Of all the competitive strokes, the butterfly stroke is one of the most challenging strokes. Sprinting butterfly requires a great deal of energy and strength. Its distinctive dolphin kick builds core and leg strength, and its benefits are useful for all swimming strokes. When sprinting, the kick moves at a high tempo to propel you through the water, while slower butterfly swimming will require a regular, steady dolphin kick.
The kick used during butterfly is known as the dolphin kick. Other swimming strokes use this kick, but butterfly is the only stroke that uses the dolphin kick alone. When doing the dolphin kick, you must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissor or use the breaststroke kick at any time. With the toes pointed and knees relaxed, the hips, knees and ankles should remain together throughout the kick.
When swimming butterfly, always complete two butterfly kicks for every one arm stroke. Distance butterfly swimmers often have a 1-kick-to-1-stroke ratio, but if physically possible the 2-to-1 ratio will allow for the greatest propulsion. Your kicking pattern will remain unchanged regardless of speed or effort. As the arm strokes of butterfly increase and decrease in speed, so too will the speed of the kick. As you push yourself to swim faster, your legs must increase in speed, but keep a 2-to-1 pattern.
The amplitude or height of your kick may change as your butterfly swim also changes. During an easy to moderate butterfly swim, your kick may be shallow, but as you increase your effort and speed, the height of your kick should also increase. This increase in height will allow your wavelike dolphin kick to move more water and propel you through the water faster. Swimming butterfly will require your entire body to move in a wavelike fashion, with the highest point of amplitude being seen at your feet.
To have a successful butterfly, your kick must originate from a strong core. Practicing dolphin kick in a streamlined position will help strengthen these muscles and perfect the wavelike motion required for an efficient butterfly. Flexibility in the core, legs and feet will also improve kicking efficiency. Flexible feet will provide your legs with the necessary platform to move large amounts of water. Due to of the high physical demands of butterfly, always warm up with easy swimming prior to swimming butterfly.
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