Butterflies are vital pollinators and indicators of global ecosystem health and climate change – but did you know that they are also inspirational in multiple sports?

From Muhammad Ali’s 1964 fighting strategy – “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see,” – to the recognition that ‘There is power in embracing the butterflies. Elite athletes report using anxiety to their advantage seeing it as facilitative during performance,’ (www.thesportdigest.com/2018/05/embracing-the-butterflies/ Sparks) butterflies are everywhere in sport and fitness.

Here are just a few examples:

Equestrian world: The Butterfly method was developed by Luciana Diniz to combine technical work on the fences, concentration and complicity with her horse. (www.blog.equisense.com/en/luciana-diniz-butterfly-method).

Figure Skating: The Butterfly Jump is a spin/jump performed where the skater does a flying spin that requires a two-foot takeoff. The skater’s body must be in a nearly horizontal position as the free leg makes a wide, powerful rotation swing upwards, in order to be higher than the upper part of the body. (www.sportslingo.com).

Yoga: The Butterfly Pose helps loosen up your low back, hips, and inner thighs, which may ease discomfort and help you feel better overall. It can also have a calming, relaxing effect, which may help you manage and let go of stress.

Swimming: Butterfly – your front should rise naturally with the undulation of your body. Keep your chin in front of your forehead and inhale quickly in through your mouth. After inhalation, quickly lower your head before exhaling quickly under the water through your mouth and nose. Your head should re-enter the water before your arms. (www.swimming.org/masters/advanced-butterfly-stroke-technique).

…And then, of course, there is the Butterfly range of Table Tennis equipment used at home, in schools, in leisure centres and for World, European and Commonwealth Championships. This social game demands intense concentration and reaction skills, with the fastest Table Tennis hit at 72.08 miles per hour, achieved by Łukasz Budner (Poland) (www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records) – perhaps inspired by the Skipper butterfly which can clock an impressive flight rate up to 37.2 mph (www.animalfunfacts.net/animal-records).

So, as Spring arrives and your garden blooms, keep an eye out for our winged butterfly friends and be inspired for your sporting ambitions, knowing that ‘There is no harm in a little pre-competition butterflies. This is a normal impatience to get at it, similar to the Thoroughbred at the start line of a race’ (www.dressagetoday.com) and if you have butterflies in your stomach, the goal is not necessarily to get rid of all of them, but to get them to fly together in formation (www.flogymnastics.com).