Parenting Tips

Butterfly Swim Technique: A Step-By-Step Guide

Butterfly Swim Technique: A Step-By-Step Guide
11 Jun 2024

Butterfly swimming is a mesmerizing stroke known for its grace and power in the water. While it may seem daunting at first glance, mastering the butterfly technique is achievable with dedication and practice. 

In this article, we'll delve into what the butterfly swim technique entails, provide a step-by-step breakdown on how to execute it effectively, and offer tips on how to improve your butterfly skills.

Understanding the Butterfly Swim Technique

The butterfly stroke is characterized by a simultaneous movement of both arms, resembling the flapping of wings, coupled with an undulating dolphin kick. It requires considerable upper body strength, core stability, and coordination to execute efficiently. 

The butterfly is often considered one of the most demanding strokes in competitive swimming, but it's fluid motion and rhythmic flow make it a favorite among enthusiasts.

Step-by-Step Guide to Butterfly Swim Technique

Many individuals continue to face challenges when attempting the butterfly swim technique. However, fear not, as a step-by-step guide exists to aid in mastering this intricate stroke. Here’s the further explanations:

1. Body Positioning

Before initiating the stroke, it's crucial to establish the correct body position in the water. Lie face down with your body parallel to the surface, keeping it as streamlined as possible. Extend your arms forward, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing downward. Ensure that your legs are together, and your feet are pointed to minimize drag.

2. The Pull

The pull phase of the butterfly stroke begins with the initiation of the arm movement. Start by pressing your chest down slightly while simultaneously bending your elbows and sweeping your arms outward. 

As your hands enter the water, initiate a powerful circular motion, drawing them inward towards your hips. Focus on maintaining a high elbow position throughout the pull to maximize propulsion and minimize resistance.

3. Master The Dolphin Kick

Learn to master the dolphin kick, which refers to the undulating motion of the legs utilized in the butterfly stroke, resembling the kick of a dolphin or mermaid underwater. Ensure both legs move in unison and remain pressed together to maintain water pressure efficiently. 

In the butterfly stroke, execute two kicks for each stroke of the arms. However, these kicks differ in intensity. The initial kick, known as the small kick, coincides with the formation of the keyhole shape with the arms. 

As the arms generate forward momentum, the small kick requires less force. Conversely, the subsequent kick, termed the big kick, occurs during the recovery phase when the arms emerge from the water. 

Given the loss of momentum during this phase, a stronger kick is necessary to propel the body forward. A common mistake among novices is maintaining a uniform kicking pattern without distinguishing between small and big kicks.

4. The Breath

Timing your breaths correctly is crucial in butterfly swimming. As your hands reach the peak of the pull beneath your body, lift your head slightly above the water to take a quick breath. It's essential to keep this movement minimal to avoid disrupting your body's streamline position. Exhale gradually as your face returns to the water to prepare for the next breath.

5. The Recovery

After completing the pull phase, begin the recovery by sweeping your arms out of the water in a circular motion. Keep your elbows high as you extend your arms forward above the water, aiming to create minimal resistance. Focus on maintaining a fluid and continuous motion to prepare for the next stroke.

6. The Kick

Simultaneous with the arm movement, execute a powerful dolphin kick to provide additional propulsion and momentum. Start by pressing your chest down slightly, engaging your core muscles, and initiating the kick from your hips. 

Make a fluid whipping motion with your legs, keeping them together and your feet pointed. The kick should originate from the hips and emphasize a continuous undulating motion to complement the arm stroke.

7. Timing and Rhythm

Achieving optimal timing and rhythm between the arm stroke and the kick is essential for efficient butterfly swimming. Focus on synchronizing the movements of your arms and legs, ensuring that they work together harmoniously to propel you through the water. Practice maintaining a smooth and rhythmic motion, coordinating the pull, breath, recovery, and kick in a fluid sequence.

8. Practice Drills

Incorporate various drills into your training regimen to improve technique, build strength, and enhance endurance in butterfly swimming. These drills may include butterfly kick with a kickboard to focus on leg strength and propulsion, single-arm butterfly to isolate and refine arm technique, and butterfly with fins to increase speed and power.

Need Help To Improve Your Swimming Technique?

If you find that your children are drawn to the world of swimming, as parents, consider enrolling them in a swimming program at Rockstar Academy. Renowned for its excellence in sports and performing arts, Rockstar Academy offers a wide range of physical activity programs, including swimming. 

Their curriculum, which includes participation in RockOlympics, provides an incredible learning experience for students to explore their true potential. Moreover, Rockstar Academy offers a free trial class for those interested, so don't hesitate to reach out and discover the exciting opportunities awaiting your children. 

Contact Rockstar Academy today and start your children’s journey in the pool!


Is butterfly swimming suitable for beginners?

While butterfly swimming can be challenging for beginners, with patience and consistent practice, it can be mastered over time. It's essential to focus on building foundational skills and gradually progressing to more advanced techniques.

How can I improve my butterfly kick?

Practice butterfly kick drills focusing on generating power from the hips and maintaining a fluid motion. Incorporate ankle flexibility exercises and experiment with different kick tempos to find what works best for you.

What should I do if I struggle with breathing during butterfly swimming?

Focus on timing your breaths with the arm stroke, taking quick and efficient breaths during the recovery phase. Practice breath control drills and gradually increase your lung capacity through cardiovascular exercises and interval training.

Can I use fins to improve my butterfly technique?

Yes, using fins can help improve propulsion, refine technique, and build leg strength. However, it's essential to use them in moderation and focus on maintaining proper form to avoid dependency on the fins.