How to Butterfly Twist: A Written and Video Tutorial

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: here

Recommended prerequisites: butterfly kick

Description: The butterfly twist is considered to be a butterfly kick with a 360 spin. For my money, it's only 1/4 of the butterfly kick and it feels like a completely different trick, which is why you don't even need to know how to butterfly kick clean in order to have a nice and fancy butterfly twist.

Slide by slide breakdown

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

The takeoff is butterfly kick magic. Revisit that tutorial here if you need a full refresher. Weight is all on my right leg and arms are back, too. Everything is back right now.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

I get momentum from a little spin, as do most people. My spin is pretty mild though. See how I'm pretty much straight up and down? That means I'm coasting into the trick. I'm letting this takeoff give me momentum, but I'm controlling things. When I was first learning this trick, one of the mistakes I kept making was going hyper speed into the takeoff. Keep your head calm, keep your body relaxed.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

After the turn, everything is back as the lead leg swings out. Pace is starting to heighten here to prepare for the violence. If you're comparing your video against mine, be sure to examine what your shoulders are doing in relation to the swinging leg. Although everyone is different, I like to keep my shoulders back a bit when I throw the swing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Ah, just like in the butterfly kick, that lead swing leg opens before it plants into the ground. Everything is still back, but I'm getting ready to dip into the U and play that funky music.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Dip into the U. Not only does this get you height it also gets you rotation provided you dip across your body. I harp on that in the butterfly kick tutorial, so recheck that if you have to. My body starts in front of my legs (my torso is closest to the camera right now). It's going to dip across my front leg and my torso will end up closer to the house.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Just as planned. With the U dip not only down and up, but also across my front leg, my torso is now on it's way to be closer to the house than my lower body. (Wasn't the case last slide.)

This is the butterfly kick's last moment of similarity. The goal here is to lift the back leg as high as possible. Doing so not only gets you height, but it also keeps your body horizontal to the ground. I know it doesn't look like I'm lifting it high, but I'm trying to. Compared to not  lifting it at all, it's a big difference.

Also: arms. For any twisting trick, one of the keys is to keep the arms wide at first. This gives you more power for the spin itself because you can coil them inwards to your body. Tricking is all about transition of momentum. Wide arms at the moment of takeoff is a good thing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

The only thing that happened since the last slide: me jumping and then coiling my arms to my body tighter. One thing to consider is stalling the twist, which is something you might hear others tell you to do. Stalling the twist basically means getting as much height as you can before initiating the twist. Once you start twisting, your height gaining is all but over.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

And to show the stall, here's another video. The first part of getting more height and stalling is actually coming to full extension. See my jumping leg? It actually…uhh…jumped? This is tricky to do for starters. If you're having trouble with height or with getting horizontal, check your jumping leg out.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

In this slide, you can see my torso is still facing the ground and yet my entire body is off the ground. If you hit a position like this, all that's left is coiling your arms to your body and turning your head. Seriously. As for how to coil? I usually think about bringing my right arm to my heart and striking over top my body with my left elbow.

Now, this stalling business isn't exactly easy and I have two classifications of stalling. One is to truly do a butterfly kick and then twist over. That's a mega stall. For most of us, when we need to stall, that's a little bit beyond what we're looking for.

My friends and I discovered, one day, that stalling for us was all about taking a glimpse at the grass right after takeoff and right before spinning. Just a fraction of a second hello! to the grass, not a memorizing stare down.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Your legs will do funky things in the air. I'm not consciously thinking about them, nor do I ever unless I'm trying to do a specific trick. Your body will settle into something comfortable over time. You have enough to think about already, so for the legs it's all about throwing the back leg up high and jumping with intensity. That's your job.

Slide above? Check my head. Your head leads all rotations. Where the head goes, the body follows. I'm tight and my head is searching for the ground right now so I can spot my landing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Landing spotted and I eject the landing gear. I've been doing this trick long enough to have most of it unconsciously programmed, so don't take too many notes from these final slides. I unravel almost to stand upright at the end, which likely won't happen. Key point is to look for your landing. Spot your landing, and then reach for your landing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Once you spot your landing, you can unravel from the coiled position.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Recap cues:

  • Swing, dip, jump.
  • Dip in two axes. First, down and up. Second, across your lead leg.
  • Lift the lead leg high and fully extend and use that jumping leg for all it's worth.
  • Once you got your height, coil your arms and look over your shoulder.
  • Spot your landing.


No height? 

  • Try to slow down your takeoff. Sometimes a quick takeoff can lead us more horizontal than vertical.
  • Lift that first leg high.
  • Come to full extension on the jumping leg.
  • Say hello to the ground for a fraction of a second before twisting.

Body not horizontal?  Look first at the back leg and how high you're lifting it. After that, make sure you aren't bringing your torso up out of fear. Saying hello to the ground helps this, too.

Landing on your knees? You probably have the motions down, but the comfort isn't there. You need practice and confidence so that you can make use of your body 100%.

Landing on your back? Commit to the spin. Coil. 

Your next conquest:

  • Hypertwist

See the rest of the tutorials:

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