Common Butterfly Swimming Mistakes


Butterfly technique can be confusing for some swimmers. Also, trying to figure out what butterfly stroke mistakes you’re making can be even harder than the stroke itself. Sometimes, you might think that you are doing everything right, but you just don’t feel that you’re accelerating. We gathered common butterfly mistakes you need to pay attention to.  Keep reading to find out solutions to fixing these irregularities in your stroke!

Common Butterfly Mistakes

Usually, when swimming butterfly, people have problems with these:

  • Head position
  • Body position
  • Legs
  • Arms

Fixing your stroke will require you to pay close attention to whether you’re making a mistake in any of these categories.

Head Position

You are supposed to look down, not forward. When swimming, you probably like to see where you’re going. However, you will have to push this urge aside if you want to swim butterfly correctly. If you’re not looking down, you will be limiting the body roll, which then forces your hips to sink in the water. Swimming like this will make you feel flat and rigid in the water.

How to fix it?

Look down and follow the black line in the pool (of course, you will need swimming goggles for this). You will be relaxing your neck while doing this. Also, this will make you feel less rigid in the water while providing your body with some mobility. Test it out if you’re not sure whether your head is in the right position. Leave your arms at your side and do a lap of body roll. Look at the end of the pool for the first half of the lap. Then, start looking at the black line for the second half. You should be able to feel the difference immediately after comparing these two head positions

Body Position

Flat swimming is one of the most common butterfly mistakes. Improper head position is the main cause of why your body is not rolling well. Also, a lack of chest or hip movement can lead to rolling your body too little. The stroke’s foundation should be the body roll. Focus on it and try rolling as much as you can. Relying mostly on your legs and arms to move through the water is bad, and this will happen if you roll too little. Swimming like this for an extended period can lead to shoulder injuries (that you want to prevent), but also make you exhausted much faster.

How to fix it?

Leave your arms at your sides for a start. Look down toward the black line, push off the wall, and begin rolling. Start pressing your feet, hips, chest, and chin. Feeling a rippling flow through your body shouldn’t surprise you. Don’t rely solely on the kick to get you through the pool. Use your hips and chest to accelerate, and keep thinking about what your body is doing.



As you may already know, your legs act to make you swim faster freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke.  On the other hand, when it comes to butterflies, your body acts as a propeller. This is one of the most common butterfly stroke mistakes swimmers make – trying to use legs the same way as with other techniques. Relying heavily on your legs will probably result in a flat position, which is followed by exhaustion.

How to fix it?

Start by practicing on your back so you’re able to see your kicks. Pay attention to your knees and whether they’re getting out of the water. You will know whether you’re bending them too much when doing this. Exaggerate the body roll, but keep your kicks small. Start using swim fins when you’re ready for more power.


The pit of your elbows will be exposed if you aim your thumbs forward. This is one of the common butterfly mistakes that people can’t improve. Your elbows will bend if you allow the water to pelt inside them, and this will happen if you bring your arms over the surface. Getting your arms over the surface will be more difficult too, which will force them to drag through the water.

How to fix it?

Your thumbs should be facing down. Locking your elbows should be much easier if you do this. Besides, recovering out of the water should also be easier when the water is not pelting your inner elbows. Practice swimming butterfly with one arm to get the hang of this. Perform the stroke only with your right arm while leaving your left arm at your side. Swimming paddles are usually not very useful when it comes to this technique, so you won’t need them.


Q: Why is butterfly the most difficult stroke?


Butterfly technique requires more than 50 muscles working at the same time in order for it to be effective. You will be exhausted very fast if you’re not using only one of these muscles the proper way. A powerful butterfly stroke requires a strong core, glutes, and shoulders.

Q: How can I improve my butterfly stroke?


Improving the technique is crucial if you want to get better at the butterfly. Arm movement, kicking, and turning are the main parts of the stroke. Still, you shouldn’t forget about proper breathing and how frequent you are inhaling during the stroke.

Q: Should you breathe every stroke in the butterfly?


Usually, swimmers are instructed to take a breath every 2 strokes when they swim butterfly. By doing this you will give yourself enough time to exhale the air and prepare for the next inhale. Make sure that you leave no air in your lungs because you will be able to inhale faster.

Q: How do you make a butterfly faster?


There are 3 main parts of the stroke you need to focus on – strong kick, coupling motions, and shoulder elevation. There is no butterfly stroke without a good kick. The two coupling motions executed well will result in a huge surge of velocity. Elevating your shoulders too much when coming out for breath will slow you down a lot.

Globo Surf Overview

Making butterfly stroke mistakes is a common thing among swimmers. It can be quite hard to fix them if you’re already used to swimming the wrong way. However, if you pay attention to your body you should be able to see the improvement only after a couple of swimming sessions. Test whether you’re making mistakes in any of the above-mentioned categories and you start working on fixing them as soon as you indicate where the problem is.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!