~By Nate McBride
Several years ago I was in desperate need of finding a way to teach butterfly to adult swimmers...from scratch. Adult swimmers who, over the years, had lost ankle flexibility, core strength and rhythm. There wasn't much I could do about the first two except for dryland work whenever I could fit it in and ankle flexibility exercises that I was able to recommend to them. And well...rhythm...you either have it or you don't. If you don't, it's a constant struggle to do fly well but you can get there. These swimmers had been hounding me to teach them and I myself was getting more and more frustrated by the fact that I could not give them fly sets in workout. What to do what to do....I kept coming back to the possibility that I could teach them the same way I had taught my age groupers but then always rejected the idea because of the silliness/simplicity of those drills. Eventually though, desperation gave way to having no other choice. The results astounded me.
Using the same progression I developed for my age groupers, I took them through a 9-step fly progression which worked 100% and it took less than 6 workouts to do it. By the end, I had 7 new butterflyers and I could confidently give them fly to do in workout and they would get it done and get it done well. I had developed this progression when I was starting out as an Age Group coach more because it was fun and the kids thought they were getting a chance to goof around. A win for everyone in the Age Group world. Here it was again, with adults, and they loved it.
There are nine stages but the first five stages are actually bundled into one group. Now, fortunately, each time I have taught this progression to a new group of adults, I have had a pool at my disposal that had a shallow end. For the first stage (5 steps) of the progression you will need a part of the pool where the water is between 3.5 to 4 feet. You will also want to make sure everyone is a little bit spread out. In addition, no one may move to the next step until they have mastered the prior step. I devote the first day of every new fly progression to these exercises. Every subsequent day during the progression period, I send the swimmers to the shallow end to go through these exercises, in order, on their own while I get the rest of the pool started with workout. Its awesome to watch them down there helping each other out and doing the exercises on their own.
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