How to Do a Breaststroke or Butterfly Turn: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Speed and efficiency are the holy grail of swimming. Every swimmer strives to swim faster, more efficiently, and with less effort. One way to achieve this is by mastering the turn. A flawless turn can make a significant difference in a race, allowing swimmers to maintain their speed, reduce drag, and propel themselves to victory. In this article, we will explore techniques and tips to help you achieve speed and efficiency with a flawless turn.

swimmer doing a breaststroke or butterfly turn

Understanding the Impact of a Flawless Turn

A flawless turn can have a profound impact on your swimming performance:

  1. Speed maintenance: A well-executed turn allows you to maintain your speed and momentum during a race. By using the turn to transition smoothly from one lap to another, you can conserve energy and swim faster.
  2. Drag reduction: The turn provides an opportunity to minimize drag and maximize glide. By streamlining your body position and reducing resistance, you can swim more efficiently and reduce the impact of drag.
  3. Energy conservation: A flawless turn allows you to conserve energy by taking advantage of the momentum generated from the push-off. This energy conservation translates into improved speed and endurance throughout the race.

Technique Breakdown: Elements of a Flawless Turn

To achieve speed and efficiency with a flawless turn, focus on the following key elements:

  1. Approach: Maintain a strong and controlled stroke as you approach the wall. This ensures that you have sufficient speed and momentum for a powerful turn.
  2. Timing: Time your arm pull, kick, and breathing to maximize forward momentum just before reaching the wall. Proper timing is crucial for maintaining speed and efficiency during the turn.
  3. Body position: Tuck your chin into your chest and bring your legs up towards your chest as you near the wall. This alignment of the body reduces drag and allows for a smooth transition into the turn.
  4. Touch the wall: As your legs reach your chest, extend your arms forward and touch the wall with both hands simultaneously. This is the moment when you initiate the turn.
  5. Push off and streamline: After touching the wall, push off with a strong and explosive motion. Extend your body into a streamlined position, with arms fully extended in front of you and legs tightly together.
  6. Underwater dolphin kick: Perform a few powerful dolphin kicks underwater to maintain momentum and speed. The dolphin kick helps you maintain your glide and minimize resistance.
  7. Transition to swimming: As you begin to slow down underwater, transition into your swimming technique and resume your regular stroke rhythm.

Tips for Achieving a Flawless Turn

To enhance your turn and achieve speed and efficiency, consider the following tips:

  1. Practice drills: Incorporate specific turn drills into your training routine. These drills focus on individual aspects of the turn, such as timing, body positioning, and push-off power.
  2. Video analysis: Record yourself performing the turn and analyze your technique. Look for areas where you can improve, such as body alignment, arm positioning, or leg kick.
  3. Increase flexibility: A flexible body allows for a more efficient and powerful turn. Incorporate stretching exercises into your warm-up and cool-down routines to improve flexibility in your shoulders, hips, and back.
  4. Build core strength: A strong core provides stability and power during the turn. Include core strengthening exercises, such as planks and Russian twists, in your training routine.
  5. Seek feedback: Have a coach or experienced swimmer observe your turn and provide feedback. They can identify areas for improvement and offer valuable tips to enhance your technique.
  6. Mental preparation: Visualize yourself performing a flawless turn before each practice or competition. This mental preparation can help improve your execution and overall performance.


A flawless turn is the key to achieving speed and efficiency in swimming. By focusing on the key techniques and incorporating the tips provided, you can enhance your turn and propel yourself to new levels of performance in the pool. Remember, practice, attention to detail, and continuous improvement are essential to achieving a flawless turn. Embrace the challenge, push your limits, and unleash your potential in the water.


Q1: How can I improve my turn speed?

A1: To improve your turn speed, focus on maintaining a strong and controlled approach, perfecting your timing, and developing explosive power for a powerful push-off.

Q2: What can I do to reduce drag during the turn?

A2: To reduce drag during the turn, focus on maintaining a streamlined position, keeping your body aligned, reducing resistance, and maximizing your glide distance.

Q3: How can I practice my turns without access to a pool?

A3: While it’s ideal to practice turns in a pool, you can still work on specific aspects of the turn outside of the water. Focus on dryland exercises that target core strength, flexibility, and explosiveness.

Q4: How important is mental preparation for a top-notch turn?

A4: Mental preparation is crucial for a top-notch turn. Visualize yourself performing a flawless turn, rehearse the steps in your mind, and build confidence in your ability to execute the turn effectively.

Q5: What are some common mistakes to avoid during a turn?

A5: Common mistakes to avoid during a turn include not maintaining a streamlined position, improper timing, lack of explosive power during the push-off, and poor body alignment.

Q6: How can I improve my turn if I am a beginner swimmer?

A6: As a beginner swimmer, focus on mastering the basic technique of the turn. Seek guidance from a coach or experienced swimmer, practice drills specifically targeting the turn, and gradually build your skills and confidence.

Q7: Are there any specific drills I can incorporate to improve my turns?

A7: Yes, there are several drills you can incorporate to improve your turns. Some examples include touch-and-go drills, one-arm touch drills, and underwater dolphin kick drills. These drills target specific aspects of the turn and help build technique and efficiency.


Mastering the art of the turn is essential for every swimmer looking to unleash their potential and take their performance to new heights. By incorporating the expert tips provided, focusing on technique, practicing specific drills, and seeking guidance, you can enhance your turns and gain a competitive edge in the pool. Remember, the turn is not just a technical skill; it’s a strategic advantage that can make a significant difference in your swimming performance. Embrace the challenge, strive for excellence, and unleash your potential in the water.