Butterfly drills, by using my practices you can improve your technique
Butterfly drills/ introduction
Butterfly drills are very useful for improving your stroke, by practicing arms and leg separately it is possible
to improve your technique, body position as well as your stamina. You need an understanding of the stroke and
that flexibility, grace and power are required. You have to also dispel the thought of pushing and pulling like
the other three strokes. Instead think of the movement of a dolphin moving through the water.
You will also discover that butterfly drills are mainly done without the use of hand floats or kick boards.
Sometimes using a kick board to practice butterfly legs too long can cause lower back pain. The body also needs to be undulating
whilst kicking the legs so the arms are usually sculling with your arms in front of you rather than holding a float.
Butterfly swimming is the less commonly used stroke out of the four swimming strokes and mainly used competitively
rather than for pleasure . It is also the less taught stoke as well, it is the second fastest competitive sroke because
it allows a long propulsive arm action as well as an undulating leg kick which allows good propulsion whilst your
arms are recovering.
When swimming butterfly you need to remember the key points which are as follows:
You are in a prone position face down
Undulating (dolphin action)
Keep your shoulders level
Your legs are simultaneous
the downbeat leg action is what provides you with the propulsion
Your upbeat is recovery ready for the next downbeat
Both upbeat and downbeat are initiated from your hips
Your legs are straight at the start of your upbeat with a slight bend at the end of your upbeat
Your legs will bend as well as straighten in the downbeat
Lower legs accelerate in the downbeat
Make sure that your toes are pointed and in toeing
Overall your legs contribute about 30 percent of propulsion
Buttrfly drills/ To learn or read in more detail about butterfly swimming click onto this link to see my page which will cover the techniques in more detail
Butterfly drills/ Arms, entry
Entry into the water thumb and first finger first with your elbow slightly bent
Make sure your arms are in line with your shoulders
Is just below the surface of the water
It is also outside your shoulder line
you have four main hand sweeps which are out, down, in, up/out.
The pitch of your hand will change to accommodate the sweeps
Your elbow should remain high at the end of the downsweep
Your arms make a shape of a key hole when under the water
The arms of butterfly is similar to breastroke and front crawl to look at
When you release the water when beginning the over arm recovery it is released past your thigh
Your elbow will be slightly bent on the exit with your little finger exiting first on your hand
A low sweeping recovery
Your elbow bend will increase ready for the entry
Breathing for butterfly
You can either slightly lift your head to breathe or turn your head to the side
Breathing in will take place during the up/outsweep of your arms
You should return your head to the water as your hands recover
Explosive breathing is the most beneficial method of breathing
You should kick two beats per arm cycle
The first kick should take place as your hands enter the outsweep then the second as your hands are on the up/outsweep
Another way to remember is to kick your arms into the water then kick your arms out
Breathing can either take place every one or two arm cycles.
The first butterfly drill you can try a push and glide then undulate in a prone position with your arms out infront of you. A push
and glide is what it suggests, you simply you hold the side of the pool and push off and glide without swimming full stroke until
you run out of momentum.
Try to relax in the water as you are doing this drill, get a feel for the water and the undulation of the whole body. You should
flow through the water. Try imagining that you are submerging under a floating log and emerging back up from under it again.
Butterfly drills/ leg action
The first leg action drill you could try is legs only sculling, this means doing the full leg action with your arms in front of you doing a sculling action.
This will encourage you to put an emphasis on your leg action whilst still allowing undulation of the rest of your body.
Next try undulation at the bottom of the pool with your arms to your sides, like a dolphin you will kick your legs simultaneously.
Another variation of this drill is to do the same drill but then change position whilst underwater or do each one individually. So roll
from front to back to the side whilst undulating.
These butterfly drills will help to develop your undulation by emphasizing the upward phase of the action.
This butterfly drill is performed on your back with your arms extended, then kick your butterfly legs undulating your body.
This butterfly drill encourages a vigorous extension of your knees, your feet will flip up to the surface of the water encouraging
good hip movement.
The last butterfly drills is a simple single arm pull with the other arm extended in front of you whilst breathing to the side.
This drill improves your leg kick especially if you are mainly swimming with a major and minor kick. This is especially good for the
minor kick. It also keeps the hips close to the surface and improves your entry technique.
Butterfly drills/ arms
To begin with try practicing your arms standing in the pool going over and over the technique until you feel it is perfect. Remembering
the points that I went through in the introduction.
Once you feel that the stroke is feeling good try arms whilst walking across the pool.
This will give you a feel for the water and performing the arms whilst being able to concentrate on what you are doing without added
distraction of kicking your legs as well
Now try a push and glide adding one or two arm strokes as you go.
This will get you into the correct body position to begin with and get you into the mode of swimming butterfly arms without going all the way across the pool.
The next butterfly drill is quite fun and involves jumping and diving. You begin standing in the pool leaning slightly forward with your arms to your side but
slightly back. With your knees bent you jump forward throwing your arms in front of you in a diving position. You dive underwater head first. Your arms will
then head for the pool bottom and touch the bottom, your legs and feet then catch up with the momentum so you end up in crouching position on the pool bottom
with your legs bent and arms straight touching the pool bottom similar to a leapfrog position. You then spring back to the surface arms outstretched to break the surface of the water.
As you come back to the surface you dive back down to the bottom and repeat across the pool remembering to take a breath after each dive.
This butterfly drill gives you the feel of dolphin movements it is good for developing confidence and is very good for beginners and earlier practices.
Butterfly drills/ arms with pull buoys
Butterfly drills/ If you are not familiar with pull buoys then click onto this link to look at my page about swimming equipment which includes floats
Put the pull buoy between your legs above the knees then holding your legs together swim concentrating on your butterfly arms
without thinking about your legs. This is a very good drill to practice to prefect your arm stroke for butterfly or any other
This butterfly drill will help you to concentrate on your entry and pull, your head flows with the arms. It also improves your body position in the water.
The last butterfly drill is a pattern swim this involves three right pulls with the arms along with the normal butterfly leg kick then three left arm pulls
and finally three full stroke pulls and then start again across the pool. When you are pulling with the one arm the opposite arm will be held straight in front
of you gliding through the water.
This butterfly drill alleviates the initial fear of the stroke and helps to develop undulation.
Butterfly drills/ breathing
There are a few ways in which you can improve your breathing when practicing your butterfly. The first and most obvious is to simply stand in shoulder
depth water and practice arm action with breathing to the front, also try this to the side to see which style of breathing works best for you. Then try the full
stoke without the breathing then try full stroke with one breath then two and so on until you are breathing on every stroke.
Another variation is to try the breathing on every other stroke, this is simply experimenting with different types of breathing and finding out what works best for you.
What works well for one swimmer does not necessarily work for another so keep trying different methods until you find your pattern of breathing.
Some advice for breathing and general butterfly, raise your chin so that so your windpipe is not too restricted. Most muscles used in the pull and recovery are attached to your ribcage
Try to relax keeping your shoulders dropped to avoid breathlessness keeping your strokes rhythmical. Try not to over-extend to make yourself tire.
Over emphasize your undulation of your body beginning with your head and shoulders moving through to hips, knees as well as ankles. Think of your body moving through anchored arms.
Thank you for reading my page about butterfly drills if you are interested in other aspects of swimming then why not have a look at my other pages on my site
Thanks again Dale Dudley.
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