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  #1  
Old 12-30-2013
Danny Danny is offline
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Default butterfly with your hands closed in a fist

I am trying to shift the emphasis in my stroke more to body rhythm and less from the arms, so I have started doing butterfly with my hands closed in a fist. I also found that this impacts my stroke even when I am dolphin kicking with my arms stretched out in front of me. Apparently I have been doing a lot of balance and weight shifting with my hands.

Has anyone played around with this type of drill? I would be interested in other people's experiences with it.
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  #2  
Old 01-10-2014
Superfly Superfly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
I am trying to shift the emphasis in my stroke more to body rhythm and less from the arms, so I have started doing butterfly with my hands closed in a fist. I also found that this impacts my stroke even when I am dolphin kicking with my arms stretched out in front of me. Apparently I have been doing a lot of balance and weight shifting with my hands.

Has anyone played around with this type of drill? I would be interested in other people's experiences with it.
Hi Danny,

I've closed my hands into fists many times for sculling exercises. This greatly helps to feel the forearms. So it's a great drill in that context.

Also, I've tried this drill successfully with the other strokes, but I'm leery of closing my hands in Butterfly. The reason is that I feel that this keeps tension in my wrists during the recovery. This may be the reason: I flick my hands forward during Butterfly recovery and it feels odd to do it with closed hands. It feels like it's not releasing the tension.

I think that the best drill for learning the Butterfly rhythm is the Arm-lead Body Dolphin (AKA: Body Undulation), either on the surface or underwater. It's easier on the surface as you get a breath on every cycle.
The details are important:
The down beat is easy to grasp, but the up beat is just as important but is often overlooked. You know you're doing it right when your arms remain relaxed, and you feel water touching your back and then your chest, in a constant rhythmic pattern.
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  #3  
Old 01-11-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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Thanks for the comments. I do the arm lead Body Dolphin a lot, and recently I found a trick that made it very easy. When I kick after my head comes up to breath, that usually drives my body deeper into the water. By simply waiting until I naturally bob to the surface and coordinating that with breathing makes the process very easy. You can time the cadence of your kicking by varying the depth you drive yourself downward with the kick. By timing the upbeat, you can also use it to raise your head to breath.

However, recently someone commented that there was very little undulation in my stroke and that I was using my arms too much. (in fly, not in no-arms) So I started thinking that this passive bobbing that I described above is not really undulation.So I am trying arm lead Body Dolphin also with my hands in a fist. I have also tried it with my hand against my body, down at my hips, and this is very difficult. So much so, that I tensed up and had the feeling I wasn't relaxed enough to learn anything. The question then becomes how do I teach myself to rely more on my undulation and less on my arms. Any thoughts?

By tne way, I am also told that this is much harder for old people (like me) because we lose flexibility in our backs. Not sure how much that is the case for me, but it is a possibility.

Last edited by Danny : 01-11-2014 at 08:58 PM.
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  #4  
Old 01-11-2014
Superfly Superfly is offline
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Butterfly is not a power stroke, but is definitely a rhythm stroke. That said, it does require a certain amount of strength and flexibility.

I don't know how strong or flexible you are, but you might have to make some adjustments and be content with your own style of Butterfly.

I recently read that Gary Hall Sr. (the Olympic Butterfly champion from the '60s) had to modify his Butterfly style because he felt that his legs were no longer strong enough to support his existing style.

Still, flexibility is important at any age, so it's good to stretch daily. But follow through with some strength exercises.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Thanks for the comments. I do the arm lead Body Dolphin a lot, and recently I found a trick that made it very easy. When I kick after my head comes up to breath, that usually drives my body deeper into the water. By simply waiting until I naturally bob to the surface and coordinating that with breathing makes the process very easy. You can time the cadence of your kicking by varying the depth you drive yourself downward with the kick. By timing the upbeat, you can also use it to raise your head to breath.

However, recently someone commented that there was very little undulation in my stroke and that I was using my arms too much. (in fly, not in no-arms) So I started thinking that this passive bobbing that I described above is not really undulation.So I am trying arm lead Body Dolphin also with my hands in a fist. I have also tried it with my hand against my body, down at my hips, and this is very difficult. So much so, that I tensed up and had the feeling I wasn't relaxed enough to learn anything. The question then becomes how do I teach myself to rely more on my undulation and less on my arms. Any thoughts?
What you described as "passive bobbing" is probably because you aren't body kicking up. There is no passivity in body dolphin. You are actively engaging the body core at all times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
By tne way, I am also told that this is much harder for old people (like me) because we lose flexibility in our backs. Not sure how much that is the case for me, but it is a possibility.
Yes, the Arm-Lead Body Dolphin does require flexibility. I have personally improved by Body Dolphin by practicing Yoga daily. Also, I use a large fibreglass fin to gain core strength, along with running. Flexibility doesn't help much without adding strength.

Think of muscles as rubber bands: You want the rubber band to stretch further but be thick enough so not to tear. Also, thicker rubber bands can store more potential energy when stretched.

Last edited by Superfly : 01-11-2014 at 11:21 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfly View Post

What you described as "passive bobbing" is probably because you aren't body kicking up. There is no passivity in body dolphin. You are actively engaging the body core at all times.
It is perhaps here where flexibility in my back becomes an issue. Would you say that someone should be able to execute a back-bend as a floor exercise in order to get this part of the undulation properly? If so, then that my be out of my reach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfly View Post

Yes, the Arm-Lead Body Dolphin does require flexibility. I have personally improved by Body Dolphin by practicing Yoga daily. Also, I use a large fibreglass fin to gain core strength, along with running. Flexibility doesn't help much without adding strength.
Where can I get this large fibreglass fin? Are they expensive?
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2014
Superfly Superfly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
It is perhaps here where flexibility in my back becomes an issue. Would you say that someone should be able to execute a back-bend as a floor exercise in order to get this part of the undulation properly? If so, then that my be out of my reach.
Don't go crazy! Backbends are advanced and can lead to injury. Don't do it! Start with the basics such as "Thunderbolt Pose" and work up to the intermediate "Hero Pose".

The spine/hip connection is the most important part. See this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go0VLjy4fN0

Take the time to find the neutral pelvis and become familiar with it. This is the key for body undulation. Once you do, you can rock back and forth smoothly in this pose.


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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Where can I get this large fibreglass fin? Are they expensive?
I don't know why I mentioned the fibreglass monofin. You don't need it at this stage. It is for strength building only, but flexibility and awareness need to be developed before that or you can hurt yourself.

Last edited by Superfly : 01-13-2014 at 04:41 PM.
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  #7  
Old 01-14-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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The thunderbolt pose is something I have been doing for some years, primarily as a way to stretch my quads and my ankles. I do have to be careful in doing this, because if I try to go into it too fast I feel it in my lower back, but by being patient and working with my pelvic muscles this isn't a problem.

The hero pose sounds interesting and I will try it.

I realized after my last post the I have a pair of fairly large fins which I can use to try to do body dolphin with my hands down at my sides. The problem I have always had with this kind of practice is that a 25 yd pool is a little short to do this--you reach the end of the pool too fast.

Anyway, thanks for the advice. I will keep working on it.
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  #8  
Old 01-15-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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The above discussion led me today to focus on my pelvic position while dolphin kicking, and I discovered that until now I had been focusing more on my back and legs. The new focus immediately pointed out some issues I have, where my pelvic position is not well timed to my kick, especially on the upbeat. Correcting this problem will require some work, but I already have the feeling that it is giving me some new control over my body position and helping my stroke. Thanks!
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  #9  
Old 02-28-2014
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
However, recently someone commented that there was very little undulation in my stroke and that I was using my arms too much. (in fly, not in no-arms) So I started thinking that this passive bobbing that I described above is not really undulation.So I am trying arm lead Body Dolphin also with my hands in a fist. I have also tried it with my hand against my body, down at my hips, and this is very difficult. So much so, that I tensed up and had the feeling I wasn't relaxed enough to learn anything. The question then becomes how do I teach myself to rely more on my undulation and less on my arms. Any thoughts?
I would love to see your fly. Because I've heard this (fallacious) comment a number of times re my own fly. The magnitude of the undulation should in my opinion vary along with the swim pace. I don't see much benefit in undulating more than required to swim at the pace you're swimming.

Be very careful with the feedback you're getting from here and there. If it comes from someone that's not capable of performing the 200m, then hmm....

@Superfly, you definitely deserve your nick. I love your take on most aspects covered in this discussion, especially this mention about fly being a rhythmic stroke, more than a power stroke.
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  #10  
Old 05-12-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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perhaps a postscript to this whole discussion. Recently someone filmed me underwater doing butterfly and I learned a lot from watching myself. What I noticed was that I was hardly bending at the hips. So I started focussing on finishing my kick with my butt up and an angle in the hips. Then concentrating on using the upsweep as well to control body position. This has helped me enormously. By bending my knees and at the hips on the downkick, there is less leg resistance to raising my shoulders to come out of the water. In addition, the kick from this position makes the arm recovery much easier. In short, I feel like I am doing much more with the legs now and much less with the arms. Still get out of breath, though, after 25 yds. If I just take a short pause then before resuming, I have no trouble getting in several hundred yds, but I don't think I can put together 50 without a rest to catch my breath. May be that I just don't have the cardio conditioning any more, not sure.
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