Transforming Cheer Backhandsprings- Yikes!

Discussion in 'Coach Forum' started by coachmolly, Jan 31, 2013.

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  1. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    I've mentioned before that another coach and I took over a HS gym team last season, one with very limited gym experience. The ones who have had some training either received it in the cheer world or at local rec centers with inadequate progressions. We've still managed to make quite a few changes with these girls, but bhs are a constant struggle. We were hoping that with increased training, verbal corrections, better ROs, improved strength, etc. But we have seen very limited success with bhs, I think a lot of that is because the habits have been so deeply ingrained and are just incredibly hard to unlearn. Compounding the problem is the fact that these are high schoolers making it very difficult to hand spot them through the skill slowly, highlighting each position.
    The big problems- very slow, heavy bhs, feet a mile apart through the whole skill (from prep through to ending), cheer "hops" forward before the skill, the list just goes on. It's almost like a herd of elephants doing bhs- and these are not large girls! We do not have a pit, tramp, spring floor, port-a-pit/resi (we do have a resi type mat, but it's only about 8" (can be folded to about 16"). Any creative drills, conditioning, ideas, etc. with limited resources and that wouldn't injure the HC and myself would be greatly appreciated!
    I've searched the forum, but most of the tips were more for little ones where hand spotting and stopping the skill is more practical. Or corrections for just learned bhs, rather than ones that have been done incorrectly for years.
    Thanks!
     

  2. JBS

    JBS Administrator Staff Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    I would try and fix the "cheer hop" everyday first. I really focus on slow on the way down and fast on the way up. Jumping backwards over something as simple as a line works good. Make sure they are slanted back slightly...jump and walk backwards out of it...not stick.

    Besides that...lots of snap downs...handstand strength...and double spotting.

    EDIT: If you have a weight room at the HS...I would get them in the weight room a couple times per week with the weight training coach.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
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  3. dmytv

    dmytv New Member

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    A lot of handstand snapdowns. Also, to fix legs apart give them a foam block, nerf ball, etc and have them pinch it between their knees/calves while they snap down. Also straight jumps working on that hollow position. We have cheer program here and it seems they all come to me right before competition to "fix their BHS" biggest problems I see is they throw their head back to get the skill. Teaching them to "sit" into the bhs and keep legs together as well as keeping tight is alot of work. Honestly though cheer is just a totally different sport they are not judged on form like gymnastics is.
     
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  4. dunno

    dunno New Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Former Gymnast Club Owner

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    old school term, we call it "crow hopping". and JBS, i could not have said it better than you did.:)
     
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  5. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    Thanks for the tips, I'll see what I can do. The unfortunate part is they go right back to cheer at the end of the gymnastics season and I'm sure those coaches won't keep on them about the corrections.
    As far as a weight room, I know there is one, but I don't think there is a weight training coach on staff, at least not one available to non-football players. I'm not sure they would even let us in there since we're not a ball sport :rolleyes:. But it could be something to look into.
     
  6. JBS

    JBS Administrator Staff Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    Most of the schools by us have the weight room open to all athletes. For high school gymnasts that are just generally...too weak...weights can do wonders.


    Sent from my iPod touch using ChalkBucket mobile app
     
  7. Liv...

    Liv... Coach Coach Former Gymnast

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    BH-spring Blocking Drill.wmv - YouTube
    I found the drill against the wall really helpful with the gymnasts becoming aware of their shapes.
    Also the drill with the wedge and tumble tramp I moved on to a standard crashmat to the floor because we don't have that equipment but I've found it really helpful. Especially with the girls realising just how closed their shoulders are! Hope this helps :)
     
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  8. tweez94

    tweez94 Coach Coach

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    A really strange drill that helped me a lot coaching tumbling to cheerleaders was making them do a back handspring from the deepest squat they could do (butt almost touching floor). I was hesitant to try it at first but it really forces them to open up the hips and shoulders rather than folding in half and usually helps them figure out the sensation of reaching back for the first phase. Obviously you just need to tell them it is only a drill and squatting deeply will greatly slow down the skill any other time. It was a drill I got from a clinic a while back. Good luck! Cheer girls are tough to work with!
     
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  9. CoachTodd

    CoachTodd Coach Coach Proud Parent

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    First of all, Welcome to my world coachmolly :).
    I have worked with the 5'11" 195lb 14 year old girl that was taught to jump straight up, arch her back, basically catch her body while putting 6x her weight in force on her wrists then tuck down with her legs apart. I had to take her back to the basics. I still stop them in mid handspring but I have the advantage of being strong enough (and dumb enough) to do this. I would go with double spots.
    What I have learned coaching the larger girls and watching cheer and even gymnastics tumbling is that most of these kids get all of the speed in the first part of the skill. I.e. they fling themselves backward as quickly as possible onto their hands then take a day to get off of their hands. This may work out ok for a 32lb kid but after that, it seems to make wrists angry.
    I've begun teaching the kids to do the snap earlier. I basically try to get them to get the snap to lift them off their hands. If they time it correctly, they barely put any force on their hands. Too many cheerleaders were taught by someone holding their shirt then throwing their feet over their heads (thus the pike). It's really hard to get them to snap from the core after years of doing it wrong. Snapdown drills seem to help.
    The cheerleader hop may or may not be a battle worth fighting. I still try to get my girls that do it to stop but it seems to be embedded into their brains that it somehow helps. I'm pretty sure this comes from the previously stated fact that they think all of the speed and power comes from the first part of the skill. I've even had high level gymnasts leave and go to cheer develop the hop or step backwards before doing a standing handspring. I wish I had videoed the guy I new that would do a bridge to a handstand then snap down into a handspring layout like it was nothing.
    I could go on for days about the strange things they do. I think a lot of core work, handstand snap downs, and a lot of spotting the shapes (with help) would be the route you need to go. I try to educate my kids on why the changes will help as well. This seems to sink into some of them.
    Good Luck :)
     
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  10. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    Great info, CoachTodd! One of the girls had MCL surgery last year and lands her bhs so heavily I can't help but cringe, she's sprained her knee twice as a result. There are also constant complaints of ankle and wrist pain because the force thrust onto them. I just can't seem to explain, at least not verbally, that bhs should be light and fast rather than slow and sluggish. Because, heck, they're getting over and can even do 2 in a row- they must be good! And the shirt spotting is how most, if not all, of these girls were introduced to bhs, by the old gymnastics coach no less. We've done more handstand and core work this season than most of these girls ever have, but I think this week we might set up some snap down stations too.
    Thanks again to everyone for all the info. Previously I was on the end of teaching little ones to bhs rather than transforming already learned ones, so while some of the same tricks work, there has also been a bit of a learning curve.
     
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