Floor: Handspring Fronts

Has the time come for you to try putting the front handspring and the punch front together? It can be rather complicated to do so, but once you get it, you're sure to wow a few onlookers.

 First of all, you have to have solid front handsprings and front tucks. For the front handspring, that means being able rebound immediately after landing, and that you land with your body extended: feet together and in front of you, your hips and torso just barely arched yet tight, and your arms over your head. For the front tuck (or punch front, as I will call it now and then), that means being able to make it around with very little run. You should have a punch front that travels forward very little; it should mostly be vertical. And it should rotate easily.

 Once those are secure, you can start working towards putting them together. The first drill you want to do is a front handspring rebound. Now, I know I already said that you should have this down, but this time, there's a tiny twist to it. Instead of rebounding with a straight body, go into a hollow body position as you bounce up. This "snap" should be very precise, and when you do it correctly, you will actually feel like you will fly foward onto your face -- so be careful, and be ready to step out it.

 Notice that you do not want to tuck or bend your hips more than just a tiny bit when you land. If you do, you lose a lot of your power and anything you do after the handspring falls flat. Ideally, you don't want your body to "snap" more than about 30 degrees from the arch.

 This is the most important part of putting the two tricks together. If you can't do this correctly, I can almost guarantee that you won't make the punch front out of it. It's this transition that puts your body in the correct position, and that transfers the energy, to do the punch front.

 When you're comfortable with the "snapping" motion, you can try adding a dive roll out of it. It shouldn't be too hard if you've done the previous drill correctly. The most common error here, by far, is bending the knees too much as you try to go into the dive roll. You'll notice that the hips bend as well, you end up having to force your way into the roll. This happens because when you bend your knees and hips, you're absorbing all the energy you gained from the handspring instead of using it to "bounce" into the dive roll. Remember the arch-to-hollow motion you were doing in the previous drill -- this is the exact same movement you want going into the dive roll.

 Gradually work on the dive roll so that you get as much height out of it as you can, rather than making the dive roll long. It should be high, yet travel forwards little, just like the punch front. Once you think you're ready to go for the punch front, go for it! Or, if you're feeling a bit conservative, try doing the handspring in front of a crash mat, and the punch front on to the mat.

 I cannot stress enough that it's the arch-hollow snap that makes or breaks this trick. If you're having problems with the handspring front, go back to the first drill and make sure your body is in the right position. Keep trying, and good luck!