Efficient Finning Techniques

By Nora Valdés
Scuba Finning Techniques

In this article we want to show you another fundamental technique for divers to improve their skills.

A diver must be able to move through the water using his fins as the main source of propulsion, to increase efficiency and minimize impact on the environment. The use of arms and hands add very little to a diver’s ability to swim, on the other hand it will increase the chances to get overexerted and therefore, use more air while diving.

So, what finning techniques should you focus on and when to use each one?

Keep reading to find the answers!


The flutter kick is the basic finning style used by most divers, which is similar to that used in freediving as well.

Pay attention to 90 percent of all divers, and you will see that they use the flutter. This was the only technique used, until recently.

Its popularity is due to the fact that it is the strongest of all finning styles and generates a lot of propulsion. Furthermore, in the early days of diving, prior to the invention of BCD, speed was the primary way to maintain buoyancy.

The advantage of this kick is its forcefulness. It is great for moving at very high speed or when fighting a current. The vertical movement, up and down, of the legs is very useful when diving on a coral covered wall, since there is less risk of kicking corals or other creatures.

The disadvantage is closely related to the advantage. The forcefulness of the kick is quite strenuous and increases air consumption. Also, vertical movement can raise a lot of mud if you dive near a loose bottom. When you dive in open water, this is annoying, particularly for divers who follow you. If you are cave diving, it can be dangerous.

In some cases, continuous movement can make you focus on controlling buoyancy, rather than the proper finning technique.

In conclusion, this is a fast and powerful diving style, good for when you’re fighting a current, for short bursts of speed, and for diving near vertical structures.

The Flutter Kick


The frog kick is a large and wide kick, in which you must use all the strength of the legs, it is a good style for diving in open water. However, because movement and propulsion are not continuous, a good buoyancy technique is needed.

In this case the movement is horizontal, which means that when you swim near the bottom, there is minimal disturbance to the bottom, this will maintain visibility for any diver coming after you. However, due to the width of the kick, it is not recommended for caves or when diving near a wall.

This kick, combined with good buoyancy, will quickly become your preferred style once you get used to it, and will likely decrease your air consumption significantly, meaning you can extend your dive time.

With this fin kick you should also pay special attention to the type of fins you’re using. Since it’s not that powerful as the flutter kick, you will find it difficult to perform with split fins that are already designed to ask for less effort or, on the other hand, with hard blades that might need stronger legs and muscle to displace better.

Bottom line: It’s an environmentally friendly and powerful kick, which can be extremely efficient, especially if you master the kick and glide aspect. It is ideal for diving in open water in gentle currents or near the bottom. Not recommended in strong currents or near walls.

Scuba Finning Techniques
The Frog Kick


Also known as high frog kick, short frog kick, and bent knee cave diver kick, uses smaller movements, mostly of the lower leg and foot, which makes it suitable for use in confined spaces, as it is less likely to damage the environment, but it produces limited thrust.

It is economical on air consumption over time due to a low energy requirement, and is suitable for relaxed cruising at low speeds and over silt. It is a preferred technique for technical divers and cave diving.

The modified frog kick arches the back and retains slightly bent knees during the power stroke, which keeps the thrust further away from the bottom when swimming above silt.

The bent knees make movement very limited. The kick comes only from a small movement in the hips, combined with the ankle kicks. With this technique, propulsion is limited compared to the previous two kicks, but it also reduces tension and air consumption.

The small and limited movement of the legs makes it ideal for diving in narrow areas, such as the remains of shipwrecks and caves.

However, because it is a very low-powered kick, this technique has its limitations when swimming against a current.

Bottom line: A minimal impact kick, ideal for tight environments and near very muddy bottoms. Plus, it helps you slow down during dives and maximize available air.

The Modified Frog Kick


Also known as reverse kick, back kick, back finning, reverse fin and reverse frog kick

The backward kick is used for holding position or backing away when too close while taking photos or approaching a reef or other divers, backing out of confined spaces, maintaining distance from the shotline during decompression stops and similar maneuvers.

It requires fairly stiff paddle fins to be reasonably effective. It is a relatively difficult technique to master, and many divers cannot do it at all, and rely on sculling with the arms for these maneuvers.

The movements are larger than those of the modified frog and flutter kicks, and the fins are more likely to contact the surroundings in a confined space.

In conclusion: the reverse kick takes a lot of practice to master, being very useful when having to maintain a certain distance from other divers or aquatic life, specially when taking photos.

Backward Kick In Action

Happy Bubbles!

Nora Valdes

About the author: Nora is a dive instructor at Deefer Diving. Originally from Patagonia, she fell in love with Carriacou when she first came here 3 years ago. It has now become a home for her.

For more information about diving in Carriacou and the diving courses we offer, please visit our website,