Butterfly Timing & Coordination

Is your butterfly stroke letting you down?  Do you suspect that your butterfly timing is to blame?  Coordinating the arm pulls and leg kick with the body movement and breathing is key cutting through the water with ease and perfection. 

Butterfly timing and coordination for beginners to learn

Butterfly timing and coordination cycles should contain 2 leg kicks to 1 arm cycle where the first kick occurs when the arms are forward and the second kick when they have pulled back.  Correct timing and coordination are essential for a smooth easy butterfly stroke.

Butterfly Timing Video Demonstration

When To Kick and When To Pull?

The downbeat of the first leg kick occurs at the catch and down sweep phase.  Both arms will have been in the air during recovery, causing the hips to sink.  The subsequent kick should be strong enough to counter balance this hip movement.

The second downbeat leg kick occurs during the powerful and accelerating upsweep phase of the arm cycle. During this movement, the feet react towards the hands and the strength will contribute towards propulsion.

Butterfly swimming stroke timing and coordination

Breathing can occur every stroke cycle or every other stroke cycle, but should not interrupt the flow of the leg kick and arm pull timing cycles.

A simple breakdown of the arm pull and leg kick coordination for butterfly is:

Kick - Pull - Kick - Recover

The 2 Most Common Butterfly Timing Mistakes

  1. The swimmer attempts to kick and pull at the same time.  There should be a delay from the leg kick as the arms pull, so that the first powerful leg kick assists the arms recovery. 
  2. Beginners learning butterfly tend to miss out the second supporting leg kick as the arms recover.  
Fast track to instantly download butterfly stroke ebook

Fast track to my Solution Focused Butterfly eBook 

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.

A good way to practice and develop the timing for this stroke it to swim using a butterfly leg kick and a breaststroke arm pull.  This uses less energy because breaststroke arms recover under the water surface. 

Therefore it is an ideal way to ensure that there are two leg kicks for each arm pull, where one leg kick assists the body to rise and breathe, and the other smaller leg kick assists the arms to recover.

This exercise is great for establishing a sense of rhythm to the stroke, and if practised well enough, that rhythm can become second nature.

Once this exercise is perfected then the swimmer can reintroduce butterfly arms into the stroke and maintain the timing and coordination pattern.

How Does Timing And Coordination Fit In The Whole Stroke?

Download this document to your computer, tablet and mobile device and use the technique tips and focus points to get your timing and coordination absolutely right.

Timing during the full stroke


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.

Butterfly stroke parts in more detail...

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