Teaching Butterfly Stroke
Many of the teachers at my pool have different qualifications to me, and many of them use woggles when teaching butterfly stroke. I was taught never to use a float for butterfly or it could damage my pupils’ backs. So I just wanted to know what sort of float if any would be appropriate to use when I am teaching butterfly.
There are many schools of thought on the use of floats for teaching butterfly.
The powerful leg kick and undulating body movement cause a small amount of pressure on the lower back even without a float. The use of a float may increase that pressure on the back due to the frontal resistance caused.
Personally my opinion is that it all depends on the size and ability of your pupil. Some pupils will naturally have a powerful leg kick and good undulating body action and therefore be able to learn and perform dolphin kick or even butterfly without the need for a float. This will more than likely be older children whom can already swim the other strokes fairly well.
There are of course those that have never tried butterfly or are very young, smaller and have less natural power. You can argue that it is these pupils that will need to use a float, be it a kick board or a woggle. After all we all had to start somewhere!
It is your judgement call as a swimming teacher and a professional to decide what is in the best interests of your pupils and what aids they need in order to learn. It is your job at the end of the day to ensure that your pupils
learn and progress.
If you decide a pupil requires a float to help them learn then you could instruct them to perform the exercise slowly, almost in slow motion. This will encourage them to learn the correct body movement and leg kick without the power and therefore without risk of pressure on their back.
Once they have learnt the correct movement slowly and gently, then they can progress to performing the exercise at the correct pace and with increased power, but without using a float.
It is important to treat your pupils as individuals, particularly when it comes to butterfly stroke. This can be difficult sometimes especially when teaching a group lesson because you may need them to all perform the same exercise simultaneously.
The important thing is to make it fun, which should in the forefront of most swimming lessons. Make your butterfly lessons fun by having ‘dolphin races’ or ‘who can be the best dolphin or mermaid’ competition or even ‘who can do the biggest dolphin kicks’.
The point is to put some fun into what is essentially a very tiring and very difficult stroke to learn, even more so for a child.
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