Jumping "into" front handspring on floor!?

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MyrtleWarbler

Coach
Coach
Proud Parent
Jul 5, 2008
15
I'm coaching a small team at a new gym, just Levels 4-5 this year. I inherited a couple girls from a different gym, and they both have a weird bad habit that I'm having trouble breaking...

Both have pretty good technique overall on many things. But for some reason, they are both doing a little dive INTO their front handsprings on floor... Rather than a nice lunge before the hand placement, they lunge and then do just a little "pop" onto their hands. Obviously this kills their block back off their hands, and the handspring ends too much like a limber. Both girls have such potential and this is driving me nuts. They don't do this with their round-offs, although their RO approaches need a little improvement as well.

I've tried a few drills to improve their lunge/approach. Have other coaches seen this, and do you have any suggestions I might not have thought of?? TIA!
 
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gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
I have had problems with this with beginning tumblers on running CWs and ROs as well...haven't dealt with it as much on FHS, but maybe some of this will help anyway. For that I usually unfold a panel mat or whatever you have as a visual cue to put the hands and feet in the right place. Sometimes just that works because they aren't stepping their front foot out far enough and then stretching through their body to put their hands far from their foot. For FHS I would probably leave a panel folded have them stand back from it (the shorter way) do a hurdle with the front foot in front of the panel mat, reaching over it to put the hands on the floor. Something making them stretch out might eliminate that awkward hop/dive down.

If that doesn't work I would take away the second part of the skill and have them do small hurdle, kick handstand (then just fall to their back on a mat). Taking away the block might help the approach...when they consistently put their hands down and kick correctly, then they could move to feet. Also using a wedge mat, with 8 inchers stacked behind (I do this for RO and FHS) they do their run, hurdle up the wedge, hands on the end of the wedge, and then the skill lands on the mat. The incline helps with the approach. I do that more for kids learning the skill who need a little "extra" but maybe it will help with this as well.
 
Jul 12, 2008
90
Charleston, WV
Something that I have noticed about some gymnastics driving into their tumble is that they have tight Achilles which won't let them put their hands down properly. If this is the case, there isn't much you can do to fix it other than lots of repetition.
 
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Jojogymgirl

Guest
Start off with the basics. Work on lunge handstands (come down after handstands). Then do front limbers and then frontwalkovers. If they are ready start to do a front handspring step out (like a front walkover). If they still have the problem, try a different route. Set up a panel mat and tell them where to start the run. The mat should be close enough for them to reach down and not reach out (they may feel they need more power and do the dive thing). When they do this drill, make sure you also take time to spot them and do the correct positions. Talk to them about how to do it right. Try front flysprings on a tumble track or trampoline because they have to get their hands on the "x" on the tramp and they may not do the dive thing and this may then transfer to the fronthandspring. GOOD LUCK and sorry i couldn't give better advice!
 
K

KBT

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I'm not sure I get what the problem is, but are they putting their hands way to close to their feet? Maybe putting a panel mat down so they hurdle on one side and place their hands on the other side would help them stretch out.
 

ACoach78

Coach
Coach
Feb 22, 2007
112
USA
Do me a favor...ask them where they think that their feet come together

My guess is that they're trying to get their legs to come together in the middle - which is 100% wrong because the front leg simply will not catch up with the back leg through the middle of the skill. It could just be a conceptual thing in that respect. They were completely taught the wrong way to do the skill and they're trying to so hard to pass through a true handstand in the middle of the skill that they have no choice but to dive onto their hands.

By the way, the legs should finish relatively together, but very very late - they should not come together in the air.

My second approach before going into total re-training of the skill and the motor coordination is to simply tell them to make sure that their hands are on the floor before their lunge leg comes off the floor. Often this helps as well.

If these two things fail, then you have to go back and start corrective drills. I'd recommend starting in a standing lunge or at least stepping to a lunge and basically take away their running tumbling until this is corrected.

Are you seeing the same diving onto the hands in their RO? Typically, you'll see the same in the RO. I can always judge an athlete's RO based on how good their FHS is.
 

SharpGymn

New Member
Aug 25, 2007
6
I was told that it was an acceptable technique to "dive" onto hands for both RO and fhs. Actually my tumbling improves when I do this technique, not to say if I totally overhauled it it wouldn't be even better. But others from my club do this as well and I've seen some elites "dive" onto the hands.

When gymnasts do a flyspring, isn't that what is done? Why wouldn't it work for RO and FHS? Genuinely curious about this. I'm a level 8.
 

ACoach78

Coach
Coach
Feb 22, 2007
112
USA
A flyspring is the equivalent of a back handspring in the opposite direction in theory. Therefore, the two-footed take-off (jump) allows you to generate a greater ground reaction force and as a result, you can generate a lot more angular momentum (rotation).

By diving onto the hands in a FHS or RO, what you're losing is the "Lever" effect of the skill. Because of the weight of the upper extremity (head, arms, & trunk), one can create quite a bit of rotation as the body pivots over the leg because of the position of the center of gravity ahead of that leg. The leg essentially serves as your fulcrum or pivot point. In addition, if you "jump onto" or "dive onto" your hands, you've lost not only this aspect, but also the fact that the lunge leg does push against the ground and contributes to the total rotation via the ground reaction force that is produced.

I have seen this in elite gymnasts as well. That doesn't mean that it's correct. In many instances, talent overrides optimal technique. I tend to see it a little more often in a front handspring when watching it in slow motion. I don't think that the kids are necessarily taught this, however. In fact, I'm almost sure that none are taught this. I think that it just sort of happens and because it's so fast it's difficult to recognize without the aid of video. In many cases, it happens because kids do not lunge into the skill(s) very well. Most kids have really poor hurdles and lunges in general.

Diving onto the hands has no mechanical rationale and through my 11 years of experience, it's a HUGE problem particularly when you start doing Yurchenko vaulting.
 

MyrtleWarbler

Coach
Coach
Proud Parent
Jul 5, 2008
15
ACoach78... The way you described it hits home, particularly about their legs coming together too soon...

One of the girls has started to improve, the other just doesn't seem to "get it" no matter how I explain. Obviously, "explaining" isn't much good without drills that put their body in positions that overrule the brain's bad habits! But, I have indeed told them it's not much different than hurdling for a RO, and that their front leg shouldn't leave the ground before the hands hit, etc. Their RO's are pretty OK - not great, but these are L5's and they continue to improve. They don't "jump into" their RO's, though. But now that I think about it, the one girl does indeed bring her legs together early, through the handstand. Good point for me to make to them.

We've been doing FHS's from a power hurdle with a little spot (they don't get over as well without). That seems to be helping. You just can't dive into it with only the power hurdle in front.

Weird little quirk, this thing. Thanks for all the input!
 
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