How to Choose a Kickboard

January 22, 2024

A kickboard seems like a straightforward piece of swim gear: A generally rectangular piece of foam that helps swimmers isolate their kick and increase leg endurance. However, kickboards come in many shapes and styles, each with its own benefits. This guide explains the various types of kickboards and what they're designed to do.

Traditional Adult Kickboards

Kickboards for adults are generally thick, highly buoyant, and rigid. Traditional kickboards are rectangular, with a slightly rounded front and concave bottom, and can be used by adult swimmers of all abilities. Because these are the most affordable kickboards, they are a common sight at swimming pools around the world. However, because of their buoyancy some swimmers complain of shoulder pain after long periods of use.

Ergonomic & Streamlined Kickboards

Ergonomic kickboards perform the same function as traditional kickboards, but put less strain on the shoulders. Made with lighter foam and a more triangular (and therefore hydrodynamic) shape, ergonomic kickboards move through the water with less resistance and put less pressure on shoulders. They also often have cutout handles at the bottom for easier head-down kicking. More expensive than standard kickboards, these streamlined versions are usually used by either advanced swimmers or those with shoulder issues.

Children's Kickboards

Children's kickboards are lighter and smaller than adult kickboards. They are designed to be easy to grip, which makes them easier for beginning swimmers to handle. Bright colors and graphics usually decorate these boards to encourage fun in the water.

Kickboard-Pull Buoy Combos

Also known by some brands as a "pull-kicks," the combination kickboard-pull buoy is a foam board that features a flat middle section between two slightly rounded side panels. This way, the two-in-one piece of equipment can be held out in front as a kickboard or between the legs as a pull buoy. The main benefit of the pull-kick is that it reduces the amount of gear swimmers need to carry with them, making pull-kicks ideal while traveling.

Kickboards are a Universal Fit

While kickboards do come in a variety of shapes and sizes, any swimmer can use any style of kickboard. Adults can use boards designed for children, just as children can quite easily — and often do — use adult-sized kickboards. While it's a good idea to buy the board that best meets your needs — like an ergonomic board for swimmers with shoulder problems, or a pull-kick for swimmers who hate lugging around lots of gear — kickboards really are one-size-fits-all pieces of equipment once they're in the water.

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