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Step #1: Butterfly Body Position
For twenty years I used to teach butterfly by starting with the kick. But I’ve found that I can get to this a lot quicker if I teach body position first, then arms, then kick.

To teach body position from on deck, I start with the swimmers on deck. Have them stand with their arms extended overhead and with a natural curve in the lower spine.

The head should be in a neutral position, with eyes looking straight ahead. Make sure the swimmer is not tucking the chin.

Position their arms straight up over the shoulders and at shoulder width, or just a little wider.

The palms should face forward -- with a slight pitch outward.

The fingers should point straight up or ...with the wrist flexed a little… the fingers can point slightly to the side.

Now, tell the swimmers to bring their arms back so that the shoulders are in-line with or slightly behind the ears. Don’t let them tuck the chin.

If swimmers have trouble with this position while standing, have them try it lying down. Have them lie face down with the chest on one kick board and the hips on four kickboards. The feet should be hanging DOWN, with toes touching the ground. A swimmer who looks like this has a butterfly body.

Next, go to the water and find that same position, with the swimmer standing on the bottom.

Then, have the swimmer fall forward into the butterfly float.

This is the soft landing position of the arms. This is where the arms will land on every stroke of butterfly. The landing will be soft and, during the learning phase, they’ll land in this position and pause.

Have the swimmers repeat the process. Stand and get the arms in position, then fall into the butterfly float. Shoulders are in line with the ears. Arms are extended, and hands are positioned at shoulder width or a little wider.

The head is in neutral. The eyes look straight down. Start by having the swimmers learn this key body position.