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Butterfly Kick Swimming - AKA The Dolphin Kick

Butterfly Kick Swimming is The Hardest To Learn

If my complaint about how people teach the butterfly is largely to do with the arms, why would I spend time on the butterfly kick swimming?

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

Because frankly, the kick, also know as dolphin kick, is the hardest thing to learn.

It sounds simple: kick both legs at the same time.

But most people have way too much bend in their knee when they kick to do it successfully and the problem with the pictures are that they don't show the downward thrust clearly.

For example, looking at Fig 1a and 1b, it seems like the swimmer is simply bending their knee when they kick. But the kick cannot come from the lower leg alone.

Image of a girl doing the up action of butterfly kick swimming or dolphin kick
Fig 1a: Dolphin Kick Up Action

Image of a girl doing the down action of butterfly kick swimming or dolphin kick
Fig 1b: Dolphin Kick Down Action

The Upper Part of The Leg

The upper part of the leg, nearest your bottom (posterior, tail, the part of your body you sit on) and the bottom itself (ditto), have the strongest muscles. If we are going to ignore the use of these muscles then we are losing most of our kicking power.

There is nothing wrong with the picture it just needs to explain that your upper legs also move with the kick. In fact they must move as much as you possibly can move them, in order to get the most power from your kick.

If you stand up and put both feet firmly on the bottom of the pool and thrust your hips forward, then thrust them backwards and repeat the action several times, you will begin to get the idea of what your leg action should be, except the bent knees.

Image of a swimmer doing a backward hip swing. Forcing her hips backward
Backward Hip Swing

Image of a swimmer doing a forward hip swing. Forcing her hips forward
Forward Hip Swing

The Result

The result is that you actually get two kicks for the price of one. The first with the hips and the second with the legs, from the knees.

Once you think you have the hang of the kick on your back it's time to practice it on your front in the torpedo position (above).
Image of a young swimmer practicing his dolphin kick on his back
Dolphin Kick Practice On Your Back
Once you think that you have the hang of the kick on your front doing a torpedo, then it's time to take a look at your stroke

In the end you can do a butterfly without the kick but a good kick sure helps.


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