FINIS Tip Of The Week: Butterfly Catch

Welcome to the “FINIS Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), each tip is meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

This week’s tip gives you some suggestions for getting the most out of your butterfly pull by setting up a strong catch in your stroke.

The catch really begins the moment your hands enter the water at the end of your recovery. Once your hands enter the water, your fingertips should drop to point to the bottom of the pool and palms should be facing behind you. This will establish a strong point of contact with the water that will engage your whole arm and maximize the water you are able to move.

Keep your palms facing behind you as your arms go wide to initiate the pull. Think of drawing a key hole with your arms, always while pushing water behind you as your arms push through the shape.

There are a lot of parallels to the high elbow catch you want in freestyle. Bend at the elbow to get as vertical a forearm as possible with a high elbow position under the water, and make sure you are not driving your head too far down. It is actually okay to look a bit forward at this point in the stroke as you set up for a breath, as long as you are thinking about driving forward, not up, with your stroke.

When done correctly, it should feel like you are digging into the water and using the catch to drive your body forward with every stroke. Happy swimming!

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

2 Comments

2 comments

  1. Neil Morgan

    I didn’t think anyone taught the keyhole shape anymore. I’m just hearing from coaches about high elbows and pull straight through. There’s probably a bit of a keyhole shape anyway, but emphasis is normally on high elbow catch and the power diamond in the middle of the stroke.

Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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