As mentioned, swimming is the most technical of all the disciplines we coach and of all the individual strokes Butterfly (Fly) is the one that's hardest for novice swimmers to time correctly. The reason is that Fly is undulating, but unlike breaststroke the undulations aren't led by the movement of your arms, more they occur with the arms in a specific rhythm.
What's more, most swim teachers teach the butterfly kick as a wiggle and this simply isn't how butterfly is performed. Effectively in Fly you want to kick your head into the water and kick your head out of the water.
So, the head leads the stroke into and out of the undulations and the legs and arms are used to drive the head out of the water in order to breathe. To practise that simply take a look at the video to the right.
The video not only illustrates the rhythm of the stroke but more importantly the fact that you have to both kick your head into the water and out again.
To to that you have to have the corect rhythm and often singing or counting can help. In fact, if you're a musician or dancer you're one step ahead of everyone else - simply count a 2 beat rhythm and follow the beat to better fly, we find that the Postman Pat theme helps youngsters get the idea of a rhythmic butterfly better.
It's easy to get your butterfly arms wrong. What we want to achieve is a full stroke, holding the water as far forward as possible and keeping hold of that water right through, under our body, to the exit by our thigs.
The problem again is that we need to breathe and the impulse to push our heads out of the water is so strong that we often miss the catch on the water and angle our forearms downwards, instead of backwards. The video immediately right illustrates this problem for you.
The video below shows a drill that is designed to help cure this problem. It can be initially difficult to time the drill correctly but it's well worth perservering with, as it develops the drive through and forward propulsion you need for good, fast, butterfly.
Buttefly legs must kick together, odd legged fly will get you disqualified in a race.
We have already said that you need to kick your head in and then kick your head out, maintaining a flat body throughout your stroke. A large number of young flyers will kick their head in and then quickly kick again - causing a problem when they need to breathe. If you have your head kicked in and then kick again or (worse still) don't kick a second kick, all that's left is for you to bend your body to breath.
To develop the correct 2 beat kick it needs to be practiced. All of your drills should be done with the 2 beat rhythm and the drill below will help you develop a strong 2 beat kick that will keep you flatter over 100m and 200m races.