For Coaches How to help with fixing giants/improve tap

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gymnastmom

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My daughter is having a bit of a challenge with her giants, specifically her tap on the giants. She is very strong and can do a giant but her tap is off and it affects the form etc. She is working really hard to fix it and listens to her coach intently however this one area of bars is frustrating her as the rest of her bars skills are beautiful. I know it soulds odd that giants are a challenge considering she does much more difficult skills on the bars with no problem. And like somethings, sometimes someone giving her the same information to help but in a "different way" can make all the differences. Is there any advice I can give her other than what I am doing to keep her encouraged? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.:D
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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I'd have to see it to be sure, but the most common problem in a giant is arching on the way up. There's only one tap in a giant, and it's in the bottom; the rest of the giant should remain hollow.
 
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hammy

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Try having her think of it as a tap swing that comes from a handstand. Also, have her look at the low bar as she swings past it, keep her shoulders open on the way up and toes over the bar first. Giants really are a simple skill, but sometimes they can throw you for a loop. I had my giants for about a year then all of the sudden (for about a week) I couldn't figure out how to do them.
 

Mac

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Mar 7, 2007
65
I've found this link useful in the past: http://www.gymnasticsrevolution.com/Parents 21.html

In what way is her tap off? That affects the fix.

Sometimes it's useful to return to fundamentals--for example, tap swings--and review them for a day or two, and then reintroduce the higher-level skill as though from scratch. If one component is off, it's a way to relearn it. Sometimes that's easier than adjusting within the higher-level skill, be/c there can be too much going on at once for her to compartmentalize the problem area. Hope that makes sense.
 
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gymnastmom

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WOW! thank you for all the advice, as most of the technical information went over my head I have shown it to my daughter so that she would understand it. She liked all the information and had this to say in response to the question as to what exactly her difficulty is:

"One of the problems is I don't fall, I hollow from the top instead of falling and then going hollow and the other is opening too early but still making it over"

Again, thank you for all the advice and information, the link was especially useful.
 

Mac

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Mar 7, 2007
65
I think the focus at the top should be on stretching out as far from the bar as possible. Good luck.
 
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hammy

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Mac's advice sounds good to me. Stretch tall and try to kick the low bar. Good luck!
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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"...opening too early but still making it over"
Sounds like she's arching on the way up. A lot of kids do a giant as if it has two taps, one under the bottom and one over the top. A giant only has one tap, and it's at the bottom; tap at the bottom, remain hallow all the way up until you hit a handstand.

When I'm teaching giants, I don't mention the handstand at all; I just tell them to hollow all the way over the top and down the other side. Almost always when kids actually try to hit a handstand on the way up, they do it early. I teach them to hollow all the way over first, then have them gradually straighten out from there.

Admittedly, though, I very seldom work with the girls who are learning giants, and most of my experience teaching giants is with boys; I'm sure there are additional things to keep in mind when there's another bar added to the equation.
 
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hammy

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Arching on the way up or not getting your toes over first is a very common mistake. Also, make sure you're shifting at the correct time--shifting too early puts the brakes on and stops the giant.

As far as adding the low bar---it technically should not make a difference unless you're over 5'5'' tall, that's when girls start to have to round a little more or put the bars even farther apart. A lot of girls get into the habit of piking down because they're afraid to kick the low bar, when really they're a couple feet away from the bar when they swing down. I encourage my girls to try to kick the low bar (if i know they're short enough to not kick it), because that helps them think about keeping stretched/open.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Arching on the way up or not getting your toes over first is a very common mistake. Also, make sure you're shifting at the correct time--shifting too early puts the brakes on and stops the giant.

As far as adding the low bar---it technically should not make a difference unless you're over 5'5'' tall, that's when girls start to have to round a little more or put the bars even farther apart. A lot of girls get into the habit of piking down because they're afraid to kick the low bar, when really they're a couple feet away from the bar when they swing down. I encourage my girls to try to kick the low bar (if i know they're short enough to not kick it), because that helps them think about keeping stretched/open.
Are they 5'5" away from each other for FIG or JO or College? I know you can set them farther for JO and College than for FIG, but I don't know the specifics of any of them.
 
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hammy

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I meant if the gymnast was 5'5'' or taller. I've noticed that if they're taller that's when they tend to get into the habit of piking down past the low bar or being afraid of hitting it.
 

ACoach78

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Feb 22, 2007
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WOW! thank you for all the advice, as most of the technical information went over my head I have shown it to my daughter so that she would understand it. She liked all the information and had this to say in response to the question as to what exactly her difficulty is:

"One of the problems is I don't fall, I hollow from the top instead of falling and then going hollow and the other is opening too early but still making it over"

Again, thank you for all the advice and information, the link was especially useful.

Once again, I'll reiterate that there is NO magical, one-word, instant fix. It is truly a process.

Without seeing the giant, I'm not going to speculate. However, I will say that if you want a good giant, more time needs to be spent developing the cast into a swing-over (cast to swing pullover - Level 6) and then working that up to a giant. {I call it a swing over because I don't want for the gymnast to perform a pullover; I want them to swing up over the bar.}

Also, more time needs to be spent developing a really powerful giant on the single rail prior to taking it to the unevens. Or, that's my philosophy, at least. I think that many coaches rush kids to the unevens a little quickly. Develop the proper mechanics of the swing without the low bar and then the transition is relatively simple.

Here is a link to a clip of a bars clinic that David Kenwright, Canadian Olympic Coach (2000 & 2004), gave a few months back. David is a phenomenal coach and has some very nice bar workers. At the end of the clip, you'll see an example of the cast to swing-over being performed by some gymnast with the assistance of a coach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnJdnmGDtok
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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From what I've seen, there are three main routes to learning giants. The baby giant method, the tucked-giant method, and the "just chuck it" method.

The baby giant method is where you have them work a cast away to baby giant, and then have them gradually push away from the bar more and more until it becomes a true giant.

The tucked giant method is the one I was tought with. When I first learned my giants, I was told to tuck going over the top, and then I gradually straightened them out as I got better at the skill.

The third is the just chuck it method. Put them on a strap and throw them around the bar until they're comfortable with it, then have them work on it on their own (or with a spot) over a pit until they can do it.

All three have major advantages and disadvantages. I tend to lean more towards the baby giant method, since that seems to be the most effective at getting them to tap over the bar rather than arching on the way up (which is probably the single most common problem kids have when learning the skill).
 

Gymtastic

New Member
Jun 12, 2008
22
Maybe try putting kneepads on her heels and then encouraging her to really stretch out the giant on the way down. This might help her to not be afraid of hitting her feet on the low bar.

When I started learning giants, we used to keep the bars a lot closer than they tend to now (not too close, but not so wide that we could just do a full giant without a slight pike), so it was actually easier to learn the tap because I was told that once my feet got past the low bar, I had to "tap" backwards to extend them beyond the low bar once I had cleared it.

Also, I don't know if her club teaches straddle giants first, but that also helped me to understand the tap better, because once I cleared the low bar, I could snap my heels back and together at the same time, giving me a better feeling of what a tap does. Once I learned those, translating that into a piked giant with a tap was quite simple. At first, I always sort of thought of it as a "tap and snap", tapping back and then snapping forward to allow me to come to the top of the bar in a good handstand position with no arch.

Explaining that "every action has an equal and opposite reaction" may help too. She needs to understand the reason behind the tap, the fact that by driving the heels backward, they are enabling the gymnast to snap them forward and "step on the gas" so to speak, allowing the toes to come over the top of the bar first.

I hope this makes sense and good luck!
 
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