However the USAG compulsory beam has arabesque with a straight base leg as well. But I'm not sure this is a concern for the OP, don't know if she's in the US. I start with knee scale though (easy skill, make sure head is up, back knee straight and higher than horizontal). Then I just have them do arabesque holds. I rarely have significant problems though. I have them do it on top of a mushroom with something to look forward and aim their chest at as part of a circuit then I add stuff (like leg kick forward and hold, rise up on toe as leg swings back to arabesque hold).It is okay to teach this with the base knee being bent since they have to land their leaps with a bent knee per the compulsory routines.
That is exactly the picture i have in my head when i want them to do it lol but none of them are strong enough i was wondering if there were any specific sort of back exercise that might help or whether it was all jst repition.I disagree that an arabesque is soley a flexibility skill, it requires tremendous strength in the lower back and butt too!
Its all about the ballet bar work, An exercise I like is to have the kids stand in first position facing the ballet bar with their chest against it, point their foot behind them and keeping their hips down and square slowly lift the leg up the back untill they feel a 'pinch' in their butt. You can also do this exercise lying down
My top gymnast has one of the best arabesques I have ever seen, Here's a picture!
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You see how the chest is up and the back is arched? This is correct, a lot of kids dip their chests to lift their leg higher, try to prevent them from doing so, as it does not strengthen the muscle