Learning proper butterfly swimming technique requires that you first master the wave-like body movements. Once this body undulation has been mastered the dolphin kick and arm stroke often fall into place quite naturally. This article explains how to properly execute this body undulation.
To explain how to generate the wave-like body movements, we will keep the arm stroke out of the picture for now. The arm stroke is explained in its own article. So let’s consider that you are in this initial position:
Now to start the wave-like body movements, do the following:
This rhythmical application and release of pressure on your chest and hips is what drives the body undulation. Please note that the amount of undulation at the chest is normally greater than at the hips.
When the body undulation that started in your upper body has traveled down through your torso and hips arrives at your legs, you should execute a whipping movement simultaneously with both legs, a little bit like kicking into a ball but with the feet pointed. For more details please consult the dolphin kick article.
Your head assists the body undulation with the following movements:
To visualize this, imagine that when pushing your chest downwards you are trying to capture a bundle of water behind your neck. Then when your chest rises you try to make this bundle of water slide down your back.
Adding these head movements helps drive the body undulation and transform the vertical up and down movements into propulsive movements. However, these head movements should not be overdone to avoid straining the neck.
Another thing to take into account is that while swimming butterfly, there are breathing and non-breathing stroke cycles. During breathing cycles, you will tilt your head backwards more to clear the water and be able to breathe than during non-breathing stroke cycles.
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