Courtesy of Headstrong Posture Trainer, a SwimSwam partner.
The head position throughout the butterfly stroke can be a major limiting factor in your stroke. Keeping the head looking forward too much will lead to a sinking of your hips, which increases your drag in the water ultimately causing you to swim slower. The most efficient head position while swimming the butterfly is when your head is in a neutral, facedown position. Your eyes should be looking straight down at the bottom of the pool. This head position will help to keep your hips high in the water as opposed to sinking toward the bottom of the pool. You should try to maintain a facedown neutral head position keeping your head stable unless lifting it to breathe. When breathing forward be sure not to pick your head up too much as this will drop your hips leading to an increase in your drag coefficient.
Butterfly Head and Body Position Drill
To improve your butterfly head position, perform the Head Lead Body Dolphin Drill prior to your butterfly workouts. This drill will enable you to focus on your head and body position by taking your arms out of the equation. You will also be able to find the head position that causes your hips to sink when breathing so you can avoid it while swimming. If you are struggling with this drill, it is perfectly acceptable to start with fins on to figure out the feel of the undulating motion.
- Start by floating on your stomach at the surface of the water with your hands by your sides. While keeping your head in a neutral position, in line with your spine, press your chest downward a few inches and then relax your chest and allow your back to resurface. As you press the chest down, your hips should naturally rise up. If your head is not in a neutral position you may not feel this rising of the hips. Try not to add a kick. Just let your legs follow the hips in the undulating motion started from pushing your chest downward.
- Progress down the pool by repeating this press and relax pattern so that the body begins to flow in an undulating motion.
- When learning this drill, try to get the undulating motion down a few times then pause to take your breath. As you become more comfortable with the drill, try to breathe without breaking the rhythm of your undulation and allowing your hips to drop.
Another effective and quick way to optimize head position while swimming butterfly is through the use of drills in combination with the Head Strong Posture Trainer. The Head Strong Posture Trainer can be worn comfortably throughout a practice. The Head Strong Posture Trainer provides real time feedback. When your head lifts beyond the optimal position causing your hips to drop during butterfly, the Head Strong Posture Trainer will gently tap you on the back signaling you to relax your neck because your body is out of alignment.
Perform the mini drill set below while wearing your Head Strong Posture Trainer:
- 4x 75 @ :10 rest alternating 25 Head Lead Body Dolphin Drill/25 Hand Lead Body Dolphin Drill/25 Butterfly swim
- 4×50 @ :10 rest alternating 50 Head Lead Body Dolphin Drill/50 Butterfly swim
- 8×25 @ :10 rest 1 Head Lead Body Dolphin Drill/3 Butterfly Swim
About Endurance Swimming and Head Strong Posture Trainer:
Head Strong™ was developed by Craig Lewin and his team of swimmers at Endurance Swimming. Through his coaching, Craig realized that head position was the most common technical error that hinders efficient swimming. This resulted in the idea for the Head Strong Posture Trainer. This simple device is worn around a swimmer’s head, like goggles, to ensure proper head positioning in the water, aiding in the correction of total body posture. Head Strong Posture Trainer has played a large role in helping his swimmers improve their race times and enabled one of his swimmers to successfully swim across the English Channel. Craig is a USA Swimming Coach and Level 2 USA Cycling Coach, with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Movement Science, Economics and Sociology. As an alumni of Boston College’s Varsity D1 Swim Team, a 70.3 World Championship Qualifier and open water marathon swimmer, his swim expertise and coaching helps hundreds of athletes become successful competitors in the sports of swimming and triathlon. Follow him on twitter @enduranceswim and “Like” Endurance Swimming on Facebook.