If you've been tuning in over the past couple of weeks, you'll know we've been discussing the major phases of vaulting, beginning with the approach, followed by the pre-flight, and this week, we'll finish up with the after-flight of the handspring.
The after-flight has to be the most fun part of the vault. If you've got lots of power and control, it'll be the closest you can get to flying!
This final phase begins as soon as your hands leave the vault, which should be as soon as possible. The judges can hack off a large chuck of your score if your hands stay on the vault too long, so as soon as your hands hit the horse, you should already be popping out of your shoulders.
As you can probably guess by now, the important thing to keep in mind is to stay tight throughout. When you "pop" off the horse, you do this by lifting your chest into a tight hollow position with your arms tight by your ears. Your head can be tucked slightly forward, but not too much otherwise you'll pike. As long as you're tight, this "lift" of your chest will give you the rotation you need to flip to your feet without arching.
High-scoring vaults are those that have both height and distance away from the horse. In order to achieve this, you need to have a fast run, a low hurdle, a tight pre-flight, immediate "pop" off the horse, and hollow-body position in the afterflight.
Remember to land with your knees bent. If you land lock-legged, you can throw out your back or your knees, both of which are very painful injuries you want to avoid.
Keeping all these things in mind, practice, practice, practice! Good luck!