The butterfly stroke is undoubtedly the toughest swimming technique to master and is what often separates the good swimmers from the great. As such, the prospect of excelling at this method is one that appeals to all lovers of the sport. Not least thanks to the popularity growth courtesy of a certain Mr Phelps.
Emulating the times of the most decorated Olympian is probably an unrealistic target, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shave valuable seconds off of your PB. Here’s how.
Tip #1: Perfecting The Dolphin Kick
The butterfly is a technique t
hat relies on the whole body. Nonetheless, it’s the dolphin kick technique that separates this stroke from the others. More importantly, getting this right is what will spearhead your progress to a new PB.
Timing is everything due to the continued flowing motion of the technique. You should be making two dolphin kicks per stroke for optimum power and movement. Timing will dictate your efficiency over time, so make sure you count those kicks at all times. For now, maximum distance per cycle is the key. There are multiple ways to improve your dolphin kick, improve the strength, and the technique, these can be done individually with a combination of dryland and in-pool training, or you can do both simultaneously with the help of a monofin. Monofin's build power in the kick while also promoting the correct technique, our favourite monofin is the FINIS Foil monofin. The Foil monofin is endorsed b
es all over the world and is both affordable and effective.
Over time, you can begin to increase the tempo without losing the rhythm. In turn, your competition will be left behind.
Tip #2: Improving The Push Off
When it comes to competitive swimming, the pool wall can be your greatest friend or worst enemy. Frankly, overlooking the importance of this moment is one of the worst mistakes of all.
A powerful push doesn’t only generate speed going into stroke one. It also allows you to resume your swim with no resistance for optimum momentum. Master the kick up at the breakout technique, and keeping your rhythm will become easy.
Conversely, a slow push off will slow your momentum for the entire length. Oh, and don’t forget to spend time on your pool entry dives and resurfacing either.
Tip #3: Use The Correct Gear
When race day comes around, it's vital you're using the correct gear and wearing the right suit, the range of Michael Phelps XPRESSO suits,
developed by the man himself give excellent performance and the kneeskins do not restrict the arms which is vital in the butterfly stroke due to their unique motion. The MP performance range doesn't stop there, the XCEED goggles offer a very low profile and they look great! To top it all off (quite literally) the X-O Caps streamline the body using strategically placed dual density panels.
The range of MP swimwear combines exceptional performance with a professional and competitive design. But perhaps you're not looking to compete just yet, well the MP range will have you covered there too. Their range of training swimwear offers vibrant and fun patterns, printed on an extremely durable material comp
osition that is designed for comfort and longevity.
Tip #4: Timing Head Movements
Breathing techniques are crucial for all swimming strokes, but they are particularly vital for the butterfly. Due to your continuous movement, even the slightest mistake can reduce the distance covered per cycle. Meanwhile, not getting enough oxygen will exhaust your body far quicker.
While you want to take in the fresh air, there’s no need to lift your head towards the sky. Practice keeping your chin low, and you should see a noticeable difference in your times almost immediately. Get this right, and stroke cycles will become far smoother.
For optimum speed through the water, make your head hit the water just before your hands do. This will aid the motion of your cycles.
Extra Tip: Improving Away From The Pool
Perfecting your technique should always be the main concern. Nevertheless, your butterfly can certainly benefit from training the right muscles to generate more power in your stroke.
The butterfly uses a whole host of muscles including pecs, shoulders, biceps and triceps. Building strength and endurance in those areas can make a world of difference. However, it’s equally imperative to pay attention to the quads, hamstrings, and calves. After all, those double kicks can fatigue the muscles if they aren’t well trained.
Burpees, lunges, and leg presses can work wonders. Meanwhile, rowing can add a little variety while preparing the upper body. As for technique-based exercises, position kick exercises can be crucial.
Resistance bands can be very useful when it comes to dry land training, using resistance bands can make a workout much more difficult and therefore, more rewarding, fitness mad resistance bands are extremely versatile in their uses and have 3 different strengths options: