FINIS Tip Of The Week: Single Arm Butterfly Progression

This week’s FINIS Tip of the Week is a single arm butterfly drill progression that can help your your swimmers find a more balanced body undulation while also progressing into adding tempo work.

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 is a single arm butterfly drill progression that can help your your swimmers find a more balanced body undulation while also progressing into adding tempo work.

The base drill for the progression is 3-3-3: 3 right arm strokes, 3 left arm strokes, and 3 full cycle strokes. Start with this cycle, and then descend either by 25’s or 50’s to 2 right, 2 left, 2 full (2-2-2), and then 1 right, 1 left, 1 full (1-1-1). An example of this written out for a practice may look like the following:

8 x 25 butterfly drill progression
     #1-2: 3R/3L/3 dbl
     #3-4: 2R/2L/2 dbl
     #5-6: 1R/1L/1 dbl
     #7-8: smooth butterfly

Use the single arm butterfly strokes to work on a high catch, a forward press, and exaggerating rolling the hips forward within the stroke before trying to put it all together on the full cycles. As the number of strokes goes down, think about increasing the stroke tempo while also staying fluid as you transition from cycle to cycle.

This is also a very effective progression to use in a long course pool, as you can complete the full progression within a single length. Aside from being a bit more challenging, this variation will give your swimmers a better sense of how to increase their tempo and accelerate within a length while staying smooth. 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.

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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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