Think of the dolphin kick in fly, as the metronome. The faster your legs kick—the faster your arms move. The moment your legs stop kicking—the stroke falls apart.
With each stroke in fly, swimmers get a dolphin kick at the top (when the hands enter the water, after they finish the recovery) and a second dolphin kick as the hands finish their pull—passing by their bellybuttons. It is the presence and intensity of the second kick that allows a swimmer to finish with a strong pull and have a “relaxed” recovery.
In order to successfully implement a second dolphin kick, a swimmer must do 3 things:
1.) Bend Their Knees:
If a swimmer does not bend their knees, there is no way their legs are in position to execute a second dolphin kick. Each swimmer must actively bring the heels back up towards their bum (through the up-kick) to have the ability to snap their feet through (the down-kick). In most single kick Butterflyers it requires deliberate practice of bending their knees, so they have the ability to snap through (the down-kick).
2.) Do NOT Stop Kicking!
From the moment they finish their first kick, the swimmer initiates their up-kick (by bending their knees) to ensure the execution of a second dolphin kick. After the second kick, a swimmer bends their knees to set back up for the first kick. This constant movement of the legs is what makes the kick a Butterflyer’s metronome AND why the lower body is responsible for the majority of the propulsion (the arms go through distinct phases of propulsion and recovery, while the legs never stop generating propulsion).
3.) Their 2nd Dolphin Kick Must Happen In-Sync with the End of Their Pull.
Making sure the second dolphin kick happens in correlation with the end of a swimmer’s pull is crucial for the stroke’s fluidity and timing. The second dolphin kick is the only kick that happens while the upper body is being raised out of the water. That means, it is harder to coordinate a second dolphin kick (versus the first kick) because you don’t have the upper body working with you (it is actually working against you).
Therefore, it is very important that you initiate your second dolphin kick as you are finishing your pull, because it will help get your arms above the water (through the recovery) and couple together those two propulsive movements (the down-kick with the finish of the pull) to get the upper body high enough out of the water for the breath.
Without these movements happening in-sync with one another, a swimmer will have to “muscle” through their recovery and in turn–will get a shorter breath.
Overall, the second dolphin kick is critical for a successfully Butterfly stroke.
All swimmers must have the thought of “constant kicking”. The constant kick will help eliminate any pauses within the arms cycle, it will get your arms over the water more relaxed through recovery, and generate more speed/power within each of their strokes!
CHECK OUT THESE VIDEO RESOURCES: