beginners and back rolls

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moimoi16

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Sep 21, 2008
15
Canada
I teach a beginner competitive class, and in their routine they need to be able to do the connection back pike to tuck- tuck to straddle roll (i really hope that makes sense). Its basically two rolls connected, but I'm having a huge problem with a few of my gymnastics going over thier shoulders or necks instead of their heads in the rolls. Some even try and go over with no hands at all!

I've tried using a cheese mat so that they are on an incline, and that sort of helps some of them, but as soon as we get back to the floor, its becomes a mess again. Ive demonstrated it, and explained that their hands need to push hard into the ground so that they can go over their heads, but that doesn't seem to help. Does anyone have any pointers, or drills i can use to fix this problem? Any input would be much appretiated! Thanks!
 
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Aussie_coach

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Backward rolls are a really challenging skill for young and inexperienced gymnasts. An incline is a great way of training it. Do you have a variety of different sizes. Start with a large incline and work down to smaller inclines. If you dont have the right equipment be creative. A springboard with a mat over it makes an incline.

Spot them as well, have them roll backwards and lift their hips up over their heads so they get the feel of going straight backwards.

How do you have their hands? Some kids find putting their hands on the ground and pushing with their hands very complicated, and it is not a good way to train backward rolls any way as they must eventually learn to do backward rolls withy straight arms. It is easier to learn to do this the proper way from the start. Have them do their rolls with their hands over their heads and fingers facing inwards. They can even train it with their fingers joined. Have them roll over their hands rather than push with their hands.
 

ryantroop

Member
Sep 21, 2008
423
Illinois
When I teach back rolls I also teach it with a funny name like "moose ears" or "mickey mouse ears" so they automatically think putting their hands up with the skill...


I know it's frustrating, but Im beginning to learn that with little kids it's all about repetition and how much fun you can make it without over-doing the same thing.


Good luck!

Ryan
 

moimoi16

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Former Gymnast
Sep 21, 2008
15
Canada
As for the incline mat, we only have one. We are a really small club that runs out of a school gymnasium, so we are limited to how much equiptment we can own because we set up, and take it down every class, and store it in a small storage room. I will have to get creative with that one. The spring board idea is a really good one though.

Aussie_Coach , I dont really understand what you ment when you said that you are supposed to do backwards rolls with straight arms, and roll over your hands? is that even possible? I cant seem to picture it...

When I was learning backwards rolls many years ago, I remember my instructor saying that I should pretend that I have a pie in each hand and that when I roll backwards, I want to squish the pies as hard as I can into the ground to help me get over my head... thats the same concept I tried with my girls, and it mainly worked but there are a few that just cant catch on...
 

ACoach78

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Feb 22, 2007
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USA
Here's what I do for kids that don't quite understand how to keep off of their head.

I take two panel mats and put them at the top of the incline in sort of the position of two sides of an equilateral triangle. Obviously, there's not a 3rd panel mat...so, it's not a true triangle.

It looks something like this: / \ (Each slash represents a panel mat)

Have the two mats touching at one corner or nearly touching at the top. Have the kid sit down at the top where the mats touch and roll backwards. The hands should be placed on the panel mats (one hand on each) while the extra height and the area between the panels gives clearance for the head. Eventually, when they get really good at that, you can progress them to backward rolls down the incline and gradually move them to the floor.

Another common problem is that kids will lay their upper body back and essentially segment as opposed to learning to roll over as a single "unit." It's important that they understand that everything has to roll over together - primarily via pulling the hips over.

A couple of other tidbits that seem to help...start with their hands by their ears...a lot of kids start with their arms up and their hands are too late getting back by the ears. Just have them put their hands there to begin with.

Secondly, have them look at their tummy to start and even through the middle of the skill to help keep the head tucked.

Thirdly, have them try to keep the elbows in close to the body. If the elbows flare out it's much harder to stay off of the head because you've basically cut your range-of-motion because the upper arm is now parallel to the ground and out to the side of the body as opposed to raising up overhead.

Work through the progressions and be patient.
 

kiwiflyer

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Jul 21, 2008
66
New Zealand
I agree with getting them to look at their belly button. Alot of times when they role over their shoulder it's because they are looking away. Rolling crookedly also happens when they don't push equally with both hands. One of the other coaches at my gym found that by getting her kids to do bridges, they got the idea of pushing with both hands.

With the straight arms, it takes alot of practice and eventually leads to handstand. The gymnasts need to have their hands so that their fingers are pointing towards each. Then they pretty much roll up straight arms and over their hands. But like I said it takes a whole heap of practice because the kids don't often keep their arms straight when they start. Hope that makes sense.
 
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BlairBob

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I've heard instead of bending the arms and having their hands around their ears, it's better to have them above their head. Elbow is about as high as forehead, hands above the skull.

They need to reach for the ground while not arching their upper back. Their hands have to have contact with the floor before their feet start coming over.

Ever do candlesticks with the arms prepared to do a backward roll. Sit in L, roll back to candle and get those hands situated.

They still need to master a bent arm roll before working on a straight arm tuck or pike back extension. They probably will not have the strength in their shoulder to maintain support, in fact many L4's do not!

When I don't have a cheese, I use a panel mat. They lay down on the mat and top of their head should be at the end of the panel mat. I hand spot this until they're competent in it because of the distance from top of panel mat to floor. They sit in an L with arms ready and roll back, getting their hands placed ASAP with a rounded back and I pull their legs over.

Eventually you can take layers of mats till they can do it on the floor or go from a stand to sit backward roll. This is a really awesome way to teach straight arm back ext rolls and easily spot to HS whereas a wedge tends to complicate angles because of it's downward angle.
 

Kendahl08

Member
Oct 1, 2008
99
Brooklyn, NY
At my Gym we do them on wedge mats with straight arms ending in a pike. Lately mt coach has taken me aside to do it on floor. To take it to a handstand I roll back very fast keeping my arms straight and strong as I approach the handstand she grabs my ankles and stands me up as I balance my handstand she lets me go and I end in a lunge. We keep our hands facing to eachother, and roll our wrist facing our pinky fingers to our heads.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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When I don't have a cheese, I use a panel mat. They lay down on the mat and top of their head should be at the end of the panel mat. I hand spot this until they're competent in it because of the distance from top of panel mat to floor. They sit in an L with arms ready and roll back, getting their hands placed ASAP with a rounded back and I pull their legs over.
Another bonus to this is most gyms have enough panel mats that your average class size can easily take 4, put two kids on each panel mat (horizontal) and there's all sorts of stuff you can do with minimal lines but keeping them in a relatively confined space, whereas we don't really have enough wedge mats to do this. It's good for beginning 6-10 years classes.

I do it basically the same but start with straddle, I don't really know why, guess I just find it easier to spot really from starting laying down with their upper body on the mat (hands on the ground, make sure they're facing the shoulders), then have them initiate the roll standing in front of them and pull their hips over to stand. When they can do it on their own, lower the panels. Then start from sitting on a wedge, then from stand to squat. I've found that step is important, some kids will do weird things there, like try to go directly to their back and flop over all weird. If you teaching it from a squat, tell them they need to put their bottom down first and then curve like C or some other way to explain it. Obviously with kids who are really good at it all these steps can be pretty streamlined...but yeah...usually with classes the average progression on this is not that fast for me.
 
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BlairBob

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I start from sitting on a wedge first and then allow them to stand and squat into after they can do it from a sit. They also have to know how to rock back towards candlestick and stand up before I allow the sit into backward roll.

First straddle, then tuck, then pike, then straight arms with those positions. Sometimes straddle to handstand, tuck to HS, then typically candle to HS ( hollow ). Either straight arm or bent arm.

With the panel mats, eventually we take off layers till ground level and then put back the stand to squat into it.
 

gymdog

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With the panel mats, eventually we take off layers till ground level and then put back the stand to squat into it.
I've never tried it from the stand there but I'll have to try that. I think the height of the panel mat (obviously care needs to taken there as your first post suggests with spotting) helps them place their hands correctly facing in towards the shoulders with the elbows up. The wedge is good with transitioning to the floor but I think it's a little more difficult for some the naturally inflexible ones there to pick up the correct hand placements without stopping them each time and positioning their hands only to have it fall apart. With the panel mat variation, I can usually spot it more easily and help them keep the hands and arms positioned correctly.
 
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CoachRazz99

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I find that a simple drill on the floor helps younger children learn where to place their hands. Start sitting in a tuck position with the hands up by the ears (holding the "pies"). Roll back and touch the floor with the hands and roll back up to the tuck sit. Don't do the full roll. Do this a few times and then add in a small push on the hands before they sit back up. Do this a few times and then add a little speed and spot them to roll over. Then have them try by themselves. I've found that this works with most children- but there's always those few. :)
 
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BlairBob

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Gymdog, I prefer to spot the back roll or back ext to HS on the panel mats versus wedge. I have more leverage, even for taller or bigger gymnasts than I would have on the wedge which means I'm in an awkward spotting position with leg higher than the other, squatting. It's just way more wear and tear on me to spot anything in that position on my hips, back and elbow.

The angle of the wedge makes it unique to not go out when doing the back roll to whatever instead of going up. I don't have the problem with the panel mat method. Especially when you transition it to floor. Panel mats and the floor are more firm and some wedge mats get too soft.

Razz, yeah the candle rocks with hand placement work though sometimes I prefer them not to do this as they'll go over when they don't have enough control of their bodies rocking to candlestick. Of course I then have to teach them the difference between a backwards break fall to candle or rock back to candle stand up or rocking back to candle with bent arms for backward rolls. They all work, it's just a matter of when to use them.
 

moimoi16

New Member
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Former Gymnast
Sep 21, 2008
15
Canada
Thanks for the help everyone. I tried some of the drills you suggested, and the problems are slowly being resolved. Only 4 more practices before their first competition... Wish us luck!
 
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bendygirl

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you could also try letting them put chalk on their hands and tell them to give the cheese mat a high five when they roll back. or put a sticker on their belly so they have their head in when rolling back. It will be fun for them and will work!
 
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KBT

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Aussie_Coach , I dont really understand what you ment when you said that you are supposed to do backwards rolls with straight arms, and roll over your hands? is that even possible? I cant seem to picture it...
I think Aussie_Coach means that eventually a backwards roll will lead to a back extension roll with straight arms so you could teach a backwards roll with the hand placement of a back extension roll.
 
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