If you’re exhausted after just 25 meters of butterfly, there’s a good chance you need to work on your timing and rhythm! 

Butterfly is the most difficult stroke to learn, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a strength perspective. We recommend learning it last and focusing on the other strokes first. But if you’re ready to take on butterfly, check out two of our favorite drills to help you perfect your timing and swim faster. 


Common Problems in the Butterfly Stroke

Many beginners struggle with two things when learning butterfly:

  1. Getting the arms out of the water: With limited strength, beginners often find it hard to keep their arms moving properly, which can cause their hips to sink. And that slows them down!
  2. Finding the right time to take a breath: Newbies lose a lot of forward momentum when they don’t breathe at the right time. 

To fix these issues, we recommend focusing on a few things:

Related: How to Swim Butterfly with Perfect Technique

  1. Keeping your hips high in the water
  2. Breathing early, ideally before your hands reach your hips as you pull
  3. Keeping your chin close to the surface of the water as you breathe
  4. Dropping your head back to neutral immediately after taking a breath

Let’s break down a few drills you can try to nail this timing!

Flick Drill

If you’re trying to recover your arms forward while your head is still up to breathe, the Flick Drill will fix that and help you understand what it feels like to breathe earlier. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start in streamline position with the arms extended.
  2. Start your pull with a high-elbow catch, do a dolphin kick to propel yourself forward and lift your head to breathe
  3. Complete your pull by pushing your hands all the way to your hips and flicking your wrists 
  4. Drop your head back to neutral and recover the arms underwater back to the starting position

Breaststroke & Butterfly Drill

If you’re better at breaststroke, this drill can help you nail your butterfly timing a bit better. Since butterfly and breaststroke are both short axis strokes, their rhythm is similar, and swapping between them might help things click for you!

To do this drill, take one full breaststroke stroke, followed by one butterfly stroke, and repeat!

Think of your body motion like a teeter totter: Push with your chest, then your hips. When done right, this drill will help you undulate better, find a tempo and keep your body position high.

Pro Tip: Find a Breathing Pattern

We recommend breathing every other stroke in butterfly. This will help keep your hips up and will ensure you get enough air to keep swimming! Whatever breathing pattern you choose, practice it in training so you know you’ll crush it on race day.

Butterfly is tough, so be kind to yourself and take it easy as you learn it. Even some advanced swimmers struggle with butterfly technique. 

For more technique tips and butterfly workouts, download the MySwimPro app to start your personalized Training Plan.


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