swimming drills

Butterfly Stroke Drills- 8 Awesome Drills For Faster Butterfly Swimming

butterfly swimmer doing drills in a pool

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Competitive swimming is all about reducing resistance in the water as much as possible and being able to swim as fast as possible to ultimately win your race.

Technique and body position in the water play an important role when it comes to reducing resistance in the water and swimming faster.

As butterfly swimmers, we should always be striving to improve our technique and becoming better. No matter how good your technique is, chances are there will always be some minor improvement that you could make.

That minor improvement might not seem like a big deal, but when you start to add a few minor technique issues together and start improving on them you can most likely significantly increase your speed in the pool.

And for those butterfly swimmers who still have a lot of room to work on in their technique and a lot of things to improve on. Well, for you guys the results can be even more significant when you start perfecting your technique.

In many cases you will be a completely different swimmer, your stroke will be better, you will be faster and overall you will be a more well-balanced swimmer.

There are many ways to improve your butterfly stroke technique. One of those ways is by doing butterfly stroke drills.

These drills are an excellent way to improve your technique and overall speed in the water.


Let’s quickly take a look at a few benefits of doing butterfly stroke drills-


  • Improved overall butterfly swimming technique

I won’t spend too much time here since we already roughly discussed it earlier in this article.

The point is that butterfly stroke drills can improve different aspects of your technique and stroke, depending on what drill you decide to use.

There are all sorts of different butterfly stroke drills that focus on different aspects of your technique.

When you combine a few of these drills in your daily training you can create a good overall drill strategy, that will ultimately focus on improving your butterfly stroke and technique as a whole.

In time you can play around and mix up your butterfly drill strategy to see what works best for you and what drills benefit you the most.

Ultimately you will be able to improve the most important aspects of your butterfly technique, you will be able to reduce resistance in the water and increase your speed in the pool.


  • Improvements in power output from kicks and pulls

Beside from improving your technique and reducing resistance in the water, you may also be able to gain improvements in power output from kicks and pulls of your butterfly stroke, ultimately making you even faster.

I’ll explain what I mean by this. You see not all drills are completely focused on improving technique, some are focused on improving a certain movement and making you stronger in that movement.

Take the push through drill for example, during this drill you are focusing on pushing the water as hard as possible with your hands, in a race this can make a huge difference in your power output, ultimately seriously increasing your speed in the water.

So by doing drills like the push through drill where the focus is on improving the power from the pushing movement, you will be able to gain an improvement in power output.

This will make you stronger, faster and more explosive in the water.


  • Improvements on minor details and issues specific to your stroke

We have discussed how butterfly stroke drills can improve overall technique and increase your power output in the water.

However, there is still another benefit of doing these swimming drills. One of which is that you can focus on drills that work on improving minor details and issues specific to your butterfly stroke.

Not everyone’s butterfly stroke is the same. At the end of the day, everyone has their own style of swimming it. Take one of my teammates for example- his butterfly looks way different than most people’s stroke, it looks kinda wacky in ways.

But at the end of the race, he is still able to swim some really fast and good times, times that are fast enough to beat most of his competitors.


So with that being said, you can and should incorporate drills into your stroke that focus on improving minor issues specific to your stroke.

Maybe you need to work on hand placement. For that, you can use the one arm butterfly drill to focus on one arm at a time and get that hand placement just perfect.

There are many cool and unique butterfly drills that will help you to become a better swimmer and swim faster.  As you learn more about drills you can even create your own more custom drills that are meant just for you and specific parts of your stroke.

With all that being said let’s actually get to the butterfly stroke drills, here are 10 awesome butterfly stroke drills to improve your swimming-


  • Body position butterfly stroke drill

The body position swimming drill is one of the best drills for butterfly swimmers, it combines all of the important aspects of swimming butterfly.

The drill allows you to focus on maintaining proper body position in the water. Body position is an essential part of good butterfly technique. It plays an important role in reducing resistance in the water and ultimately making you faster.

The drill also focuses on using a strong push, doing powerful kicks and having a proper recovery when swimming at high speeds.

How to do it-

  • Start by kicking off the wall and going into the butterfly starting position
  • Then move your arms through the pulling phase
  • As you enter the pushing phase of the arm movement, give a small powerful kick whilst simultaneously accelerating the speed and power in the pushing phase of the arm movement. This should move you forward at a rapid pace.
  • After that, you will enter the recovery phase. As your arms exit, the water take a breath, then move them over the water back into the starting position whilst using as little as possible energy.
  • Do a big and relaxed kick, make sure that your hips exit the water.
  • When doing this drill it is important to almost completely stop in between the different parts for a second or two.
  • Then repeat the entire motion, this is essentially butterfly broken down. It will help you to focus on all of the little aspects of the stroke.


Also, read- How to swim butterfly without getting tired


  • Body position dolphin kicking drill

This drill is quite simple and basic. The point of it is to essentially just work on using the correct kicking pattern. It will also improve coordination and stability in your stroke.

How to do it-

  • Start by going into the butterfly body position (Head tucked in towards your chest, chest out, hips slightly up and legs straight, your body should now be in an almost perfectly horizontal line).
  • Then place your hands by your sides and start the kicking motion
  • One powerful small kick, one relaxed, big kick.
  • Simply repeat it at the same rate at which you would when swimming butterfly.


  • Back dolphin kicking drill

The back dolphin kicking drill focuses on many of the same aspects in the body position kicking drill. However, it is slightly more orientated towards kicking power and core strength. (Find out what are the 8 best core exercises for butterfly swimmers)

How to do it-

  • Go into the backstroke swimming position, but place your arms and hands in streamline position above your head.
  • Now you should be completely on your back facing up.
  • Start doing small, fast and powerful butterfly kicks.
  • Do at least a 50 before resting.


  • Push through drill

The butterfly push through drill is an excellent drill to improve the power in the pushing motion of your butterfly stroke.

Many swimmers lack the necessary power required in the pushing phase of the butterfly arm movement.

This drill will work those muscles and train you to use them properly during a race.

How to do it-

  • Start by going into the butterfly body position with your arms in a streamline position above your head.
  • Next, go into the pulling phase of the butterfly arm motion
  • As you reach the end of the pulling phase give a strong kick and accelerate the speed, tempo, and power of your arms. Give a powerful and fast push, your arms should shoot out above the water at the back end of your stroke
  • Do not enter the recovery phase of the arm movement
  • Simply do 1-2 butterfly kicks with a breaststroke pull while moving your body into the starting position again.
  • Then restart the entire motion and repeat.


  • 3, 3, 3 Butterfly swim drill

The 3,3,3 butterfly stroke drill is a good drill to focus on specific aspects of the arm movement during butterfly, you can work on things like hand placement, feeling the line of your stroke and improving the pulling and pushing movements.

First, you focus on doing it perfectly with one arm and then with both. This way it is easier to learn the technique since you only have to focus on 1 arm at a time before combining them to create a fluent motion.

How to do it-

  • Start by pushing off the wall and going into a normal butterfly breakout.
  • When you break out only use 1 arm, you can place the other one next to your side or in front of you.
  • Then give 3 strokes with the 1 arm and switch to the other, once you have completed 3 strokes on each do 3 strokes with both. (Essentially swimming normal butterfly, but focusing on your technique).


  • No kick Butterfly

The no kick butterfly is an excellent drill to work on using leverage and momentum in your stroke to your advantage.

This drill will also teach you how to power your stroke from the core and gain the maximum benefit by engaging your core muscles.

How to do it-

  • Kick off the wall to start the drill, as you move to the surface of the water, focus on achieving a good body position in the water. (straight spine, firm core and high hips).
  • Then give a strong arm stroke through the water, without kicking. Take a breath as your body reaches the highest point in the water. Recover using your core to propel your arms forward.
  • You will notice that your feet snap down in the water anyway.
  • Do a few more strokes, whilst focusing on maintaining a high hip and body position in the water. Use powerful arm strokes to propel yourself forward in the water.
  • Once, again you will notice that your feet snap down and produce a kick-like movement in the water, without you actively trying to kick.
  • Repeat the drill, focusing on trying to make your feet snap down purely through the force generated by the other movements in your stroke.


  • Angel butterfly swimming drill

The angel butterfly swim drill is a good drill focusing on using low amounts of energy during the recovery phase of your stroke.

How to do it-

  • Start by kicking off the wall and going into the butterfly body position, try to get as high in the water as you can.
  • Then do a half-stroke through the water, only to the point where your arms exit the water.
  • As they exit do a full recovery, but instead of moving your arms through the water again, reverse the recovery backward again to the point where your arms would have exited the water.
  • The result of this motion would be a halo, like the ones above an angels head supposedly.
  • Continue this movement creating as many halos as you can.
  • Focus on using as little as possible energy in order to create more halos.
  • You will notice that this drill can tire you out quickly.
  • Remember to do a few breaststroke pulls in between as recovery since you won’t be breathing during the drill.


  • Y reach butterfly drill

Many butterfly swimmers finish each arm stroke slightly narrower than they really should. This wastes a lot of energy and creates more drag in the water.

The Y reach butterfly drill is a good drill to help swimmers to reach slightly outside of shoulder width, ultimately reducing resistance and saving energy.

The drill also helps swimmers to position their hands to hold more water, ultimately allowing for better grip and more speed in the pool.

How to do it-

  • Start by kicking off the wall, do a few underwater dolphin kicks to get your rhythm going.
  • Then break out and do one normal stroke, as you finish the stroke realign your arms to reach forward.
  • As you are getting ready to take the next stroke, drop your chest down, extend your arms and push your elbows out so that they are straight.  As you achieve this position focus on pointing your thumbs outward. You will notice that your fingertips will turn outward as you do this.
  • Then complete your stroke and repeat the movement. Feel your fingertips entering the water wider than your shoulders.
  • Give a few more strokes, maintain a wide relaxed recovery, after that redirect your arms to reach forward as your hands pass your shoulders. Drop your chest, press out your elbows in a straight position and align your reach to the far end of the pool using your thumbs.
  • As you go into a fully extended motion it should feel as if your arms are forming a Y on the surface of the water.


Also, read- 5 Best tech suits for butterfly swimmers



So there you have it- 8 awesome butterfly stroke drills to improve your butterfly swimming.

I highly recommend that you incorporate a few of these drills into your training sessions. Look at them, decide which would most benefit you and next time your coach tells you to do a 400 drill, do them!

These drills can truly help improve your stroke and technique, ultimately making you a faster and better butterfly swimmer!



More swimming articles-

  • 10 Best strength exercises for swimmers– Butterfly is a stroke that requires a good amount of strength and power, even if your, not a butterfly swimmer you will still benefit from being stronger and more powerful in the water.


  • 8 Best swimming goggles for competition– Swimming goggles have come to play an important role in modern competitive swimming. Competition swim goggles are designed to be as hydrodynamic as possible. They help you to time turns perfectly and see where your opponents are.




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About the author



I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with many years of experience in the sport of swimming. I am very passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing everything I have learned about the sport. I specialize in swimming butterfly and my favorite event is the 100m butterfly with the 50m and 200m fly closely following.

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