Swimming Drills to Learn the Butterfly Stroke

This article gives you a sequence of swimming drills to learn the Butterfly Stroke with ease. Learning butterfly can be difficult because this swimming stroke has several peculiar features. The body must execute a wave-like undulation which ends in a dolphin kick, and the arms must recover above water simultaneously with the right timing.

A butterfly stroke swimmer outdoors
The butterfly stroke has peculiar features that make it
both challenging and interesting to learn.

That’s why it is best to learn each part of the butterfly technique separately and then to combine those parts progressively until you can finally swim the full stroke. That’s the approach the swimming drills presented on this page follow.

Main Butterfly Stroke Drills

So let’s have an overview of the drills you’ll use to how to learn to swim butterfly:

Head-Lead Body Dolphin: This is the first of our butterfly stroke drills. It is a drill that teaches you how to properly do the body undulation and dolphin kick, which are the foundations of this swim stroke. Because in this drill you are not allowed to use your arms, you have to learn how to use body undulation for propulsion.

Hand-Lead Body Dolphin: In the next drill to learn butterfly, you’ll continue to practice the body undulation. This time however you’ll keep your arms extended in front of you. While doing this swimming drill you will notice that the wave that travels down your body is slower but carries more energy.

Slide to the Corners: Slide to the Corners is the next butterfly stroke drill. Actually it’s just an extension of the previous drill, Hand-Lead Body Dolphin. Now you’ll practice the right setup of your arms and body at the catch, just before your arms start to push backward against the water for propulsion.

Stoneskipper: In Stoneskipper you practice the propulsive underwater phase of your arms and learn the correct timing of breathing in the butterfly stroke. The drill can be thought of as executing two Hand-Lead Body Dolphins, then executing the underwater arms sweeps, then executing two Head-Lead Body Dolphins and finally sneaking your arms back forward underwater to their initial position.

Hip-Delay Butterfly: Hip-delay butterfly is a swimming drill that teaches you the correct technique and timing of the above water arm recovery. Once you have mastered this drill, you will have pretty much learned all the technical aspects needed to swim butterfly.

Body-Dolphin Butterfly: In this drill you combine the arm movements that you practiced in the two previous drills, Stoneskipper and Hip-Delay Butterfly. You also add a few body dolphins between each arm stroke to avoid exhaustion.

Easy Butterfly: Because swimming butterfly is so exhausting, butterfly can quickly become butterstruggle. This drill, the last one of our How To Learn To Swim the Butterfly Stroke drills, shows you how you can practice the butterfly stroke without becoming exhausted too quickly.

Additional Butterfly Drills

Learn the Dolphin Kick and Body Undulation: This article has additional swimming drills that you can practice if you don’t “get” the body undulation and dolphin kick used in butterfly. The article covers drills with swimming fins, without fins, at the water surface and underwater. Some additional tips for the body undulation and dolphin kick are also provided.

One-Armed Butterfly: An anonymous reader explains one-armed butterfly, a nice swimming drill for the butterfly stroke.

5 thoughts on “Swimming Drills to Learn the Butterfly Stroke”

  1. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I have been learning Butterfly swimming for a long time following the way you are teaching, but whatever I tried I was not be able to breathe. Would you please give me some suggestions about what I should practice for breathing.

    Thanks you very much!


    1. Hi John,

      Could you give more details about what goes wrong? It is difficult to pinpoint the issue with your description.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *