Treading water is a skill that can be learned quickly or gradually. In any case, it’s a worthwhile skill because it features several techniques that are effective in any situation.
For example, have you ever wondered how water polo players tread water with their hands occupied?
If so, then we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll show you how to tread water without using your hands.
We’ll also talk look at why you should tread water and how long you can do it for.
Why Do People Tread Water?
Treading water is an energy-efficient way to remain in the same spot in the water. Many times people will use a combination of their hands and legs to tread.
Treading water is a skill recognized by professional swimmers, water polo players, and even lifeguards. It’s a useful skill to have when a professional is swimming in open water and needs to stop for orientation.
Treading also comes in handy when a swimmer swallows water and needs to stop to catch their breath. However, treading water is a survival technique that everyone, not just athletes, should be aware of.
All treading techniques aim to keep your head above water while swimming vertically. This comes in handy in a variety of situations, such as swimming in deep water.
Treading keeps your body from sinking and thus keeps you from drowning.
How to Tread Water With Just Legs
Generally speaking, treading is all about keeping your body upright in the water. First, you must remain calm so that your muscles can relax enough to move freely.
Then, you should regulate your breathing and slow it down to avoid wasting energy. Finally, when it comes to body movements, your hands and legs should work together to keep you afloat.
Nonetheless, you can only use your hands or your legs. So, here are three techniques for treading water without using your hands:
1. Breaststroke Kick (Frog Kick)
This treading technique is ideal for long periods as it’s gentle on the legs and thus prevents fatigue. While doing the breaststroke, keep your hands relaxed and let your legs do all of the work.
You can either let your arms float beside you or clasp them together in front of you. Then, with your knees bent, move your legs in a circular motion.
Here’s how to work on your breaststroke kick in the pool:
- Turn your back to the wall and relax your elbow on the pool’s side
- Maintain an upright posture by keeping your legs straight and touching each other
- Bend your knees and bring your heels toward your glutes while your legs are still touching
- Begin moving your legs apart while keeping your knees bent
- Flex your feet inward when separating your legs (point your toes inward)
- Extend your feet outward toward the pool’s bottom, then return to point three
When you repeat these moves, you create an upward force with your body.
You can also practice this technique while holding on to a floater or a noodle.
2. Eggbeater Kick
The eggbeater kicks can be challenging for beginners, but they’re the most efficient treading technique. They function similarly to an eggbeater, as the name implies.
While your hands are outstretched beside you, both legs move in circular motions but in opposite directions. That is to create an upward pressure to keep you floating.
Because moving your legs in different directions can be confusing, start practicing while sitting in a chair:
- Sit at the edge of a chair with most of your thighs unsupported
- Keep your knees as far apart as possible from each other
- Flex your right feet and begin moving your lower leg counterclockwise while your knees are bent at 90°
- Keep your right thigh still while performing these motions
- Pause and switch to the left leg, but make the motions clockwise
- Begin rotating both legs in different directions at the same time
The next step is to practice these movements in the pool. Sit on the pool’s edge and repeat the steps you did while sitting in the chair.
Finally, get in the water and follow these tips to improve your eggbeater kick:
- Begin by floating with breaststroke kicks
- While alternating kicks, transition by bringing your thighs parallel to the surface
- Maintain a wide gap between your knees
- Change your kicks to the side rather than to the bottom
- Start rotating both legs in opposite directions
3. Flutter Kick
The flutter technique is much simpler but more exhausting than the previous two treading techniques. It’s simple to remember because it’s just alternating kicks while maintaining a straight posture.
However, altering those kicks while your arms are outstretched and your feet are flexed downwards can be quite tiring.
As a result, if you need to tread water for long durations, it’ll be more convenient to use other techniques.
Here’s how to work on your flutter kick in the pool:
- Practice in deep water where your legs can’t touch the bottom
- Face the pool’s wall and grab the pool’s edge
- Maintain a straight posture with your toes pointing downward
- Start alternating short kicks in a scissor motion
- To stay afloat, you can slightly bend your knees and kick slower
What’s the Hand-Based Treading Technique?
That’ll be sculling! The sculling technique is primarily dependent on the movement of your hands underwater.
Leg movements are kept to a minimum in this technique. If you want, you can combine sculling with another technique that relies on leg movements.
Here’s how to practice sculling effectively:
- Head to the shallow end of the pool
- Immerse your hands in water, keeping them outstretched to the side
- Flex your wrists and face your palms toward each other
- Move your hands toward one another
- Just before touching, return your hands to their original position with your palms facing outward
If you’re having trouble remembering this technique, there’s a very clever representation to help you. Imagine you’re sweeping a dirty surface in front of you with your lower arm and palms.
How Long Can You Tread Water?
This is heavily dependent on the individual’s level of fitness. If you’re averagely fit, you can tread water for up to four hours.
The number of hours increases as your form and training improve. In fact, if you’ve had proper treading training and are in good shape, you may be able to tread for up to 10 hours.
And, while it may sound crazy, it’s possible for some people to float vertically in water without using hand or legs at all! This could extend the length of time that you remain upright as you’re not having to use much energy.
Keep your body relaxed at all times. This is a tip you should remember regardless of which treading technique you use.
A stiff body won’t provide the necessary upward pressure or fluid movements to keep you afloat.
Knowing how to tread water without hands will help you feel more confident when swimming in deep water.
So, work on improving your treading skills, and remember that practice makes perfect!
Husband and father of three (actually, four if you include the pool). I’m an avid DIY-er and weekend warrior that enjoys taking up new projects around the house to help us maximize leisure right at home. I enjoy researching and sharing various tips, tricks and knowledge to help others make their home an oasis.