Butterfly Kick Technique

The technique needed for an effective butterfly kick involves power and coordination.  Discover what is needed and how it fits into the rest of the swimming stroke. 

Butterfly kick technique for beginners

The main functions of butterfly leg kick are to balance the arm action and help to provide some propulsion.  This action then generates the undulating movement of the body position as the swimmer moves through the water. 

The leg kick has to match the power of the arm action, so that when combined at the correct time the swimmer has a smooth and yet powerful undulating body movement.  Get all this wrong and you go nowhere!

Butterfly Kick Video Demonstration

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The best exercises to practice in the pool with technique tips and coaching points to fine-tune your basic butterfly .  Download the answers in an instant.  Click here for more details.

Essential Parts of Butterfly Leg Kick

1.  The legs kick simultaneously in an action that is similar to that of front crawl but with a greater and more pronounced knee bend.  

2.  The upbeat of the kick should come from the hips as they undulate.

3.  The ankles should be relaxed with toes pointed.

Butterfly swimming stroke leg kick technique

4.  The legs move upwards during the undulating body movement, as the head and shoulders dive downwards.

5.  Knees bend and then straighten on the downbeat to provide propulsion. The legs should accelerate to provide power on the downbeat.

Do You Make These Common Butterfly Kick Mistakes?

A breaststroke type leg kick can sometimes be performed by mistake, due to the simultaneous nature of the kick itself.

Most swimmers that are able to perform breaststroke fairly well will naturally kick their legs in a small circle when attempting butterfly leg kick for the first time.

Another common mistake is to place an emphasis on the arm pull for butterfly and therefore lose all power from the leg kick. 

The legs just go through the motions when in fact they are needed to assist the body to rise out of the water so that the arm pull and recovery can be completed with minimum effort.

A powerful butterfly leg kick is vital and performing the kick whilst holding a float or kickboard out in front with straight arms will help develop the technique and power required for this movement.

The kick can also be practised in a supine (face up) position with the legs kicking upwards towards the water surface.  This is also a great for strengthening the abdominal and deep core muscles, which are especially needed in this stroke more so than in any of the other basic swimming strokes. 

Get Your Kick Absolutely Right With These Exercises

Download these documents to your computer, tablet or mobile device and use the key technique points to get your butterfly leg kick as near perfect as you can. 

Kicking holding a float


Kicking from push and glide


Kicking from a supine position


Kick and roll


Click here for more butterfly exercises.

All of these documents are PDF format and are compatible with all tablet and mobile devices.  Some computers may need PDF reading software such as Adobe Acrobat.

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