Granted, the butterfly stroke is quickly exhausting and among the most difficult swimming techniques an athlete can learn. Then again, mastering its unique and spectacular movements promises to be a lot of fun and provide you with the edge you need during competitive swimming.
What does the butterfly stroke entail?
The butterfly stroke implies holding your thighs closely together and gliding with the knees released, redirecting movement through the hips. As your hips rise, you press down with the upper body and while you push down with the legs, the upper body is elevated to the surface. Due to the specific motions, the stroke has often been compared with a dolphin’s way of swimming.
The best way to learn the butterfly stroke implies practicing the movements individually. In order to perform this stroke with ease, a swimmer needs to study and practice several sequences included in the technique first, namely:
– Achieving balance without the use of your arms
Also dubbed the gliding phase, achieving body balance without the help of your arms is critical for correctly performing the butterfly stroke. Keep in mind that this is the only stroke in swimming that entails bringing both arms behind the body. Therefore, its role is to teach your how to regain control of your feet and your core muscles, both being critical to proper undulation.
To start the movement, step forward with your arms by the sides of your body and inhale gently. Lean your body forward and start exhaling lightly into the water. Once in the water, drift off into a glide while keeping your eyes down and without pushing actively. Try to maintain this position and refrain from moving your trunk or your limbs until you count to four; then, press your head down and tuck up quickly to regain your feet without any assistance from your arms.
To avoid injuries, make sure to keep arms, neck and shoulders relaxed at all times. In addition, be constantly alert about your position and refrain from pulling the head back or pushing off from the floor to regain your feet.
– The upright wave
The role of training to perform an upright wave correctly is to learn how to move your upper body – particularly the torso – as one unit. Although the movement appears difficult, rest assured that the uplift of the water and the associated resistance facilitates the motion.
If you prefer the opening stance, then tilt your upper body from the hips, while bending your knees slightly and keeping your palms facing to rear. As you sweep your arms gently behind the body, move the hips forward and keep your upper body backwards. Because the body needs to move as one unit, remember to initiate the motion from your hips and maintain your shoulders relaxed.
On a side note, if you prefer water threading, then make sure to maintain your heels in contact with the floor while tilting your torso. While performing the actual sequence, remember to move up on to tiptoes and keep your eyes forward. To prevent unwanted accidents, avoid pulling too vigorously with your arms or arching your back.
– Waving with your arms extended
Waving with your arms extended is basically the movement you’ll perform at the start of every stroke. The technique implies drifting into a glide while maintaining your head bowed, eyes front, gentle breathing and, of course, your arms extended. To glide you need to allow your hips to rise by pressing down with the chest and using the crown of your head to guide your body forward and down. As you look up again, let your legs push down and your body float up.
Take note that the upward movement is passive, while the downward is active. Therefore, redirect your look down to slide forward for a couple of seconds before you regain your feet. To prevent cramps and injuries, avoid over-bending your knees or keeping your hips too stiff.
– Waving with your arms trailing
Once you master the previous technique, you are ready to collapse your chest and push down actively to drive your hips upwards as your legs extend. While your hips move up and down, allow your knees to bend and use the up thrust force to lift your upper body. Remember to regain your feet each time you elevate the upper body.
At this point, you should learn how to let your arms loose by your sides and control the movement entirely with your hips and by lengthening your legs. To avoid straining your back, do not arch it excessively, over-bend the knees or lift your feet out of the water.
You need to be patient and focused on your training
Learning how to perform the butterfly stroke correctly entails practicing to develop an effective dolphin kick and mastering the art of body undulation. Take note that the stroke relies on the propulsion generated by the combined actions of the upper and lower body. Because learning to perform the combined movements effectively takes some practice, patience is highly advised in this case.