View Full Version : Butterfly drills?

July 23rd, 2002, 04:56 PM

I need help with my butterfly stroke. Does anyone know of any good drills that would help with the timing of breathing? I've been told that I breath too late in my stroke and lift my head too high. When I try to modify my stroke, I get a lung full of water. Any tips?


July 23rd, 2002, 10:31 PM
I find that butterfly is, more than anything, a rhythm stroke. You need to feel the vertical axis rotation (technical gibberish for feeling the wave motion). Practice one arm fly - it's OK to breath on the side - and really emphasize the dolphin/wave feel.

In full stroke, breathe only every two or three strokes. In the non-breathing strokes, try to get that wavy feel back.

If your head is lifting too high, you may not be finishing your stroke. Practice any drill you do for freestyle stroke finish with fly. Think of lunging out of the water - look for the end of the pool - then finishing with the wave back into the pool.

All in all, three good stokes are better than thirty crappy ones. Just do what you can with your best technique, then go to one arm or kicking drills.

Good luck!

July 24th, 2002, 10:00 AM
when you breath on butterfly the best way to think about it is that you're hiding your breathing. i don't actually lift my head to look forward, i just kick and pull harder to lift myself up and actually breathe with my face looking down - this does take some practice but is worth it in time stakes, because it means that your head is in the right position to get back in the water in time before your hands. this way you can breath much more often without losing any rhythm. you should be breathing when your arms are behind you, just starting to come up out of the water and your head should be back in the water by the time your arms are half way over.

when i teach kids butterfly i get them to do it with fins on. this enables you to get the correct motion much easier (and ensures you are doing the right sort of kick, which is of course what butterfly is all about!)

i'd disagree with lexa, i would never encourage anyone to breath to the side when learning or practicing butterfly, it doesn't encourage the right action. but i do agree that doing a couple of really good strokes is much more beneficial than a few lengths of awful stroke when you're dying!

July 24th, 2002, 10:02 AM
If you do one arm fly drill, keep the arm straight like it really is doing butterfly.

Do some 25s fly with lots of rest. The more tired you are, the harder it is to concentrate and the more your stroke will degrade.
I put together a pretty nice fly for my 400 IM and 90% of my fly was sets of 25s. Anything longer for me and my fly gets really bad. No point in practicing that.

If 25s are too far, do some pushoffs with 6 strokes, breathing every 2, and then swim easy to the wall. Anything where you can do good stroke.

Swim fast,

July 24th, 2002, 10:53 AM
I also was breathing late ... but the root of my problem was stretching out for too long when I first dove into the water (with the stroke) ... I was delaying the start of my arm stroke by taking a nice long stretchy glide forward. When I really start my arm stroke right away it sort of shoots me along and my head just pops up and into the next stroke and my arms follow nicely. Maybe this will help you. Good luck!!!

July 24th, 2002, 01:18 PM
I like to do 3 single arm (left), then one full stroke (no breathing), then 3 single arm (right).

Here I am using the single arm to breathe/rest and anticipate to go on to 2 single arm on each with one full stroke (no breathing), then 1 single arm etc. until I then start to be able to incorporate a breathe to the front in full stroke every other cycle, still using single arm to rest/breathe until eventually I can swim full stroke (no single arm).

Like GZoltners mentions it is important to recover single arm fly with a straight arm to atleast get the one arm action correct, otherwise it is easy to get into a sort of single arm free/fly swim thing going on..

I have been told that fly with a kick board is a big NO NO! - not getting the right motion and possibly injury to the back (any comments?)

July 24th, 2002, 01:54 PM
I agree probably side-breathing is not for everyone. But there has been side-breathers in butterfly, Mel Stewart and Valerie Lee both were effective with side breathing. I believe that Misty Hyman is another. Valerie Lee was a top butterflyer in the 1970's. Anyways, if you are not that good at butterfly yet I recommend doing every other or third stroke breathing doing 25 yard swims and 50 swims. I recommend doing it for 100 yards and part of your 200 yard when you are a lot better.

Matt S
July 24th, 2002, 08:22 PM

Go to this site (http://www.h2oustonswims.org/frames/home.html); it's the H2Ouston Swim Team web page, their articles section. Read the two articles "Slip Sliddin' Away" and "Vive le Pappillion", preferably in that order.


July 25th, 2002, 12:59 AM
I agree with the one arm drill, what I do is 3 right followed by 3 left and then the rest of the way to the end with full stroke. I also always keep my other arm out in front.
I try to never use a board for kicking, I find if I do my kicking under the water it gives you a much closer body motion, I try not to use boards in any of the strokes as it does hurt my shoulders.
I also find breathing every second stroke works much better, your body seems to flow so much easlier.