A front handspring vault:
|Kip||One of the most difficult basic skills (I should know!). (1) Be sure to glide as low to the ground as possible. (2) Extend the glide so that you are hollow, but out far. (3) Pike feet to bar, keeping your most of your weight still in front of the bar. (4) Don't try to kick your legs or arch to get up. (5) Keep the bar along your legs as you ride up to front support.|
|Cast squat-on||(1) Have your shoulders a little bit in front of the bar. (2) You don't need to cast very high, but be sure to get your bottom high enough so that your legs can get right on top of the bar.|
|Free-hip (or Clear-hip) Circle||Coming out of a cast as high as possible, whip your legs around the bar (but don't pike), and throw your shoulders down hard. Many gymnasts try to do a free-hip like a back-hip circle, but the circular motion won't help you go up to handstand. To go up, you must first go down. So you have to throw your energy down so you can go up to the handstand. Stay tight as you throw open your shoulders, and rotate your hands to the correct position a little earlier than you would think. (Remember, use up energy to go down, and down energy to go up.) Be careful: Don't pike into it or pull the bar too far down your thighs, otherwise you will fling off the bar (which I did twice).|
|Flyaway||(Because flyaways are hard to explain, I'm just going to include a couple tips.) (1) You need to have good tap swings to get a good flyaway. The tap is what is going to give you the upward momentum. (2) Spotting your feet at a certain point before releasing the bar is a good idea so you don't let go too early or too late (about 25-40 degrees above horizontal). (3) Keep your shoulders open. Don't try to pull in with your arms to help you rotate; otherwise, you will pull yourself back towards the bar and hit your feet.|
|Long-hang kip||Much different on the high bar than on the low bar, huh? The biggest mistake I've seen is letting the momentum go too high in the "glide". This causes the momentum to go straight back down, making it difficult to kip up. Keep your feet behind you as you swing to slow down the forward movement. As you work on this more, you will learn what kind of swing feels right.|
|In general, everything should be practiced on the floor and low beams before taking them up to the high beam for the first time.|
|Cartwheels||(1) Place your hands close together, but not too close. This should help you pirouette easier. (2) Make sure your feet go straight over the beam, and not around the side. As you land, lift your chest (thus reducing the time you have to fall).|
|Back Handspring (step-out)||(1) Don't sit your bottom too far down. Only bend your knees a little. It
makes it harder on your legs to bend all the way down, and then push them back
straight. (2) Push out your legs straight as you go into it. You should go as
high as possible. (3) I won't say what is the best hand position, but use one
that does not make your shoulders or hips turn. (4) You should try to split
on top. It makes balancing easier. (5) As you land, lift your chest.
It is important to keep your hips and shoulders square with the beam. If they're twisted at all, you will have a crooked flip-flop. Also, you should push as high off your feet as possible so you have time to get your hands securely on the beam.
|Back Walkover||(1) Basically, the main tip is to be square with the beam. Your hips and
shoulders should be square, and keep your arms and legs in a straight line with
the beam. (2)When landing, lift your arms and chest as soon as your first foot
is securely on the beam. If you are still bent forward when you try to land,
you will most likely lose your balance.
Also, don't try to rush it; you will have less control if it is too fast.
|Round-off||Practice these a lot on the low beam because it takes a bit of courage to land with both feet on the beam. As you land, your hips should be square with the beam. If you land incorrectly it will hurt your feet. So you want to land flat-footed, but bending your knees to absorb the shock. Be sure to lift your chest upon landing, with your arms above your head.|
|Pirouettes||There are different ways to do turns, but in general, there are a few rules that remain the same. As you pull into the turn, be sure to pull up as if there was a string going through your body from your head to your feet, and someone pulled straight up on the string. If you lean in any direction in the turn, you will lose your balance. Spotting isn't necessary for half-turns, but it is recommended for full turns, and necessary for any more rotations.|
|Balancing skills||This includes handstands and scales or other difficult poses to hold on the beam. Try keeping your focus on a spot on the beam. Stare at a chalk mark or speckle on the beam covering. With scales, you don't want to stare straight down at a spot near your foot. Instead, you should stare at a spot at least 2 feet in front of you.|
|Punch Front Salto||(1) Make your hurdle long and low to the ground. (2) Punch with your feet in front of you, and your chest up. (3) Don't lean forward into it. It should go up as high as possible. (4) To rotate, lift your hips over your head, and tuck tightly.|
|Front Handspring||(1) Hurdle low. (2) Don't place your hands too close to your feet. (3) Kick your feet and after popping, lift your chest, but don't hollow or pike.|
|Aerial Cartwheel||Whether you start this from a run and hurdle or from standing, the movement is the same. (1) If you are hurdling into an aerial, the hurdle should neither be too long nor too high. You need some forward momentum, but you don't want too much. (2) Be sure to push off of your take-off leg. This is where you get your height. (3) You need to kick your back leg as hard as you can to get around. This is where your rotation comes from. (4) Swinging your arms will help in both rotation and height. There are several ways to swing the arms, and I can't say which is better. Some people do aerials better swinging the arms down by your side, and others do an arm circle into it. (5) Don't try twisting your body into the aerial. This throws your alignment off and makes it harder to rotate. (6) As your land, you want to lift your chest up. Not only will this make it easier, it looks better than having your upper body flopping over when you land.|
|Back Handspring (aka Flip-Flop) - Stationary||(1) Start by standing with your feet together and your arms straight above
your head. (2) Swing your arms down and behind you as you bend your knees and
sit back. The position your knees should be in is similar to that as if you
were sitting in a chair. (3) Using the backward momentum, swing your arms up
and back above your head as you extend your legs and push off the ground. At
this point you should be arching your back as you are in mid-air, and diving
towards your hands. (4) Keep your arms straight as they come in contact with
the ground. Your shoulders should also be tight and squeezed towards your ears.
Your feet are still behind you, with your back still arched. (5) Once your hands
hit the ground, push through with your shoulders and snap your body into a hollow
body position. (6) Remaining in the hollow-body position, drive your feet to
the ground and lift your chest to maintain the hollow position.
Some bad habits to avoid and tips to make it easier:
As you sit back to go into the back handspring, your knees should not bend more than 90 degrees. Your chest may bend forward a little, but not too far.
A back handspring should go backwards as well as up. Be careful not to go straight up. Use the force from swinging your arms to go backwards.
In an ideal back handspring, your hands should be turned in towards one another.
Although you are arching in the pre-flight of the flip-flop, your body should still be tight, and not limp. Also be careful not to arch too much.
When you start working flip-flop series, there is the tendency to pike down before going into the next flip-flop, but that only slows down the series. Stay hollow.
|Backwards||Nearly all backward tumbling involves the basic roundoff flip-flop (back
handspring). The key to good back tumbling is a fast and solid roundoff flip-flop.
(1) First, you need a fast run. This is where most of your power comes
Be careful when trying these techniques for the first time. Have a spotter nearby in case you generate more power than you are ready to handle.
|Often, if you're having trouble with a trick, it's because you don't have
quite enough strength. I've noticed sometimes that if I let a particular muscle
lag in conditioning, certain tricks become harder to do, or I lose completely.
I find it more effective to do more repetitions of easier conditioning than doing conditioning that is hard to do. Often when you're doing difficult conditioning, you work the muscles incorrectly as you try to do it right. Therefore, it's better to do easier exercises that you can do correctly. However, this only really applies to individual muscle targets.
In gymnastics, almost all the muscles in the body are used, so it's important to try to work all your muscles evenly. But a few muscles are essential to keep in shape: triceps, upper and lower abdominals, calves, hamstrings, quadraceps, deltoids and the lower back muscles. And there are also some muscles that help prevent injury when they're properly worked out.
If you think you could benefit from doing conditioning in addition to your workout conditioning, the following exercises will help increase your strength. The number of repetitions depends on your strength ability. When you start out, you should do fewer repetitions in a set, but do more sets. As you get stronger, change only the number of repetitions in a set.
The tricep muslces are very important muscles in gymnastics are they are usually not developed in athletes in other sports. Several exercises are effective in strengthening your triceps (in order increasing difficulty):Support yourself as shown in picture #1. You can use a chair, a block, a stack of mats, or a low beam.