Butterfly Stroke Drills

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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The butterfly stroke is not an easy one to learn. It requires much practice to perfect, and it is one of the most physically demanding of all swimming strokes. 

For this reason, practicing a lot of related drills, over and over again, is important not only to master the technique and improve but to gain the physical endurance you need to properly use this stroke. 

No matter if you are an experienced swimmer or a beginner, practicing drills is beneficial to everyone. Keep reading to learn about our top drills for mastering the butterfly stroke. 


What is the Best Way to Use Drills with Butterfly Strokes?

Drills are designed to take the separate parts of the stroke and break it down so that it is easier to manage. If you are a beginner, starting with basic swimming practices, such as breathing and floating, might be better. 

However, if you are a moderate or advanced swimmer, starting with the parts of the stroke that are the most difficult for you to learn is a good idea. This allows you to get the most practice with them. 

Then, as you start to get the hang of it, you can pair it with other parts of the stroke that aren’t as difficult for you. 

It is a good idea to practice each drill individually for a while and combine the drills near the end of your practice to get a feel for the full stroke while working on the individual pieces to improve the moments. 

Even the parts of the stroke you feel you know well and are easy, such as the kicks or breathing, should be practiced regularly. Professional swimmers practice these individual moves on repeat, despite having years of practice, so you have no excuse.


FLOW Drill

The FLOW drill is dedicated to practicing your kick. For example, the kick that the butterfly stroke uses is the dolphin kick. 

As the name suggests, the dolphin kick mimics the movement of a dolphin. However, instead of moving your legs separately, you let the movement from the rest of your body propel both of your hips up out of the water at the same time. 

As they sink, your feet should then come out of the water. This is one of the hardest parts of the butterfly stroke, as it requires a lot of practice, good timing, and ab strength. 


Practice kicking simultaneously 

For professional swimming competitions, the legs must move at the same time. They don’t have to be perfectly aligned, but you want to ensure they are in sync. 

This also guarantees that you are getting the maximum force from your kick. Otherwise, you may find yourself unable to get the propulsion you need as your legs aren’t working together to push the water. 


If you find yourself struggling

While you are swimming, try to make sure that the momentum is moving from your hands to your feet. This will help you to keep the correct movement and the right timing. 

If you aren’t getting the momentum right, try using a snorkel and fins. This way, you don’t have to worry about breathing while practicing and can have a little help with the kick until you get the hang of it. 

However, it may be worth working on your core if you are struggling to keep up the pace and easily grow tired. Doing exercises like crunches and leg lifts can help your abs get the strength they need to work on the leg movements. 


One-arm Butterfly Swimming Drills

A great practice for starting to combine the movements into one is the one-arm butterfly swimming drill. This works on practicing the correct arm movement along with the kick at the same time. 

You work on only one arm at a time to prevent being overwhelmed. This makes sure you have the movement down and helps strengthen the muscles in your arms. 

If you aren’t ready yet to incorporate lifting your head out of the water for breathing, you can practice with a snorkel. That way, you can focus directly on the arm and leg movements. 


  1. Go into the butterfly body position
  2. Make sure one arm stays still, either by staying in front of you or beside you
  3. Use the other arm to complete a butterfly stroke
  4. Keep going until you reach the end of the lap
  5. Swap arms and repeat


Here are some tips as well to help you master this drill and, later, the butterfly stroke itself. These are things to keep in mind while practicing so you can nail it. 


  • Try and kick as you would normally when using a butterfly stroke
  • Keep your rhythm
  • Focus on keeping your rhythm 


First Butterfly

If you are starting to get the hang of the butterfly stroke but can’t figure out exactly where you are slacking, the fist butterfly can help you out. 

You complete the butterfly stroke the same way as normal, except you keep your fists closed during the whole process. This allows you to focus on your arm movements, and you can feel where your elbow catch needs tweaking. 

This is one of the most challenging drills, but if you can master it, you will get a feel of your stroke in the water and be able to improve your pull power. 


Final Thoughts on Butterfly Stroke Drills

The butterfly stroke is difficult. Performing various drills will help you figure out where you are lacking and improve strength in certain muscles so you can push harder and longer. 

Strengthening these muscles is important as this stroke is the most physically demanding of them all. 

However, even after you build these muscles and start learning the butterfly stroke, it is worth continuing to practice these drills to find your weak points and improve. 

Once you master the butterfly stroke, you can feel accomplished in your abilities as a swimmer knowing that you have learned the most difficult swimming stroke out there.