Butterfly Stroke Body Movement

Have you ever wondered how butterfly stroke body movement is performed so smoothly and elegantly?  The secret lies in the swimming action of the dolphin. 

dolphin swimming action

Although we are not able to leap over the surface of the water like a dolphin, we are able to mimic the way it moves its body from nose to tail. 

When we swim butterfly, our body should undulate from head to toe, producing a dolphin-type action.  This type of movement gives the stroke smooth and seamless action.


Butterfly stroke body movement for beginners

The body movement for butterfly stroke is a continuous undulating action that requires strength and power.  When performed correctly, the movement provides the propulsion and drive needed to keep the overall stroke smooth and efficient. 

Butterfly Stroke Body Movement Video Demo



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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.


Although the movement initiates at the head, it begins as a relatively small movement when practised alone without the arm action.  As the undulation progresses through the abdominal area and to the hips, the movement becomes larger and more pronounced.

The up and down movement of the hips are very much the driving force behind the undulating motion, finishing with a large bend of the knees and the powerful downward kick of the legs.

Top 5 Tips for an effective body movement. 

1.  The body position should be kept as horizontal as possible to keep frontal resistance to a minimum. 

2.  The body should be face down (prone) with the crown of the head leading the action.

3.  The shoulders should remain level throughout and the head should remain central and still, looking down until breathing is required.

4.  Hips should remain parallel to the direction of travel and be inline with the shoulders.

5.   Intermittent or alternating breathing will help to maintain a smooth and steady movement.

The Number 1 Most Common Mistake...

The most common mistake made when performing the movement is making the undulation up and down too excessive. 

As the movement originates from the head there is a tendency to over exaggerate this movement, causing the wave movement through the rest of the body to be over pronounced. 

The swimmer then puts more effort and energy into moving up and down instead of actually swimming forwards.

A simple push and glide exercise from the poolside followed by a gentle undulating movement across the surface of the water help to eliminate any excessive body movements.

If the swimmer places the effort on using the undulation to move forward then this will provide a solid base from which to build and perfect the swimming stroke.

Check and Improve Your Body Position With These Exercises

Download these documents to your computer, tablet or mobile device and get your body position and movement absolutely right using the technique tips and key focus points. 

Holding the poolside

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Body movement from push and glide

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Dolphin dives

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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.

The other parts of butterfly stroke...

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