Butterfly Stroke Tips

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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There is a lot of precision and timing when it comes to doing the butterfly stroke. Even professionals have to practice this stroke a lot and don’t always get it right. 

However, for those that do, it can be a game-changer. 

Thankfully, we’ve provided you with some tips to keep in mind to help you really nail down the butterfly stroke. So keep reading for the six tips to keep in mind whenever you are practicing.


Six Tips for the Butterfly Stroke

Kick with Your Hips

As with any stroke, when you are swimming, you want to make sure to kick with your hips. Unfortunately, a lot of newer swimmers use their knees for swimming, which will not deliver enough force to propel them forward. 

This actually means that the swimmer has to use a lot more energy to get the work done than they would have to if they properly just used their hips. 

It also has the potential to cause injuries to their knees later on, especially if done too often. If a serious enough injury occurs, they may even find themselves unable to swim again. 

For these reasons, pay attention to the parts of the body you use. If you find yourself not getting as much force as you think, you should make sure you are actually using the right part of your body for the action. 

Otherwise, you may simply be doing too much work for yourself and causing injuries in the long run. 


Don’t Dive Too Deep

You don’t actually want to go fully underwater with the butterfly stroke. Instead, staying close to the surface is ideal. During a proper butterfly stroke, parts of your body will actually pop out of the water as you move. 

Feet, elbows, head, and rear should all poke out of the water at some point or other during the different phases of the stroke. This may not feel natural, but diving too deep actually takes a lot more energy, and you waste time coming back up for air. 


Make Sure You Are Doing Two Kicks per Stroke

Beginners to the butterfly stroke tend to only manage to perform one kick per cycle. However, it is important to try and get two per cycle instead. This is the best method as it gives you the right timing, and you can get the propulsion and recovery periods you need. 

If you struggle to get two kicks per stroke, you need to work hard on your timing and ensure your timing is correct. 



Even if you think you get a part down, don’t just stop practicing. Using the same drills repeatedly every time you train will ensure you get the moves down. Remember, even professional swimmers drill themselves on even the most basic of kicks. 

Practicing the moves of a butterfly stroke is much harder. The moves need delicate timing and confident strokes. It isn’t worth only putting a little effort into the drills. They are just as important as the rest of the swim. 

It is also worth trying out new drills, especially if you find yourself lacking in some areas. 

For example, if you aren’t able to master one part of the stroke, you may find that there is a drill that will help you get the movement or timing downright, or at least commit the action to muscle memory so you can perform it naturally in the stroke. 

Mostly, it is very important to never take your stroke for granted. Even if you get it right, that doesn’t mean you no longer need to practice. 

Whether it is an extremely complicated stroke like the butterfly stroke or the front crawl, you must always remember to practice or risk losing that muscle memory and strength. 


Watch others

On top of practicing drills, it is important to watch others. As you can see in other sports and sports movies, watching other players and competitors lets you break down what they are doing so you can copy or learn from their choices. 

This may also help you identify the areas you are lacking. For example, their kick may end at a different area than yours, or their arm extensions don’t stretch quite far. 

Watching other successful swimmers doing the same stroke can really help you learn where your own mistakes are. 


Build Those Muscles

Our final tip is to build those muscles. If you have been swimming for a while and use the same strokes constantly, you likely already have the muscle mass you need.

However, if you are new to swimming or are trying a new stroke that needs a different area of muscles, it is essential to make sure they are strong and flexible enough to do the job they need to do. 

For example, in the butterfly stroke, flexible ankles, while not a must-have, certainly help your kick be stronger. 

Also, moving your arms properly for this stroke is tiring. If you aren’t strong enough to keep up the movement, you may do the stroke in a different way or let it slack because you don’t have the strength to keep up the right angle.

This can lead to performing incorrect techniques later and may actually cause more harm as you can damage your muscles. It’s like using a machine wrong at the gym. You aren’t being efficient, and you aren’t building muscle. Instead, you are just risking injury. 

The same goes for swimming. Suppose you don’t have the strength to jump right into that level of exercise. Practice and strengthen those muscles. Plenty of drills help you build them up, or you can go to the gym and use the machines there. 


Final Thoughts on Butterfly Stroke Tips

There is a lot involved in learning the butterfly stroke. Trying to understand the kick and arm cycles and putting them all together can be confusing. 

These tips should help you keep important parts of the swim in mind to better your practices and nail your drills so that you can soon learn how to properly do the butterfly stroke.