View Full Version : Teaching myself butterfly

August 6th, 2012, 11:21 PM
Hey Guys!
So I've been trying to work on my technique this summer and I've made a lot of progress in my freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke mainly because I've been working with an instructor. However, we didn't have a chance to get to butterfly, and I'm really considering joining a local club team in the fall, but I don't want to embarrass myself by being unable to swim this stroke at all.

Anyway, I was hoping that you guys may be able to tell me how I should go about teaching myself and what things to really be careful about. If you guys have any videos that you think are really good, I'd love to see those too.


Bill Sive
August 7th, 2012, 12:53 AM
Go ahead and join your local club/team. Who cares if you cannot do the Butterfly. If you join your local club/team then you can obtain some coaching in this area.

It took me a year to teach myself Butterfly. Its not the best Butterfly in the world, but I won't get DQ'd doing it.

You took lessons, that's great. I've never had a swim lesson. I taught myself Butterfly by watching other swimmers underwater, watching Butterfly videos on U-Tube, asking a lot of questions of my fellow swimmers who swim Butterfly. Then just go out and do it. Practice, practice, practice. It will come to you, just give it time.

Good luck.

August 7th, 2012, 06:51 AM
Learn the kick first. Try a front mount snorkel with hands at your side. Once you can do sets of those add in the arms. If timing is still off, add just one arm.

August 7th, 2012, 07:45 AM
Taught myself just enough fly. I think that you have to be in really, really good shape to learn fly, less so to swim it once you know how.

Someone else posted this drill about a year ago and it helped me get the body motion down:
Butterfly NAD Drill - Slow Execution - YouTube

From there I swam a lot of one-arm fly and freestyle arms with butterfly kick. Some people learn by swimming three strokes left arm only, three strokes right arm only and three strokes full butterfly. I had no luck with that, but you might.

Also be prepared to swim extremely short distances of fly - like two or three strokes. It's so taxing at first that the stroke breaks down quickly. I learned a lot swimming in the ocean, of all places. I would body surf to shore then swim 2-3 strokes of fly to get back in position. Doing that for a half-hour or so was not particularly taxing, but helped me understand how to coordinate everything.

August 7th, 2012, 09:10 AM

August 7th, 2012, 09:21 AM
Great name ScienceGeek! Join the team, the other swimmers will be able to help you. To make it less tiring can try using 'breaststroke' or whip kick interchangeably with the dolphin kick. It is only a USMS rule. Appendix B MS1.2 You can downloaded a zipped PDF of the 2012 rule book to see what other areas of your stroke are within the rules. http://www.usms.org/rules/

August 7th, 2012, 09:53 AM
I don't want to embarrass myself by being unable to swim this stroke at all.

On the topic of Fly - I cant help. On the topic of being embarrassed I can offer some insight. I watched the local Masters club workout thru the glass windows of the pool for 2 months while I tried to get myself ready to join them. The best thing that happened to me was when my job changed my schedule and I could not swim when the pool was open in the evenings. My choice was mornings with the club or toss the idea. I was very nervous to say the least - These were Athletes... They made me feel welcome and there was (and still is) never a negative vibe from our crew. The progress you will make in such a short period of time after jumping in with an organized, coached Masters team will astound you.

Take the plunge - Its worth it!

August 7th, 2012, 10:10 AM
I love this one-arm fly drill. Here's a vid. You can also search YouTube for "one arm butterfly drill" to see other examples.


I do this drill all the time. It's good for rhythm. I do it either "3+3" (3 strokes on the right arm, then 3 on the left) per length in a 25 yard pool, or "4+4" for a little more speed (not that I'm fast). It's much easier than full stroke fly.

I also like "1+1+1" drill, which is one stroke right arm, one stroke left arm, one full stroke. For a beginner I'd suggest doing both drills with fins.

On fins -- For beginners, a big obstacle to learning fly is that you can only do maybe one or two strokes at a time. It's hard to learn something that way. Fins allow beginners to do more strokes, and so allow more rapid progress. The danger is of course becoming dependent on the fins. Eventually you have to take them off!

Be patient! It takes a long time to learn fly! Be persistent!

August 7th, 2012, 03:05 PM
Watch youtube videos of great butterflyers. especially underwater
then copy their technique

Get one on one lessons from a good swimmer/instructor/coach
they can watch you swim and give you specific pointers then watch you attempt to do them, & give you more pointers
you need to learn what right feels like

Read Swim Faster faster & apply a few ideas to your training

make a video of you swimming fly
put it on youtube, then
provide a link here and
ask folks to watch and give you suggestions

Lift weights to get stronger

Swim often to get in better shape, train mostly freestyle,
work to improve your dolphin kick
Improve your streamline dolphin kick (SDK)

Have some one time you for a 25 fly swim and 25 SDK
tell us what they are

read posts in the butterfly lane
The Butterfly Lane

Kevin in MD
August 7th, 2012, 03:57 PM
I work with adult onset swimmers all the time. The best resource for learning butterfly from A to Z is the old book and video "Swimming Made Easy" from the folks at Total Immersion. You will need to check amazon and half.com for the out of print titles but it will be worth it.

As I said it is A to Z, you start here, then go to this then this and at the end you are swimming fly.

There isn't another source that puts it all in one place like this does. In fact their newer fly swim program from the same people isn't as good in my opinion. You can find lots of tips dozens of various drills, but to me this is the only thing to take someone starting from scratch and get them there.

Good luck, enjoy it.

August 8th, 2012, 02:05 AM
Joining a team may not be a very cost effective or quick way to learn butterfly. I joined a team a year ago (Iím an adult onset swimmer) and I still canít swim butterfly. While swimming with a group is fun, challenging and great for fitness, I have not found it very efficient for learning. The simple truth is that the coach only has time for a few comments during practice on the storks you do know and will suggest that you swim breast during practice in place of fly.

Rob Copeland
August 9th, 2012, 12:23 PM
Watch youtube videos of great butterflyers. especially underwater
then copy their techniqueIf you are a USMS member, you can also check out learn to swim butterfly videoís from the USMS Video Library http://www.usms.org/coach/videos.php