I am trying to learn butterfly better, and I watched some videos on YT explaining the stroke mechanics. For some reason, I find it really difficult to time one of the down leg kicks, near the end of arm underwater, as the training videos show.

For me, the natural thing is:

enter arms and leg kick

keep arms front (glide) and get legs back up

start move arms back, at the same time second leg kick

Essentially, on the training videos, there is no pause with the arms.

Is what comes naturally to me, inefficient? Illegal?

  • It might also help to see the video you are referencing.
    – JohnP
    Commented Mar 11 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


As far as legality, other than sacrificing a little bit of speed, as long as your arms move back together and aren't split (like in freestyle), you're ok with a little bit of a glide. For most swimmers there is a bit of a pause (not really a glide though) as the arms enter and grab the water before the pull.

This youtube video by Speedo has a decent breakdown of the stroke. There are two videos that follow it on breathing and kick as well.

Where people get a little mixed up is that while the kick aids in propulsion, one of the main purposes of the kick is to drive the wave motion of the body. You have a strong kick as the arms swing forward and in, and the kick is designed to push the upper body down and forward in the water. As the arms start to finish their stroke, the second kick pushes the torso up and forward. (Side note: There is no requirement on kicks. You can do 1, 2, 3, 5, whatever. As long as they go together and don't separate).

If you think of butterfly as a series of shallow dives into the water it helps. One of the ways that I used to teach kids is to have them stand in shallow water and do a forward dive motion, staying just below the surface of the water. As they start to lose a little momentum, use a kick to pop their head up (Arms at this point stay out front and just guide). Then as they progress, I had them do a kick and a pull with no recovery. And so on and so on.

There are also several good kickboard drills to work on butterfly kick motion and timing. I also really like pull buoys with butterfly because even with the pull buoy to aid the flotation of the hips, you can get almost a full stroke in.

Work on each piece, then work on integrating them. Butterfly is probably the most technical stroke (imo) to learn and be smooth at.

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