Treading is simply using one’s legs to keep their head above the surface of the water. Whether it’s at the beach and you’ve gotten dragged out a little too far, you’re learning how to play water polo, or just someone who likes to take a dip in the pool, treading is a great skill anyone in the water should have confidence with.
That being said, treading properly can be a little complicated, and if done incorrectly can be very tiring. So here’s 5 tips to make sure you can tread as long as you want to.
1. Egg Beater
Many people use some variation of a breaststroke or scissor kick in order to tread water. The key to easier treading is to clean up this poor form.
Bring your knees high and alternate kicking with your legs, trying to make circles with them, just like an egg beater. Check out this video for a visual explanation.
2. Wide base
Going along with our form change to egg beater, it’s important to keep those knees nice and wide to create a bigger base. Practice stretching your hips wide and think about pushing that stretch when you’re trying to tread.
Lots of people will keep their knees too close together and this causes them to move their legs faster in order to stay up. This is gonna lead to fatigue a lot faster than if you keep a nice wide base with a less strenuous pace.
3. Keep Those Feet Flexed
Unlike swimming freestyle and backstroke where you really wanna keep your toes pointed, for treading you want to try to keep your foot flexed as if you were about to jump off the ground. This is gonna help push DOWN on the water propelling you UP.
Whenever I’m teaching this to my students I tell them to imagine trying to jump while tiptoeing, then to think about how easy it is to jump when their feet are planted on the ground, that’s the difference this quick fix makes.
4. Use Your Hands
There’s a specific technique called sculling that can help take some of the effort off of your legs. Cup your hands just as you would when you’re swimming freestyle and near the surface of the water push your hands together and apart in short intervals, bringing them near each other and then pushing them apart.
5. Build Your Leg Strength
The last step, as simple as it is, is to build up your leg strength! The key to being good at treading is to build strong legs and to practice treading more often. Simple exercises like squats and lunges target the muscles you’ll use most prominently while treading water.