Butterfly is known for being tough on the shoulders, but it doesn’t have to be! With a proper dolphin kick, you can take a load off of your shoulders and create a powerful stroke rhythm that will have you swimming faster than ever.
Check out two of our favorite drills for the butterfly kick, and give them a try in your next workout!
How to Kick in Butterfly
Butterfly is a hip driven stroke. Most of the power in your kick will come from your core and your hips.
Your legs should bend a little when you kick, but you shouldn’t focus on bending your knees a lot.
Instead, think about keeping a small bend in your knees and undulating your hips to initiate your kick. Make sure to keep your legs together!
Many swimmers struggle to time their kick and their arms when swimming butterfly. It’s helpful to think of butterfly as having two kicks:
- Kick when your arms come out of the water in your recovery
- Kick when your arms enter the water to start your pull
If you can master this timing, butterfly will start to feel much easier. Check out a few drills we like to use to work on your rhythm & timing!
2 Drills to Improve Your Butterfly Kick
Start with your hands in superman position, in line with your shoulders. Then start kicking, focusing on pressing with your chest and then your hips to nail that undulating, “dolphin” motion.
Keep a slight bend in your knees as you kick, and make sure to keep your head in a neutral position.
Kick this way for a full 25, then turn and keep going! Try adding a snorkel or fins to this drill if you’d like.
This drill will help you work on driving your kick with your legs and matching your kick with your arm timing.
Take three strokes with your right arm, then three strokes with your left arm, and then three full strokes with both arms.
During the single arm strokes, you can breathe to the front or to the side – whichever is most comfortable. Make sure to keep kicking consistently throughout each stroke cycle!
Pro Tips: Underwaters & Breathing
Every time you push off the wall, do 3-5 dolphin kicks in streamline before you start swimming. A good underwater allows you to move further across the pool without actually taking a stroke…and we recommend trying to maximize that speed as much as possible. And, the good news is that you can do dolphin kick off the walls in freestyle and backstroke too!
When you’re finished with your underwater kicks and you start swimming, try to take at least 2-3 strokes before you lift your head to breathe. This will help you get your hips up and find your rhythm before you add breathing to the mix.
In that same vein, find a breathing pattern that works for you, and stick to it in races and workouts. If you like to breathe every three strokes, be consistent with that pattern so your body gets a steady flow of oxygen, and knows what to expect on race day.
For the best results, we recommend working on technique and drills at least a few times per week, if not every workout. Stay consistent and focused, and your hard work will be rewarded! For more technique tips, drills and personalized workouts, download the MySwimPro app. Try the Get Fit IM Training Plan to improve your butterfly technique and master the 200 IM!