Teaching Butterfly Facebook Q&A

Missed out on the ‘Teaching Butterfly’ Facebook Q&A chat with our Aquatic Technical Team? Catch up on everything that happened here.

Here are the questions:

Teaching timing – and is the stroke fast breathing to the side?

Yes butterfly can be swum with side breathing; it is usually explosive however this is a swimmers preference. When teaching side breathing you must ensure the shoulders are kept square.

Build the progressions and elements up slowly. Kick in kick out, Kick the arms in, kick the arms out. Start over a width and slowly build up to swimming a length.

Rhythm? Is it 2 kicks per stroke? 1 kick?

Yes ideally it should be 2 kicks per arm cycle. A big kick flowed by a little kick. The big kick helps the arms come over the water while the little kick occurs as the arms are leaving the water. Kick in kick out, Kick the arms in, kick the arms out.

Do you have a tip for getting younger children to not lift their head too much when breathing? I find it relatively easy to get them to put their head low when head in water but when they breathe it’s always too high.

Returning to earlier breathing practices and breaking down the stroke more so you can emphasis the correct head position. This also comes with practice and confidence; butterfly can be a physically demanding stroke with lots of elements for younger learners to concentrate on. Leg action practices to help strengthen the legs for a stronger kick may also help.

  • Standing in shallow water/ walking across the pool- practicing the arm action with breathing allows the learner to concentrate on ‘head in head up’ and you can instruct them on the correct position
  • If you have a deck level pool, a toy or visual aid could be placed on the edge so learners could look towards it. This would only work over a short distance, a learner 25m away would struggle.
  • We would also recommend teaching butterfly with a side breathing action as this may be easier for the learners.

What age should you introduce fly – as guidelines appear to have changed?

Butterfly leg action or dolphin legs can be introduced from an early age. Many learners enjoy playing mermaids or dolphins within a lesson. The leg action can be practiced underwater, on the side as well as on the surface.

The arm action can be introduced when the learner is confident in the water and has some swimming ability. The arm action can be practiced with a flutter kick until learners are physically ready to swim the whole stroke. STA and ASA no longer state a certain age limit as it depends on each learners ability.

What can I do if a child’s eyes are too sensitive too pool water?

We would recommend the learner wears goggles throughout the lesson and rinses their eyes with cool water after and during the lesson if needed.

We would also ask that you speak to the pool manager about the water quality to see if the readings are too high or that particular learner just has sensitive eyes.

Advice on using fins and/or other swimming aids?

Fins/flippers can be a great addition to a lesson. They should be used over a short period of time not an entire lesson. They can help develop/ correct a leg action or give the learner some assistance while they focus on another element such as their arm action.

Swimming teachers must be aware of the increased risks to other learners assess the situation appropriately such as giving learners extra space to ensure they are not ‘caught’ with a fin. As long as swimming aids are used appropriately and to help achieve a learning outcome they can give a lesson variety, build confidence and can be used to help a learner focus. A swimming teacher should plan equipment use carefully and ensure all equipment meets the standards regulation.

Thank you for all the questions, and look out for more Q&As on our Facebook page.

Happy teaching!

– STA Aquatic Technical Team

Swimming Teaching

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