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Treading Might be a Mobility Issue - Try These Stretches / Movements

Stew smith

Learning How to Tread as a Non-Swimming Athlete (Start with Mobility)

A big coaching moment for me this year was realizing that a group of land athletes were unable to tread because of the lack of mobility in their hips, knees, and ankles. Once we started practicing treading with mobility / flexibility drills on the pool deck (as a treading rest period) the group started being able to tread.  Here is how we taught the egg-beater kick to non-swimming / land athletes:

Egg-beater Kick Misnomer - Personally the term "egg-beater" is an inaccurate name for the kick you are trying to do. It is more of an alternating breaststroke kick vs thinking you have to spin your legs in a horizontal circle like an egg-beater. Think of if as more of a vertical plane / ellipse pushing water downward with the inside of your feet. Imagine kicking a soccer ball with the inside of your foot to the bottom of the pool with each kick:

If you are not pushing down with the inside of your feet and shins, you are not creating downward force to keep you above the water during a treading activity.

See the above in video movement - Check out this video because the alternating scissor kick is still a decent option if you cannot get the egg-beater.

The Frog Pose Series

Try this Treading Drill Each Time You Do a Swim Workout 

Warmup with a tread with no hands. Go for as long as you can then stop. Mark the time. Now get out of the pool and stretch foam roll on the pool deck for that same time you just treaded. Keep repeating until you have built up to 5 minute treads with no hands and 5 minute stretch periods. 

You will find by doing this 3-4 times a week you will build the flexibility and mobility in the joints needed to actually tread well. Within 3-4 weeks, you will see a night and day difference between your treading abilities. 

Treading with Fins - You will also need to be able to tread with fins holding a weight of 10-15 lbs in your future (Dive phase). Make sure you do this type of treading on leg days (2-3 times a week) as well. This kick will be a steady medium sized flutterkick so work the hip flexors and ankle mobility to handle the stresses of the fins in that flutterkick movement.

Try this Mobility Day Sequence of Events:

Repeat 5 times
Bike, elliptical, swim, or row 5 minutes
Foam roll / stretch 5 min

Combo of stretch / foam roll each set:
Set 1 – Feet, ankles, calves, shins, knees
Set 2: knees, hamstrings, thighs, ITB (sides)
Set 3: Hips, butt, lower back
Set 4: Torso, shoulders, arms
Set 5: Anything that is tight…

Now Go To The Pool and mix in Treading and Drownproofing Drills to Add to Water Confidence

Swim and Drownproofing Events Workout
(tied hands / feet are simulated)

It's best if this is done in a 9-ft. deep pool with simulated tied hands for DP events in bold italics.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Bottom bounce 2 minutes

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Float 2 minutes

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Travel 100 meters (only using dolphin kick)

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Front flip. Start flip off bottom of the pool and repeat 2-3 times in 2 minutes.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Back flip. Start flip off bottom of the pool and repeat 2-3 times in 2 minutes.

Swim 100m freestyle of side stroke

Mask Retrieval (pick up mask with teeth from bottom of the pool)

These are all of the events of the Navy SEAL Drownproofing test, but let's add in a few more events.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Tread holding 5-10 lbs. weight (mix of no hands snd one hand) for 2 minutes

Swim 100m freestyle of side stroke

Simulate buddy breathe with snorkel while treading on the surface (AF PJ test) for 2 minutes.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

- Never swim alone.

A Break-Through Workout For Aspiring Special Ops Candidates Seeking to Crush the Swim of the PST

STOP - Seriously LISTEN!!!
It Can Happen to YOU!!

Spec Ops Candidates DIE Nearly Every Year Because They Did Dangerous Underwater swims / breath holds underwater before they joined the Navy.   

There is More To than a You May Know

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, eBooks, local and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more) 

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops 

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


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The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


Questions?  Just email -

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