5 Easy Steps to Master Butterfly

Many people find butterfly one of the hardest strokes to master in their swimming.  Butterfly can be an easy stroke to swim if instructors and swimmers take their time and use a building block approach to learning – that is don’t move onto harder skills and drills until previous ones have been learned and mastered.


Below are some important steps to ensure swimmers achieve great results in learning butterfly in their swimming lessons.


Separate the skills

  • Isolate the skills so they can be practiced alone and improved upon (just kicking, just arms, breathing).
  • Use equipment when needed – kickboard, pull-buoy, flippers etc.
  • Go slow initially – separating the skill will allow for skill isolation, slow movement will allow perfect skill acquisition and muscle memory.
  • Correct mistakes straight away to help build good quality strokes.


Perfect the timing

  • Once the arms, legs and breathing have been practiced and perfected swimmers can begin to put them together.
  • Timing may start to naturally come as arms are being practiced by themselves – don’t stifle this movement/timing if it is correct.
  • Use key-words during instruction to assist in learning and participation.
  • Lots of practice with lots of rest will produce good timing and swimming.


Use drills

  • Drills are a perfect way to work on all aspects of a swimmers stroke.
  • Stop often, ensure understanding and repeat instruction of drills.
  • Ensure swimmers take the time to perfect drills and don’t rush.
  • Give feedback and ensure drills are perfect before moving on.


Build stamina

  • Once stroke is perfect swimmers will be able to swim for longer distances while putting all elements of the stroke together.
  • Ensure stroke is perfect when increasing distance number of lengths completed.


Perfect practice makes perfect

  • Movement creates neuromuscular patterns between the brain and the muscles.  If something is practiced incorrectly the body will remember it to be this way and continue to swim incorrectly.
  • It is the instructor’s job to stop swimmers if they are producing an incorrect stroke.  The earlier a swimmer is stopped and corrected the easier it will be for them to repair faults in their stroke.  The longer a swimmer is left doing something incorrectly the harder it will be to change these faults.


If instructors can use these 5 Easy Steps in their teaching their swimmers will be turning out great butterfly strokes in no time.  Don’t forget to use your teaching peers and community for ideas of drills and skills for teaching butterfly.


by Jane Lawrence


How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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