That’s right….the butterfly is the stroke most swimmers “fear”, from recreational swimmers to elite athletes, either due to the energy expenditure it involves (over 800 kcal/h) or because of coordination difficulties.
To tackle this latter issue, there are lots of technical drills for this stroke to be performed with great care.
Here are some of the numerous drills that will allow you to learn this stroke more easily:
1. By the “side of the pool”: mimic the mechanics of the butterfly stroke with great precision out of the water by the side of the pool, making one leg kick – bending your knees slightly – as your hands “enter the water” and another when they reach your sides (basic drill before beginning the others).
2. With short fins: swim the butterfly with short fins on your feet, taking one arm stroke for every 3-4 leg kicks.
3. One arm only: swim the butterfly using just one arm without moving the other or with it extended out in front of you or along your side. It is extremely important to breathe forwards and not laterally when performing this drill.
4. Breaststroke legs with lateral breathing: swim the butterfly making a breaststroke leg kick every arm stroke, breathing once to the right and once to the left, attempting to keep your head underwater as much as possible.
5. Freestyle legs: swim the butterfly using a freestyle leg kick. Try to keep your shoulders above the water when performing this drill.
6. Variable entry: swim the butterfly making sure your hands enter the water approximately 50 cm apart for the first arm stroke, approximately 25 cm apart for the second stroke and then together for the third stroke before returning to the initial 50 cm for 4th arm stroke.
7. Underwater recovery: swim the butterfly without the aerial part (recovery) of the arm stroke, making sure your arms are below your chest and trying to go as deep as possible with your shoulders by thrusting your back powerfully downwards.
8. Clenched fists: swim the butterfly with clenched fists trying to keep your arms and legs as coordinated as possible.
9. Extended arms: swim the butterfly describing a semicircle during the underwater phase (pull) of the arm stroke.
10. One leg kick: swim the butterfly making just one leg kick for every complete arm cycle, inserting it at the end of the pull phase right before beginning the recovery phase above the water.
In any case, do not try and perform all these drills in one single session, they can really strain your shoulders and back, although as we all know “Excellence requires exertion [cit.].
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