Learning to swim butterfly — or perfecting your technique — takes time. There’s no quick fix. The best solution? Incorporating butterfly-specific drills into your workouts and putting in the effort to build strength, rhythm and power.
To help you refine your dolphin kick, pull and stroke tempo, try these 5 drills in your butterfly swim workouts.
1. FLOW Drill
The dolphin kick is the foundation of your butterfly stroke. FLOW drill helps perfect your total body undulation to build a strong kick.
Stay near the surface — your hips should come out of the water on every kick. Think about rolling the kick from your hands through to your toes.
You can also do the FLOW drill on your side and on your back — these options are tougher than on your stomach. Play around with all variations for maximum benefits!
We recommend wearing fins and a snorkel to help with momentum and make it easier to breathe.
2. Single Arm Butterfly Drill
This drill expands on the FLOW drill, working on body undulation and incorporating the pull.
Pull with one arm, keeping the non-working arm extended out in front of you. Maintain your usual butterfly rhythm and technique with your legs.
With each stroke, press your chest forward. Breathe to the side.
3. Fist Drill
This is probably one of the most advanced butterfly drills — swim butterfly with closed fists to focus on your high elbow catch and Early Vertical Forearm. Taking your hands out of the equation completely changes up the feel of your stroke, allowing you to identify where your catch needs tweaking.
This drill is challenging, but will improve your feel of the water and boost your pull power.
5. 2, 2, 2 Drill
This drill builds on single arm butterfly, working up to full strokes to develop a solid stroke rhythm.
Related: The 5 Most Common Butterfly Mistakes
Take 2 strokes on the right side, 2 on the left, and then 2 full strokes with both arms. Breathe to the side on the single arm strokes, and forward on the full strokes.
Mix up the number of strokes you take in each position to vary this drill. It’s common to see 1, 1, 1 or 3, 3, 3. Try them all!
5. Freestyle Kick with Butterfly Pull
This drill is great for developing speed and power in butterfly. The freestyle kick flattens the stroke so you can move your arms faster and focus on generating maximum power on the underwater phase of your pull.
We recommend wearing fins for this drill. You’re going to feel like you’re blazing through the water! Keep this drill to short bursts of swimming…25s are ideal!
More Butterfly Workout Tips
Train Short Distances
Even if you’re training for a long race like the 200 butterfly, break your training into shorter chunks to ensure that you maintain proper technique.
At the end of the day, your technique is more important than speed. And if you push yourself too far, your technique will fall apart anyway, putting you at risk for injury and slowing you down.
If you stay consistent and start with 25s and 50s butterfly, soon enough you will be able to mix in longer distances while maintaining proper technique.
Mix in Freestyle
Mixing freestyle into your butterfly sets can help offset fatigue and give your body a break.
Try swimming 100s alternating butterfly and freestyle by 25 or by 50, or alternate 50s in a set of 10, odds butterfly and evens freestyle. Do whatever you need to swim high-quality butterfly for the duration of your workout.
If you found these drills helpful, there’s a lot more to learn in the MySwimPro app! Save $35 on your first year of training with code SWIM35 >