Teaching Butterfly by Dick Hannula (2000)


I’ll give you just a little bit more of my background. I started out teaching swimming, a red cross instructor. I was in high school and then in college and I worked summers.  When I went to my first coaching job and teaching job, was at Tacoma school at Lincoln school.  It was a four lane dungeon with no windows and just a wall one side and a wall on the end, and actually they thought the pool was just slow because the water was always about a foot and a half below the gutter level but they found out years later, after I left, that the pool was actually a foot long on top of everything else.  It was a slow pool in every sense of the word, but it was also a horrible place to be working.  You reach up and the ceiling was right there and there was no sound or acoustics, that is probably why all of this problem I have with the hearing now.


Anyway, my first team, one kid had swum for a YMCA for a little bit, just slightly I think, just one part of one season and it was a low level YMCA program and all the other kids came right out of classes. I wasn’t even teaching P.E. I just talked to them.  I was teaching commercial business courses at the time and I just talked kids into coming out and trying out for the team.  So the one thing I had to be, I had to be a teacher and actually that is all I did, I didn’t know anything about coaching anyway.  All I was trying to do is teach them how to swim.  I think that’s really important.  The sport is a technique oriented sport and I think that most of us especially in grass roots programs have to be teaching at all times, and I think most of us also know that if you get even to the Olympic level, people like to be assured and they can have little flaws, little things go wrong that still need to be corrected and brought back and adjusted, so this teaching business is very, very important.


One of the best talks I ever heard was from a fellow, many that don’t know of now, Howard Firby.  Some of you have heard of him, he had a book out at one time.  He was the Olympic coach for Canada.  He was their national director and their technique coach for a long time.  He is deceased now, but I heard him give a presentation one time.  It took a whole hour on just how to teach strokes and technique, not what to teach, but how to teach.  I think how you teach it is probably more important or as important as what you’re teaching, cause as I look back I had a lot of swimmers, I remember I was teaching things that were entirely, by today’s standards, entirely wrong and yet we got faster. And I did a pretty good job at teaching them how to swim and what would be considered now real errors. The important thing is to be consistent, persistent, in your teaching.


I’ll go through a few of the basic guidelines that I think are so important.  Why don’t we put that first, just simply how to teach.  These are some of the summaries I’ve made.  I think in coaching you have to teach first and train second.  I think you have to keep that fundamental in front of you at all times, and basics, practice fundamentals everyday. What I’m going to go through with you today in butterfly and then again in freestyle and I’ll try to mention it again is a little bit of a result of a lecture I heard by Bill Thompson down at a clinic in Northern California.


Basically he said conduct your own swim clinics for your own team, in other words you don’t need to send them off to a camp someplace go ahead and have a swim clinic of your own for your team members.  When I came back from that clinic I did that very thing with our club.  These were three hour clinics and the kids at the end of the team members at the end of the clinic and they were all members of the team came, and I was really surprised that all of the senior team came as well as the age groupers and they had to register to make it look like a real camp. In order to come they were supposed to pre-register and I made them stick to that. They had to pre-register and a very high percentage of the team signed up.


Repetition is the mother of skill. You can’t be afraid to repeat, repeat, repeat and when you’re talking technique you may have to change the word in your map to throw in a new word, a new gimmick or something and creating a word picture, but you need to repeat, repeat, and repeat. And patience is a coaching virtue.  I remember a coach one time, he had a kid and he turned out to be a great swimmer after he went to another club, but I know the coach was pushing him too hard, trying to make it happen too fast and if you lay in the total foundation and give it time and don’t try to make it happen but let it happen, do what needs to be done and then let it happen.  I don’t think I’m probably going to teach anybody anything they don’t already know today. What we do with what we already know is what is the most important, and what we are presently learning, that is the key to coaching success.


Most of us have all of the information that you need and then some.  It is just utilizing and taking care of as that information.  The next one is follow through, changing our patterns of behavior when necessary doing what needs to be done and in the best manner for doing it.  And then finding a genius coach is simply someone who focuses in a consistent way on what the coach is committed to do.  It boils down to persistence.  Somebody asked what was the reason, my high school teams, our high school teams had a 24 year run at winning the state championship in the State of Washington and as far as I know that is the longest winning record of any high school team in any sport, I could be wrong now because that could have changed, but nobody could dig it up at the time a number of years ago, but certainly the longest one in swimming and somebody asked one time what’s the reason for that.  I thought for a minute and I just thought of one word, persistence.  We were consistently persistent.


One season at the end and we started plugging our hole that we had on our team for the following year, and I think the other thing is you have to have models, if you are going to teach strokes you have to have a model, it may not be, every kid may not slip directly into that model that you have, but you have to have a model and a teaching model, you have to have a picture.  I remember saying that I used to look at the kids coming in and watching them swim and determining just what they would want that swimmer to look like, what I thought that swimmer could look like, in X number of years I remember watching, on occasion I would watch somebody that would turn out to be a real gem. I remember watching a ten year old boy swimming butterfly in the pool, across the pool and they were going 11 2/3rds yards in the cross pool section, that is all they were swimming, little shots 11 2/3rds yards and I came over right away to ask what that kid’s name was. It was one of the kids on our age group team he just started turning out and I said this kid has really got it, and luck would have it he turned out to be the number one high school butterflyer in the country for two years straight eventually.  So many of the other kids as you look at a swimmer, you can’t look at them and always say that hey, this kid hasn’t got it, you got to look at it and say what can this become, create a model in your mind and start working towards it.


O.K. another point I want to make right now is this, I was watching a practice just a couple weeks back, I’m retired now, from coaching but I’m still working on a part time volunteer basis.  This summer I did video tape and I bought an underwater camera for the team and I volunteered to do all the underwater video taping and critiquing it and I did that and I’m still doing that it looks like I can’t get out of it.  I had an $800.00 camera, that makes the whole thing work and that was out of my pocket.  But I was just, it turned out to be a good thing, now I’m video taping grand kids.  13 of them so I got a lot to do there.  But anyway, I’m still involved to some extent.


One of the projects we are working on with Nort Thorton that I think is really exciting and you might want to watch for that, we are co-editing a book in which different coaches around not this country but the world are contributing each a chapter on their specialty and that should be out next spring.  Having read the contributions to this point I think it’s the best book, I personally think it’s the best book that we will be producing, that probably is because I’m also involved in it, but nevertheless, you want to watch for that it will probably be out by next April or something like that.


Bill Sweetenham made a point, I worked with Bill in the Australian institute of sport when he was there several times and also in the Hong Kong institute when he was there and I have done some other work with him in the clinics and that sort of thing, but he says that you have to be, for a stroke to be correct, be 100% correct is a 100% O.K., 100% right, but if you are 90% correct you are 100% wrong.  I got that great point to look at, because I will tell you I was watching the age group swimmers and they were swimming 50’s and 100’s of butterfly long course and which I didn’t see a butterfly stroke out there.  I saw of people rehearsing and practicing a stroke that wasn’t butterfly and they were establishing a pattern of errors rather than some confidence in a stroke that was a butterfly stroke with some rhythm and breathing and moving down the pool.  When you say 100% correct you want to probably allow something for the learner, but in this case I couldn’t understand why the coach was having him swim 50 to 100 meters on the front either in fly by itself or on the front end of IM work.  And I thought to myself that adage about being 100% correct is 100% right.  And I think you have to be very, very careful, in other words in butterfly and Bill would emphasize this very strongly in butterfly, do distances that you could repeat in good form, do the drills that you can improve your butterfly in good form in excellent form.


One of the first things I think you need to teach before you even work on any of the strokes and especially in butterfly and it’s just as important in the other strokes and in butterfly it is extremely important is the streamlining drills, torpedo drills, the ability to get the back of the head and the back of the arms and the spine all lined up in one line.  And I’m going to show you, this is just a video tape I made some time back on kids on my team, I just picked one, but look at this streamlining: the back of the head, the arms from that position that is a tremendous streamlining position.  The back of the head is in line with the spine, same view with the front, total streamline position.  And we do this faithfully. Anyway I’m trying to give you a view of how important is in to streamline, I think you have to teach them that, I think you have to teach them that first, and you have to insist that every time you leave a wall they are in that position, and you will find that most of the people, I should have mentioned it there and this gets to be critical in the butterfly and I’ll come back to it at least once, but take the back of the head, if the back of the head is slightly tilted up it’s unhinged and we are going to be talking that in butterfly and that is the same true on your torpedo position off of the wall, if it is down below that straight line, through the back of the spine and the back of the head it’s unhinged and we’ll come back to that terminology.


Before we get into the stroke itself, we are still going along with some of the teaching guidelines, I think it is important, I think that you have to tell your swimmers exactly when it’s done right, not wrong.  In other words while they are doing things and whatever they are doing and they are doing it wrong, give them another drill another way of saying it, but try to tell them exactly what to do and what they’re doing things right and let them know, of course everybody knows, keep it short and simple because they can’t think that much, they can’t hear that much. Give them just a brief statement something to focus on and go after.


The third one that I think is really important, never reprimand a learner, and where I really got that is that book Putting the One Minute Manager To Work.  Every time I’ve ever talked in the last 10 years I’ve probably mentioned that thing, Putting The One Minute Manager To Work.  It’s a little pocket book.  In other words there is no use in chewing out a learner, it’s no use going after him if they haven’t learned there is a special formula to follow in a teaching pattern, in presenting a new technique or new stroke, if they haven’t learned it go back and start it and do it again.  So never reprimand a learner.


Watch your swimmers perform from several angles. Now this is true in the butterfly and it’s true in the other strokes, I think it’s super important.  One of my favorite spots, I used to have one of those high step ladders that I wouldn’t really want to be up on any longer but I would probably give it a try, I used to go up and sit on that, and it was about, it was at least 12 feet if it wasn’t higher, it was very high and I would go up and sit there and look down at the swimmers, I think it was real important.  Mike Troy said one time at a clinic you know we always thought Doc Counsilman was watching us every minute, no matter where we were in the pool we thought Doc was watching us and I’ve had swimmers tell me that.  They always think that I’m, if I’m doing something else like a I’ve got a clip board and I’m figuring out what I have to pick up at the grocery store for dinner tonight or something, they think I’m making notes on them, you know, they don’t get the picture on that, and normally I’m probably doing something that is involved with the swimming, I don’t want to give you the idea that I’m out there not paying any attention, but nevertheless they always think that you are looking at them.  And I think that you have to get into different spots in the pool to make that really clear.  You can see things from a high position in looking down but you can’t see from the pool deck, no way can you see from the pool deck.  I don’t think you should always be on the pool deck, I think there are times to get into the water, now if you have a good underwater, window or something else I don’t think that’s important, but I used to go down with the face mask and get into the water and surprise them in a way. I’d be laying on the bottom of the pool when they would swim over, but nevertheless you get another picture and they begin to focus more and more on what they’re doing, you have a chance to talk to them more about it. I would watch from the side of the pool and the other side of the pool and my favorite position I learned from Howard Firby to really look at stroke was simply to turn my back and try to look at them upside down, try to peer at the stroke by looking under my armpit like this, bent over, as I look at you now you don’t look the same as you did just a few seconds ago, everybody has a different look about them.  When you watch a swimming stroke it is amazing, it is amazing how much different. How many of you have done that?  Great.  I think in butterfly and backstroke I can see the flow o the water like I never noticed it before.  I can watch that water flow along the body of the lines like I’ve never see it at any other time and I’d advise everybody to try that. Sometimes I get in the mode where I’m doing it all the time and then I forget it for a month or two and I get back to it.  But it’s like running a picture of a racing start or something backwards or swimming backwards, a film backwards because you see a whole different view point of it.


And then always in teaching either praise or redirect.  In other words if they’re doing it right, if they are doing some things right tell them.  God, I think that’s important.  It is so important, to positively re-enforce when they are doing something correct.  And if they are not doing it correct then you re-direct them.  You re-direct them to one of the basic drills, maybe most of your swimmers don’t have to come back and do a certain type of drill that is really fundamental.  But that youngster that needs help probably has to go back and work some time, spend more time on the one arm drills or something else.


Helpful tips:  If a swimmer hasn’t learned then the teacher hasn’t taught.  Persistence but not picky.  I mean don’t chew a stroke a part, don’t pick for all the little things in the world, I mean your thumb is up, your thumb is in or your thumb is out, I mean some of these little things, the second finger is off the level of the 3rd finger or something.  I mean that’s really picky, try to direct your efforts on something that is fundamental to the stroke and then be very persistent at what you are doing there.  And then of course use stroke drills and progressions I don’t know a better way to teach technique, I can’t find a better way to teach to some, everything is a stroke drill practically. I think you have to use stroke drills and I think you have to use progressions in your stroke drills.  It depends on the level you are working with and then be specific and ask for feedback, ask them to tell you.  The best teaching, the most rapid teaching technique learning that I ever saw, accomplished with my swimmers is when they have to teach somebody else.  I knew I took one of my sons up to a clinic in Alaska one year when he was about a ninth grader and he was supposed to be demonstrating six beat crawl and he couldn’t do six beat crawl when we went up there, he did a four leg crossover and I frankly thought coming into high school in the short course swimming that he really needed to pick up a six beat crawl.  That was my model.  There were other people that didn’t fit that model that became very, very good and I encouraged them in the direction that they were going.  But I remember when he had to go to three different pools in one day for two hours at a time and demonstrate all of the drills, and teach these kids and by the time we got back from that weekend, he actually was doing the closest thing I saw to a six beat crawl ever, in one weekend.


Whenever we have these clinics that I’m talking about, when we ran our clinic for our own swimmers, on say the butterfly stroke, we had the senior team that were also attending the clinic also teach.  They helped teach, they demonstrated they helped teach to different spots, so we had every coach or maybe some of the swimmers working at different spots around the pool and all of the kids would go through each spot.  If we were doing butterfly kick, at one spot, and another spot where he was doing vertical butterfly kick, another spot we were doing one arm butterfly, another spot we were doing another butterfly technique, but the thing was each of the kids moved, if we had an hour, we would divide it up, we had 6 spots, or 7 or 8 we gave them 8 minutes at each spot, whatever we had in the clock and we’d move it.  Every teacher knew that they had 8 minutes to really hammer through one drill and get it right.  So I thought that was some of the best things that we’d ever done on our team.  Unfortunately it was right at the end of my coaching career.  I would love to have it in effect for a lot longer and carry it through over a longer period of time.


Many times, when a young swimmer tells you how they feel and what they have learned is when they understand it, and of course use words to create pictures, elbows up is a great illustration and it automatically gives you something to look at and think about, use your body parts to creates points, the same things holds true and always focus on one point at a time.  Coach at eye level as often as you can.   It, really shouldn’t be standing up six feet or 7 feet or 5 feet higher than somebody else doing your coaching.  There are times you need to kneel down, sit down the gutter edge maybe be in the water talking to them, eye ball to eye ball, I think that is very, very important in your coaching.


O.K. butterfly basics. In order to swim great with butterfly you must develop a great kick, there is nothing more true in that statement and I’ve heard that reiterated and reiterated and some great authorities, like Eddie Reese.  Several years ago he said if you want to swim great or compete at all, and obvious now and the same with backstroke it doesn’t hurt any stroke but with butterfly you have to develop a great kick.  We will go through some of the drills that do that.  I think that the key is what I’d like everybody thinking about in butterfly is the platform or the landing zone entry.  If there is one thing to look for in teaching fly and that is the one thing that I worked on, I just worked on a few things.  Hitting the landing zone and getting into a hinged head position.  I hate to use the word hinged, because it almost sounds like the neck is not relaxed, you’ve got to have a relaxed neck, but you have to get in this position that I talked about earlier, where the back of the head, and the back of the head spine are all in one line. And what I found with my butterflyers is that I‘ll find that some of them are hitting that landing zone with their head slightly elevated or they are hitting that landing zone with the head slightly depressed.  It doesn’t have to be much to be off of a platform.  Once you have thrown the arms forward the head and the arms are going into the water at close to the same time, the head is never going into the water after the arms.  But the head and the arms are going into the water roughly the same time.  And at that point it’s a throwaway, you are throwing your body weight forward and it’s so important cause you can cut off, anywhere from a few inches to a close to a foot of it in the distance on every stroke if that head is unhinged and create more resistance then you need to create.  So everything we talk about in here is coming back to looking at the landing zone, I call it the platform, hitting the straight line.


Arms and breathing. The arms enter the water, just slightly inside the shoulder, someplace between the shoulders and head.  But slightly inside the shoulder. Rhythm and balance are the keys to the stroke and not power itself. Reach long on entry and stay narrow on two planes, that was just inside the shoulders, anchor the elbows and lats and slide the body past the hands with the finger tips down, you want to be able to get in the position where those elbows come into the stroke at a point where they literally anchor and that you push the body.  The body is being driven past the arms on that pull.


Never unhinge, the head is the key, as much as possible during the swimming you want to be at that so called hinged position but with a relaxed neck.  And how you get that there, for one thing you gotta just keep talking to people til they get the point and you gotta work on the deck that little drill that I do, I always used to get in to the feel of that streamline position. Even with breathing you get back to that off the breathing.  The other thing I think to consider in the butterfly is breathe late in the arm pull, and the start of the recovery. Most of the drills that I have, the one arm drills are based on teaching you to breathe late in the arm pull. The elbow and karate chop hands away exit away from the body. Stretch the chin and chest down and forward on entry. I actually should have a pressure point.


Pablo Morales said that pressure points should be up in the forehead, so you feel it there. I think you should probably feel it in the chest, but you want to feel like the body is moving forward on the water and air but you’re still looking down, and the pressure point should be here, and in this hinge position your eyes are gonna be looking primarily down.


The first good points I got on butterfly talked about terms of doing more the stroking out in front and using the karate chop finish to get clear of the water, not to follow through so far that you got caught, in any way, shape, or form got caught in the stroke and had a struggle, and anyway to get them back forward. They should come free, they should fly. They should fly free, they shouldn’t have to lift some place, they shouldn’t have to lift to carry them out. The fly does these things that they are able to kick free, and as I found on my own team most of the kids couldn’t really swim butterfly anyway and they were struggling to get it and as we let them exit that much earlier especially the young kids, they got better and better at being able to get their stroke out front and get back to a new stroke, there is only so far you can carry that stroke where that is not going to begin to hurt you, that is what I felt then, and for a long time I felt very challenged about that, because everybody was teaching everybody to go back on the stroke, get as much distance on the back half, that is where the power is.  I kept hearing this, for the power.  What I’ve seen written from Pablo recently is that he talks in terms of these butterfliers now, Hyman, Jenny Thompson and the Russian and these people doing a front half butterfly, it’s a stroke that is concentrated on the front half, and that they don’t carry it back so far that they’re using their hands way sooner not latter.  They are falling about until it’s going out sooner to get back to the stroke out front.  And as I read this stuff, this is part of the book that I’m putting together and as I read this stuff I thought that was exactly what we are teaching quite a few years ago, so that I know for a fact too that I have one son who at age 14 couldn’t swim butterfly, couldn’t get his arms free.  The only way he could breathe was to get way back in here and everything stop trying to come out of the water and breath as the arms are coming forward to get a breath, and eventually became a butterflyer.  He was a national champion in the IM but I just got him to do this, shorten his stroke, to the point where he finds that he is learning to get free, and get it over and get it through.  I think that is going to vary with your individuals.   That doesn’t mean that you can’t follow the stroke back, it just means that you want to be able to follow it back that you can fly free, hands away, that karate chop that he used to call, he said just chop, chop, it was the way he expressed it, and it sounds kind of jerky and that sort of thing, it’s a nice smooth transition from a stroke to an extension out front.


Technique tips.  A butterfly sequence should be enter, stretch and then pull.  And that outward scull of the side of the stroke is where the fingers pointing down and it’s not real wide, it’s just outside of the shoulders, reach long, breathe late, that is about all I ever used to tell the kids, that was the one thing I kept saying over and over and over, reach long, breathe late.  And then set the rhythm with the kick.  Kick in, kick out, timing with the head and not the arms, you can get the feel of that if you are tying that more with a head and not the arms.  I think that was another approach that Howard Firby had that I thought was very, very good.


O.K. we are going to show just a little bit on video, it’s the next video, a Bill Sweetenham video. Now here is how you get how the kick is supposed to be delivered.  In other words this business of a kick that is continuous, a kick should be an up and down, this type of kick here, it is a faster quicker kick, rather than a full slow larger kick.  And I think this is one of the best illustrations put together in butterfly and he shows some fish kick and I thought it was particularly good and he also has some drills that he uses.  I think I’ve got the drills on this one that he uses in it.


We already talked about emphasizing torpedo position, I used to get up over on top of the lanes and they would see me, and especially when we did drills when they would have to do it on their back, we had a lot of drills where they would have to butterfly in on a technique drill and then come off pushing and kicking back butterfly and torpedo back butterfly on their back and they would have to look up at me as I was looking down on them.  And that makes a big difference too, because the incentive was for them to get that streamline, to get the body totally in line and the arms tight in behind the ears.


Here are the things that I think are important.  Underwater kicking drills for short distances on the front, back, and side.  I use the cross pool section in our pool, the diving tank which was 11 to 2/3rds yards I found it just great for that and the young kids, most all the young kids could go that distance, all the swimmers could go that distance of course, and it’s short but without fins and without the mono fin, they still had to hold their breath and they would have to do a number of them. The only way they are going to get a rest, is they would have to get across the pool quite rapidly so I find that they don’t over kick that thing.  You run them across the pool.  They get the point that they will keep that kick going and going fast and doing it every way possible.  The surface kicking drills is the same thing, but one of the surface kicking drills I always like to use, with the butterflyers, is to lock the thumbs behind the back and to put the head up out of the water and use the butterfly kick across the pool with the smaller kids.  And when the people got proficient with the length of the pool at the time and eventually they could use short fins too, any kinds of short fins.  But going across the pool with the head up and the thumbs locked behind the back there is no way to kick and there is no way to do it unless you keep the kick going.  There is no way you can break the kick off it’s gotta move, and that is one of the reasons why we do that.


The other ones are kicking drills underwater with a mono fin, short fins and doing them for speed and also doing them for just to emphasize how to quick/fast.  If they want to do it for time, the fastest way is to kick very quick and then of course vertical kicking drills, do that.  If you kick vertical kicking with or without fins or anything else and if you put your arms up straight and that sort of thing the only way you could do it vertical kicking and keep it going is to get those legs moving.  The other thing that I always believe is if you are going to use the kick board in butterfly kicking drills you should only use it if you are doing fast power kicking.  Avoid a slow lazy butterfly kick.  The butterfly kick is fast continuos and explosive over a relatively narrow range and you have to keep it so it is not wider than that body range, it’s gotta be in the range of the body, it should be in that general range.


Some of the drills that I used to use with the butterfliers I think it was 3 mornings a week, we would do a set that would either be in some combination of 1200 to 2000, it could have been 40 50’s or it could have been something in between, 75’s.  But basically we would have a set that we literary at least that week or do as many 100’s as they could up to 20.  As many 100’s as they could on the fastest send off possible, some days 16 and that sort of thing.  We actually had a boy and a girl that we had on the team, 2 of them with the kickboard and kick 20 100’s under 1:20 send off yards, short course yards.  Which is pretty good kicking and everybody got to the point where they could kick quite well, I think that it is very important that you don’t let them vote on that.


This is a video I did a number of years ago, I think the year is on there, but anyway I think it’s still good, because it shows the variations of one arm drills, it doesn’t show many one armed drills, but I think is one of the really important ones, this one here is four kick butterfly.  We do, you can do that 4, 5, 6 kick butterfly, get them to stretch out front and keep the kick going to break, and then coming back, switch and now I would have them kick further under water.  This before they were kicking underwater, but take a look at the torpedo effect there, where the arms are in behind the ears this sort of thing. They will probably show that from a couple of different angles. The reason we did things like buildup a kick butterfly, 4, 5, 6 kick butterfly, was simply to lengthen out, to reach really long and hit the platform position and really streamline out front and then of course coming back with this kind of thing.  If it was easy doing 4 kick butterfly or 5, or 6 kick butterfly, it was quite hard to come back and pump into the rapid kick on the back and still the streamlining drill in both direction, streamlining drills.  What I think is good about one arm variations is that you learn some technique to breathing late. I’ll emphasize that in just a minute, if you breathe to the side, you breath at the back half of that stroke and then when you breathe up front your tendency is to go ahead and hold that same timing.


I think that the bread and butter drill is variations of one armed butterfly, one of the best ones I think in teaching fly, cause they can do one, most every kid can do one arm butterfly, if they can’t do a full stroke, especially if they work off so many kicks and then build into the kick and stroke, but with one arm butterfly, that one didn’t show variations, but the one, one, one drill and buildup, where you take one stroke left breathe late to the side, one stroke right, breathe late to the side, one stroke forward, breathe late in the stroke and we build that up, one left, one right, two forward, one left one right and 3 forward and build it up to whatever number we can.  Usually if we are doing things like 400 IM repeats or anything a little longer we will get it up to where we do at least 5 strokes one, one, one, one, one two etc., up to where we do it up to at least five full strokes, you can do those a number of other ways.


There is another drill to use, to get this side breathing, is to do it with the arm back.  It is pretty hard to breathe, except late in the stroke here and that is one of Melvin Stewart’s favorite drills, one arm drills with one arm at the side.


We talked about the front end butterfly, the karate chop finish and there is a face and chin down in the platform during the recovery close to the same time of the arm entry.  Certainly the head never followed the arm.  Stretch the forehead and chest down and forward on entry and you feel like you are getting some distance on the stroke.  And then breath every two strokes and practice as much as you possibly can.  Everybody emphasize that and I think it’s a good way to get the rhythm, almost every great coach teaching butterfly emphasizes that.  There are people that certainly have to breathe, you can’t breathe, not everybody breathes every two strokes in 200 fly, and they have to be able to develop the rhythm. I’ve had some people who could swim great, great butterfly and great distances with butterfly and hold their stroke and they would breathe every stroke.


Drills that can help, perfect practice makes perfect, swimming, quality butterfly at all times.  First one showing there is your one arm swims with one arm forward and I’ve talked about that and we have demonstrated that and I think that is pretty well covered here.  The multiple kick butterfly, again I’ve already talked petty much about that.  One arm swims, one arm back talked about that.  Finally all the drills, I think it’s important to do some with fists, some with I paddles.  I think it’s very important to work with paddles in these drills, once they get to the point they are handling things, to get to the point where they can feel the exit and smooth and clean to be able to do it with paddles.  It’s very, very important in perfecting the stroke.


Here is a number of kicking drills, and some of these we’ve covered and some we haven’t mentioned I guess, but on the side, on the back, off the pool bottom.  I used to have a lot of contests where we would see how high we could get, we would see if we could hit the backstroke flag, by coming off the pool bottom in torpedo, that is one way to really get the streamline position, to come off as fast as you can.  And once you start doing that with the short fins or mono fins you could really get up and peck away at the backstroke flag, but the kids like, swimmers like that challenge, and that is a great way to get them to really fire up their kick.


Some of the ones that Bill Sweetenham had, he had some drills with arms folded.  Butterfly kick underwater with arms folded, arms folded here.  One legged butterfly kicks are a great way to teach beginners how to kick butterfly, cause if you asked them to kick butter kick they can do it, and then you tell them well now kick butter kick just with the right leg, and they can do it, and now kick butterkick with the left leg, they do it, now kick butter kick with both legs at the same time and you’ve got butterfly kick and normally that thing really works, it works pretty well.


Stroke drills, some of these, I’m going to go to the one arm variations, transition drills, the minimum number drills is one I think that everybody should work on too, and that is to determine to try to get people first to count the number of strokes, the fewest number of strokes that they can make the length of the pool on and then I think you have to work to optimize, so eventually you have to couple that with a time. The simplest way I always have was to count the strokes on a 50, it takes to go a 50 and get it down to the minimum number they can seem to do, and then to start timing the 50 and counting the strokes you can find the true numbers.  If they took 30 strokes and it took 30 seconds that combined number was 60 and if they were able to take, 28 strokes and do 31 seconds the slower time and the combine number was 59, the slower time was a better number and things like that, you are trying to get the minimum number of strokes coordinated with the time for the distance, to get the goal.  For repeat swims for example, take 3 times 50’s and count the stroke, count the number of strokes, and whatever they got, 30 and 30, 28 and 30, 29 and 32 they add up to 60, 58 and 61. So if you are going 20 50’s on a minute you try to attain 58, a combination of 58 on as many as possible and what we would do, what I used to do, is once the swimmer is on the team to get to 16 of 20, 16 or more, then I would have them re-test 3 times 50, in other words try to get a better minimum number try to improve on the minimum number.


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