For Coaches Mental block on back handspring

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Jul 29, 2007
My dd is 8 years old who just completed level 3, but is competing as a prep op for the last half of the season. She has her first meet as a prep op at the end of this month. The coaches are wanting to put a roundoff, backhandspring in her routine. She is scared.

I can put one hand on her calf muscle (no back spot, etc...) and she does a great backhandspring. If I remove my hand from her calf and try to get her to do one one her own, she bends her arms and nearly falls on her head, but she is still making it over.

Help!! Is there anything I can say to her, try with her, etc...? She literally has it on her own, she's just won't keep her arms straight. When I spot her calf, her arms are perfectly straight.

Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
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Luckily, RO-BH is easier than a standing BH if done right. Preferably before I have any kid do RO-BH, they can do BH-BH on tumbl-trak.

Another good drill is snap down from a HS to back handspring. I train this by putting a big block near the top edge of a wedge mat and they kick to HS with my help while standing on the wedge ( kicking to HS up the wedge is tough and generally requires me to help them to HS ). I actually motion them to a position past HS ( arched ) which is the position they would normally hit the HS in their BHS.

They snap their feet down and push off the block and I spot them or they do the BHS.

It will come in time.


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Jan 4, 2008
It is a common problem and not one to be too too stressed about because many kids go through it and it comes good with time. Practising a lot on a trampoline, or tumble trak or mat can help her develop the habit of doing it with straight arms when she is by herself.

Try doing a close spot, have your hand behind the leg but dont actually touch the leg. She will have more confidence knowing it is there, you can then slowly move away from her as her confidence builds.

Use lots of visualisation get her to picture herself doing it with beautiful straight arms and then do it. Make sure she is using positive self talk too, get her to say to herself "straight arms" as she is doing it and make sure she isnt saying "Don't bend your arms". Her coaches need to speak this way too. And say Straight arms rather than dont bend them. Because saying "dont bend" puts a picture in her mind of them being bent and she may then bend them.

Whatever you do dont push her. When she has fear and the skill is rushed she is more likely to develop bad habits. If the skill isnt ready for her to compete dont compete it, and let her know its ok, even if there is a deduction. It is just 1 skill she has many others she will do well, and it is just 1 apparatus again there are others. Dont let her get too stressed about it.
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