Common Butterfly Stroke Mistakes You May Be Making

The butterfly is arguably the most complicated swimming stroke in the books, and learning it can be quite an experience. It’s understandable for you to become frustrated or confused when trying to learn it. During the practice and perfection process, you may be making a lot of little mistakes.

Don’t feel discouraged, though - there is plenty of room to fix these mistakes, and you are well on your way to perfecting the butterfly stroke! This is an advanced swimming technique, and it can take some time to train your body to get it right. The information below may be helpful in highlighting some of the common mistakes, so that you may recognize them and work on improving your skill.

Big Kicks

One of the first noticeable mistakes you may be making when trying to improve on your butterfly stroke is that you may be kicking too big. If you’re used to swimming the breaststroke, front crawl, or backstroke, then you might be using your legs as a powerful tool to propel you forward. However, it works differently with the butterfly stroke. You’ll need to learn not to rely on your legs to kick too big, otherwise you’ll be expending much more effort than is necessary for this kind of stroke.

To fix this, you can practice making smaller kicks. You don’t have to worry about limiting movements in the other parts of your body, but you can work on lifting your feet up and down in the water rather than splashing about.

Breathing Too Late

Another common mistake while attempting the butterfly is breathing too late. A lot of beginners to the stroke will try to wait until your arms have left the water for you to breathe. But when this happens, you risk throwing off the entire rhythm of this complicated swimming stroke!

The best way to combat this issue is to focus on not panicking, and allowing yourself to understand how your arms and body move in the water. The best place for you to take your breath is when your arms begin the pull. Lift your chin, take your breath, and tuck your head back in upon the time your arms come back into the water. This gives you enough time to safely roll your arms and your neck so that you don’t hurt yourself. You will start to gain a nice tempo that you will get used to quite easily.

Moving Your Thumbs Forward

When your arms move forward during the pulling phase, you may be tempted to aim your thumbs forward when you do so. However, this can leave the inside of your elbows exposed, which makes you bend the elbows. This will make it difficult for you to raise your arms out of the water, adding a bunch of drag and resistance that you don’t want to have. You shouldn’t have to expend any more energy than you need to when attempting to perform your butterfly stroke!

To fix this problem, you should point your thumbs down, rather than forward, when moving your arms in the water. That way, you can be sure to naturally lock your elbows while you swim, reducing drag and resistance. You can practice this with one arm at a time, so you can get used to how the movement feels.

Looking Forward Too Much

Looking ahead while doing the butterfly stroke may seem like the right thing to do, but you may actually be messing up your stroke and hurting your spine in the process. While you want to be able to see where you’re going while swimming, you also should work on looking down rather than out. You need to resist the urge to look forward, as this will help your body roll with the stroke more easily.

In order to prevent your body from being too flat and too stiff, you need to look down towards the bottom of the pool while you swim. Practicing this posture can help to loosen your neck, which will prevent your spine from getting injured while you swim. You can much more easily achieve a beautiful butterfly stroke this way.