easy and efficient way to move around in the water, it does require a tremendous amount of muscle and stamina that can tire you out fast if you’re not used to it.
Scuba Kicks Exercise
Some great exercises to help you learn and master these kicks involve starting off easy and practicing over and over again. When you first learn a finning technique, practice without fins and by holding out the side of the pool. Then add the fins into the mix.
Once you’ve mastered the kick, try swimming the length of the pool just using that kick in your fins. The best finning techniques to start with are the flutter and frog kicks. All other finning techniques stem from these two, so perfecting these first before moving on to harder ones is key.
Set a goal for yourself by doing sets of ten kicks until you feel comfortable with your technique. Once you try the harder kicks, go back and practice the two basic kicks again to make sure your foundational technique is solid.
Using fins while scuba diving is essential to moving efficiently through the water.
Scuba finning is the key to an efficient, relaxing, and enjoyable diving experience. There are a variety of finning techniques to employ, but all of them are some variation or combination of the flutter and frog kicks.
Your legs should be doing all the work when it comes to your propulsion through the water. Your arms should be in a position that will promote streamlined movement or at least remove the temptation to use them as swimming aids.
One of the best ways to improve your finning is to practice it. First try the techniques just wearing a good pair of fins, then add all your gear. Practice in the pool and always make sure your basic frog and flutter kicks are solid. Adding in leg exercises to strengthen your muscles and build stamina will also make your finning experience more enjoyable.
Overall, finning is an essential skill for a scuba diver to master. The more skilled you are, the less energy you will burn in your dive and the more relaxing your dive will be.
My unbounded love for the oceans and everything it has to offer motivated me to pursue my passion and become a professional scuba diving instructor.
I keep reading, exploring, and learning more about scuba diving and the underwater world all the time, so I’m excited to share my knowledge with fellow scuba enthusiasts and hopefully contribute a little to your development as a diver. I want people to fall in love with the oceans with as much passion as I have. Read more about me here.