Best Kickboards

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
392 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best kickboards

Last Updated December 2019

You wouldn't think of doing yoga without your favorite accessories — mat, blocks, resistance bands, balance ball — and the same goes for swimming. Whether you’re perfecting your technique or you just want to get a tougher lower body workout, a kickboard is the tool that can help you get the job done.

When searching for the best kickboard, it’s important to choose the type that is designed for your specific needs. If you want a general-purpose adult kickboard, for instance, that is a different model than one that is crafted to help you lower your sprint times. The right kickboard should be comfortable, easy to hold, and durable.

To learn about the different types of kickboards that are available, please continue reading. If you already know what you need, we invite you to check out the options we’ve highlighted in this article.

Although some companies claim a kickboard is a one-size-fits-all item, it's essential to find a model that is specific or adaptable to your individual needs or you could hurt your technique.

Key considerations

Types of kickboards

Believe it or not, all kickboards are not the same. They are manufactured with key differences that make them better suited for different purposes. The following are the four main types of kickboards.

Traditional: A traditional kickboard is what you see at most pools. It is the thick, foam item that resembles a brightly colored tombstone. The shape may vary slightly, but these general-purpose kickboards are designed to be one-size-fits-all items that provide a great deal of buoyancy. The only downside with this type is that some swimmers can develop pain in their shoulders because the kickboard is higher in the water than is natural for their strokes. For most swimmers, however, this is a negligible factor.

Children's: A child's kickboard is smaller, which helps the child achieve a better body position for most strokes (adult-sized kickboards can raise a child's upper body too much for an ideal stroke position). Additionally, these models are brightly colored and designed to be gripped by smaller hands. Many also feature fun designs.

Alignment: This triangular kickboard floats just below the surface of the water, making it the best model for serious swimmers who want to perfect the nuances of their strokes. The streamlined quality lets the kickboard glide effortlessly through the water. It is important to point out that these kickboards are the only ones that may be safely used for the butterfly.

Pull-kick: This kickboard features a two-in-one design: the swimmer can grab the kickboard with their hands or squeeze it between their legs. With this type of kickboard you can focus on either the arms or legs during swimming drills. The main benefit of this type is that it reduces the amount of gear a swimmer needs to carry to and from the pool.

DID YOU KNOW?

Depending on your intensity, you can burn anywhere from 250 to 400 calories in approximately 45 minutes of swimming with a kickboard.

Features

Once you know the type of kickboard you need, there are a few other elements to consider.

Handles/grips

Some kickboards are a uniform thickness and have no designated place to position your hands. Others have thinner sections along the sides and/or top to facilitate gripping the board. Still others have cutouts with built-in handles, so you know precisely where to hold the kickboard. The grips do not affect how the kickboard functions, but they do make it much easier to hold.

Shape

As previously noted, many kickboards resemble a tombstone with a concave bottom (to accommodate the swimmer's head). However, there are many variations on that design. The important aspect to keep in mind is the more streamlined the kickboard, the better it will function.

Size

Many manufacturers only make one size kickboard. Though children can use an adult kickboard, it isn’t the best situation. Ideally, when holding a kickboard from the top, a swimmer's elbows should rest on the kickboard, leaving adequate room for the head to be in the water if desired. Also, a kickboard should be no wider than the swimmer's shoulders.

Durability

Your kickboard needs to be thick enough or strong enough so it won't easily break. And you want a kickboard that won't fade due pool chemicals or sunlight. The best kickboards are waterproof and nonabsorbent so they dry off as soon as they’re removed from the pool.

DID YOU KNOW?

Individuals who swim recreationally can use a kickboard to keep their heads out of the water so that they can converse with a friend.

Accessories

If you're serious about your swim training, you want to be sure you have all the gear you need. Here are a few other items you might want to consider.

Swim goggles: Aqua Sphere Kayenne Swim Goggles
Goggles protect your eyes and let you see underwater. Though somewhat pricey, we like this pair from Aqua Sphere for kids in particular, as they fit the face with little to no discomfort.

Earplugs: Speedo Ergo Earplugs
Earplugs keep water from entering your ears and can help prevent ear infections. This comfortable pair from Speedo come with a special case. We like them because they fit comfortably and don’t cost a fortune.

Swim cap: The Friendly Swede Silicone Swim Caps
A swim cap protects your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine and keeps hair out of your eyes while you’re swimming. Additionally, a swim cap can help keep water out of your ears. This two-pack of caps from The Friendly Swede can be used for children or adults. Choose from a wide variety of colors and designs.

Swimming gloves: TAGVO Aquatic Gloves
The webbing between the fingers of swimming gloves makes your workouts tougher. If you’re looking to maximize resistance while exercising in the water, check out this pair from TAGVO. The gloves are available in two color choices and three sizes, so kids and adults can use them.

Kickboard prices

Kickboards are not high-end products. For the most part, they’re all made from roughly the same materials, although some are definitely higher quality and more durable.

Inexpensive: You can find a bargain model for just $5 or $6, but these kickboards might not hold up as well as you’d like.

Mid-range: The $8 to $15 range is where you strike gold. Just about anything you can imagine is available in this price bracket.

Expensive: If you'd like a kickboard with an advanced hydrodynamic design to reduce drag or a pull-kick or alignment kickboard, you can expect to pay between $15 to $25, but these items are often more than the average swimmer needs.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you experience pain in your shoulders when using a kickboard, it means the kickboard is too buoyant for your needs.

Tips

A kickboard is a fairly basic item; it’s essentially a flat board that floats. The versatility and effectiveness of a kickboard ultimately depend on how you hold it. The following are a few different ways to grip your kickboard.

  • Prone (traditional): Wrap your hands around the top edge of the kickboard, resting your elbows on the flat surface of the board, and kick. Your face can either be out of the water or in the water. This is a multipurpose position that works with a number of strokes and drills.
  • Prone (extended): Hold the bottom of the kickboard, extending your arms fully, and put your face in the water. This is an excellent method for achieving a streamlined position for the crawl.
  • Prone (using grips/handles): Some kickboards have cutout handles or other specific areas to place your hands for optimum stability. If your kickboard has these, it’s recommended that you use them.
  • Supine: If you’d like to practice strokes that you perform while on your back, lie on your back and hug the kickboard against your chest. This will support your upper body so you can focus on kicking.
  • Between the legs: Some specialty boards are designed to be placed sideways, like a shark fin, so you can squeeze them between your legs and focus on your arms. You might be able to do this with a regular kickboard, but it isn’t recommended. You will be focusing on holding the kickboard in place rather than focusing on your body position and stroke.

Other products we considered

If you'd like something markedly different, here are a few more kickboards to consider. The Speedo All-Age Elite Pull-Kick Swim Training Aid is two training aids in one. You can either hold it with your hands so it functions like a regular kickboard or squeeze it between your legs so it functions like a pull buoy.

The FINIS Alignment Kickboard is a high-quality kickboard that’s designed to float below the surface of the water to reduce the stress on your shoulders. This is the only kickboard that works with the butterfly stroke.

Last but not least, the Core Swim Training Swimming Pool Kit includes a kickboard, pull buoy, swim cap, and mesh carrying bag. All you need to supply is a bathing suit and goggles to start your training.

Care must be taken when using a kickboard. If it’s forcibly submerged, it can rocket to the surface with enough force to injure you or a nearby swimmer.

FAQ

Q. Aren't kickboards just for little kids who don’t know how to swim?
A.
No, not at all. Anyone can benefit from using a kickboard no matter their skill level. A beginner can use a kickboard to gain confidence, while a competitive swimmer can use a kickboard for training. Anyone who is interested in improving can benefit from adding a kickboard to their swim accessories.

Q. How can a kickboard help lower my race time?
A.
If you’re a competitive swimmer, a kickboard allows you to fine-tune your stroke and build muscle in areas you might be inadvertently neglecting. Many swimmers focus on arms and body position, but the kick is what can help you shave off that time so you can advance to the next level.

Q. I'm not a competitive swimmer. Is a kickboard of any value to me?
A.
Definitely. Swimming is a low-impact aerobic activity that allows you to elevate your heart rate without putting any strain or pressure on your joints. Using a kickboard helps you to learn body position and balance while in the water even if you’re doing leisurely laps.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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