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Mental Block - straddle cast handstand on bars

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Krisztina10

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My daughter is becoming discouraged and frustrated and I am hoping folks here can offer some advice...

She's training level 7 and still doesn't have her straddle cast to handstand. Her coaches say that for months she can do it nicely if they very lightly spot her - and they say they aren't really doing anything to help her and she can do it on her own. But when she goes to do it alone, she's not even close and doesn't even seem to be attempting the same skill. She falls forward all the time, so she definitely doesn't have a fear of falling forward. And she has held handstands on the high bar over the pit - so she claims she is not afraid of doing a handstand on the bar. When she tries it on her own it's as if she never initiates that step where you go from a bent shoulder angle to straight up/vertical - not sure if that's when you open your shoulders? She gets her hips over her shoulder but the shoulder angle is still bent. They've done all the drills (straddle onto the bar & fall forward, etc.). And the coaches are adamant that when they spot her lightly she is doing it on her own. Any advice on what could be going on and how she can get past this? It just seems like something isn't clicking.

She's recently been behind on bars generally. In level 5 her bars was in the 9s by the end but she never shifted her wrist on the baby giant. Said it was scary. For the level 7 bar skills, the coaches think she has fear issues which are preventing her from swinging and tapping well in order to get the momentum etc. to do the skills. She's almost 12 and on the taller side for a gymnast (average height) and she's not lanky or super skinny. I know bars can be harder for her than for smaller gymnasts but they don't think strength is the issue and say she is strong.

She's ready on the other events and I worry she will quit over this. There's been little to no progress on the cast to handstand for weeks maybe months. Anyone ever had a gymnast with similar problems? Thanks so much in advance.
 

eucoach

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If it causes so much frustration, I would have her stop working the skill for a while. 2-3 weeks might be enough to "reset" and erase the negativity associdated with the skill.
Also - what's the plan if she does not get the skill on time? Can she do the routine without the giants (assuming that's what she needs the cast handstand for). Will the coaches let her compete level 7 if she has to do an easier bar routine?

Other than that....you said she is on the taller side. Has she had a growth spurt recently or is she going through one at the moment? Are her legs or arms growing faster than her torso? I've seen growth spurts causing a lot of problems with the straddle cast handstand in girls who did not have it down consistently by the time they started growing more...
 
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Krisztina10

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If it causes so much frustration, I would have her stop working the skill for a while. 2-3 weeks might be enough to "reset" and erase the negativity associdated with the skill.
Also - what's the plan if she does not get the skill on time? Can she do the routine without the giants (assuming that's what she needs the cast handstand for). Will the coaches let her compete level 7 if she has to do an easier bar routine?

Other than that....you said she is on the taller side. Has she had a growth spurt recently or is she going through one at the moment? Are her legs or arms growing faster than her torso? I've seen growth spurts causing a lot of problems with the straddle cast handstand in girls who did not have it down consistently by the time they started growing more...
She may have grown a bit but she's pretty proportional in terms of her growth.
They usually make them compete giants for 7 though they would be willing to have her compete an easier routine. However, she's apparently even having some trouble with that. It's odd. I think b/c she has some fear - which she's not totally aware of - she muscles her way through bars as opposed to being loose and working off of the swing and timing. Oddly while I could see this being an issue for giants etc. I would think it wouldn't be an issue for the cast to handstand. I just am lost on how it is that she can apparently do it with a negligible "spot" but then doesn't come close on her own. And why they can't pinpoint what she is doing differently when she tries it on her own.

And I worry about what this means for her gymnastics long term. If the coaches are right that it is mostly fear based and mental, will it just click and one point and she will progress from there. Or will she always have major issues on bars. I am aware that bars is very difficult and is often what holds girls back. it would be encouraging to hear of kids who had major blocks on bars and then overcame them to become decent or good at the event....but I worry she may call it quits before then.

As far as taking a break, it's almost like she's past frustration and has just resigned herself to the fact that it won't happen. So maybe that would be a good idea. Though I guess there is a risk it puts her further back.
 

Krisztina10

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Is she scared of giants?
She is not consciously afraid. But given the fear over shifting her wrists and the fact that she muscles her way (or at least used to) through bars instead of being loose and working with the swing, timing, tapping hard, etc. I think she is holding back due to fear & discomfort with the sensations. She is generally a more fearful/careful gymnast. Really has to get comfortable with stuff and ease into new things.

Appreciate all advice!
 

kipnastic mom

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Does she have a fear of going over the top in a handstand? My dd had a couple teammates that saw her go over the top and break her foot in level 5. When they got to level 6/7 they were afraid to go to handstand for fear of going over and falling. My own DD was ok with it, but, these others were not. The coaches worked with them on how to safely go over if you do and lots of mental training. They are still lagging as meet season is almost up on us, but, its a bit better than it was.
 

Krisztina10

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Does she have a fear of going over the top in a handstand? My dd had a couple teammates that saw her go over the top and break her foot in level 5. When they got to level 6/7 they were afraid to go to handstand for fear of going over and falling. My own DD was ok with it, but, these others were not. The coaches worked with them on how to safely go over if you do and lots of mental training. They are still lagging as meet season is almost up on us, but, its a bit better than it was.
Eeek. It's always scary to see someone get injured. My daughter was scared all level 5 of splitting the beam after seeing someone do it really badly and had major mental blocks with her full turn as a result. Lucky that your daughter was not as phased as her teammates.

So...she is ok trying to cast to handstand unspotted and going over the top/falling forward - though she's not in a full handstand when this happens. And she has held handstands on the high bar over the pit, which makes me think she's not afraid of that. I will ask though.

I suggested to her coaches that they just keep "spotting" her (they claim they are doing it with their pinky and barely touching her) and trying to transition to less and less contact. I am not sure it helps for her to practice on her own if she's just reinforcing bad movements/habits.
 

ldw4mlo

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Long winded here.

First she is not ”behind” she is on her own timeline. She gets it when she gets it.
Language is very important. There is a lot of pressure on a kid who feels they are “behind”.

What she needs to be hearing, especially from her parent, her safe person. Is don‘t worry you’ll get it (when you get it). Beyond that listen and let her and the coaches handle it.

What she has is a mental injury. You can not push her into healing quicker. She heals when she heals.

The fact that she doing it with a light spot and on the pit bar Is good. Let her be, she’ll go it alone when she is ready.

For the record I have a 2nd yr L8 gymnast, who is very cautious and through. She is typically last to get most skills. I will not allow anyone (and yes I’ve had the conversation with her coaches) tell her she is behind.

She just recently got her giant (like within the last month).. Yep she has been working them for 3 years. Granted she has had a couple of injuries but she is the last kid on her team to get them (most have had them for 2 yrs). She competed L7 and half a season of L8 (she could pirouette, but no giant.) without them.

Oddly she was the first on her team to cast to handstand. So she was actually out scoring the kids on her team with giants because they weren’t getting to handstand. Yes you can do giants without getting to vertical.

We expect her to have a solid season on bars. Now her series on beam is an issue. Her and her coaches are working on it. Me I just say keep working you’ll get when you get it.

And I’m not saying this is you but a cautionary tale. Just recently we had a girl quit. A pretty good gymmie. She got a block on what started as backwards tumbling. Coaches were letting her be, focusing her on the forward tumbling and what she could do. Her mom put a huge amount of pressure on her and the coaches for her to get it. The gymmie was then not tumbling at all. At all. It was very sad but she quit last week.

So yes trying to push them past a fear could cause them to quit.

Me, if I’d let folks(including us parents), put pressure my kids slow paced progress that would force her to so frustrated she quit. She would of missed 3 awesome years, where she had learned many other skills, bonded with her friends. And has truly learned the meaning of hard work and persistence. There is value in letting your kid know you know they’ll “get it”

Step it back. Tell her love you, go have fun and work hard. You’ll get it.
 

ldw4mlo

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Also, while her growth may not seem like a big deal. In gymnastics an inch of growth can have a huge impact on their gymnastic, along with puberty.
 

eucoach

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As far as taking a break, it's almost like she's past frustration and has just resigned herself to the fact that it won't happen. So maybe that would be a good idea. Though I guess there is a risk it puts her further back.

I've never experienced that taking the focus off of a problem skill (whether that's taking a break from doing it all together or just not correcting it for a while) will put a gymnast further back. Even if she doesn't get it quickly even after a break, it should reduce the importance of the skill for her and let her focus on more positive things.

I would talk to her coaches about it. Is the skill as big of a deal for them as it is for her? Is it as big of a deal for her as it is for you? Many things to resolve.....

....and then.....let it go. Don't worry about her gymnastics FOR her. Encourage her, tell her she will get it on her own timeline and once she has it, no one will ask her whether it took 10 tries or 10,000.
 

Krisztina10

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Long winded here.

First she is not ”behind” she is on her own timeline. She gets it when she gets it.
Language is very important. There is a lot of pressure on a kid who feels they are “behind”.

What she needs to be hearing, especially from her parent, her safe person. Is don‘t worry you’ll get it (when you get it). Beyond that listen and let her and the coaches handle it.

What she has is a mental injury. You can not push her into healing quicker. She heals when she heals.

The fact that she doing it with a light spot and on the pit bar Is good. Let her be, she’ll go it alone when she is ready.

For the record I have a 2nd yr L8 gymnast, who is very cautious and through. She is typically last to get most skills. I will not allow anyone (and yes I’ve had the conversation with her coaches) tell her she is behind.

She just recently got her giant (like within the last month).. Yep she has been working them for 3 years. Granted she has had a couple of injuries but she is the last kid on her team to get them (most have had them for 2 yrs). She competed L7 and half a season of L8 (she could pirouette, but no giant.) without them.

Oddly she was the first on her team to cast to handstand. So she was actually out scoring the kids on her team with giants because they weren’t getting to handstand. Yes you can do giants without getting to vertical.

We expect her to have a solid season on bars. Now her series on beam is an issue. Her and her coaches are working on it. Me I just say keep working you’ll get when you get it.

And I’m not saying this is you but a cautionary tale. Just recently we had a girl quit. A pretty good gymmie. She got a block on what started as backwards tumbling. Coaches were letting her be, focusing her on the forward tumbling and what she could do. Her mom put a huge amount of pressure on her and the coaches for her to get it. The gymmie was then not tumbling at all. At all. It was very sad but she quit last week.

So yes trying to push them past a fear could cause them to quit.

Me, if I’d let folks(including us parents), put pressure my kids slow paced progress that would force her to so frustrated she quit. She would of missed 3 awesome years, where she had learned many other skills, bonded with her friends. And has truly learned the meaning of hard work and persistence. There is value in letting your kid know you know they’ll “get it”

Step it back. Tell her love you, go have fun and work hard. You’ll get it.
I just LOVE your post. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and your daughter's story. She sounds like a terrific, hard working and confident (as well as talented) kid.

I have told my daughter numerous times that I am not worried and she shouldn't be either and at some point it will just click. I emphasize the positive feedback her coaches are giving her (when she does do it, she's got the best shapes on her team, etc.) Though I am sure that sometimes when I ask how it's going - even though I try to do it casually - it sends mixed messages. She has also responded that it's not just "all gonna click one day" and even if she gets the cast handstand, she's got to get giants, etc and my happy go lucky "you'll see it will all just click when you're ready" is simplistic.

The reason I worry is that she claims she wants to quit and I'm concerned that desire stems from what's going on with bars. I have told her she is free to quit anytime and just needs to tell the coaches. But she goes to practice without incident and comes home from gym happy each night (all while taking and doing well in accelerated classes). And the coaches say she does NOT act at practice like a kid who doesn't want to be there. She says she doesn't know how to tell them so I told her I can facilitate a meeting etc. Just say when. She doesn't. I think she's conflicted.

Talking to her doesn't unearth anything about why she wants to quit b/c she is stubborn and hides her emotions. She says bars has nothing to do w/ it but would never admit it if it did. Of course my even asking the question indicates that there is an issue on bars - ahhh. But she has said that changing the bars requirements is something that would make her like gym more. The reason I think bars may be contributing to her wanting to quit is b/c she is very aware and very conscientious - she wants to do what she is supposed to do. Hates being late anywhere, missing homework, or standing out in any way - even if it's having to do different workouts b/c of an injury, etc. And essentially, on bars, she is not doing what she is "supposed" to be doing. The coaches have been encouraging and positive and don't fixate on where she is/is not on bars. And I have made it clear to them that negative motivation will backfire with her. But I know they slip sometimes and tell her she won't get to compete on bars if she doesn't get x or y skill. This cannot make her feel good. I don't blame them though as I know she's got it in her head anyway. They don't need to say it for her to know it and be thinking it. But, based on your comments, I will again make sure they are being positive and encouraging.

Last night she said "mom, if I don't get the cast to handstand, I can't compete bars. You need it basically for everything". I told her "ok, so what? who the heck cares if you don't compete bars on the first or second or whatever meet? What then? Why does it matter" Hearing that did seem to help her. Though I need to confirm with the coaches they will let her compete the other events. I know some gyms have an all or nothing philosophy unless there is an injury. This would make me super angry and it would surely be the end of the road for her.

I'd hate for her to leave the sport b/c she's having trouble on bars. Heck, she'd be somewhat conflicted even without the bars issue (doesn't get as much free time, misses family vacations - HUGE issue for us all actually). But if bars were in place I feel we'd be in a better position to evaluate whether she really wants out. But then the last thing I want to do is have her continue if it's going to lead to feelings of failure, low self esteem, etc. (Her compulsory coaches say she is very scared of failure and would rather quit or not try than fail. I think this is getting better thought). I just wonder, if she had her bar skills at a point similar to her teammates, would she still be asking to quit? Maybe? I wish I knew.

Sometimes I feel that it just all shouldn't be this hard, you know? I feel like every year there's something. And, like your kid, she is way more cautious and fearful and takes longer to try and get new skills. There's a lot going on in her head and i think that's sometimes a negative in this sport. And our family life would be easier without gym. This sport sure has tested my parenting chops...
 

Krisztina10

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I've never experienced that taking the focus off of a problem skill (whether that's taking a break from doing it all together or just not correcting it for a while) will put a gymnast further back. Even if she doesn't get it quickly even after a break, it should reduce the importance of the skill for her and let her focus on more positive things.

I would talk to her coaches about it. Is the skill as big of a deal for them as it is for her? Is it as big of a deal for her as it is for you? Many things to resolve.....

....and then.....let it go. Don't worry about her gymnastics FOR her. Encourage her, tell her she will get it on her own timeline and once she has it, no one will ask her whether it took 10 tries or 10,000.
Thanks for your insights. I may suggest to her coaches that she take a break from it. I think it is a big deal for the coaches to the extent she needs it for her level 7 routine. But they have remained positive and are not making her feel like how she is as a gymnast is how she is on bars. I mention this in my other post - that I think it is important to her b/c she likes to be where she is supposed to be and blend in with the others. She's aware and pretty type A and not the sort of kid who isn't bothered by being behind everyone else. She definitely does not need to be the best. She's not competitive in that sense. But she wants to be in the mix. But she doesn't reveal her emotions and certainly not her insecurities. So it is hard to know exactly how much it bothers her.

Thank you!
 

ldw4mlo

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First thanks for taking the comments in the spirit they were intended.

It sounds like coaches are on it for the most part. And really the lesson here for her might be patience and persistence.

Last night she said "mom, if I don't get the cast to handstand, I can't compete bars. You need it basically for everything". I told her "ok, so what? who the heck cares if you don't compete bars on the first or second or whatever meet? What then? Why does it matter" Hearing that did seem to help her. Though I need to confirm with the coaches they will let her compete the other events. I know some gyms have an all or nothing philosophy unless there is an injury. This would make me super angry and it would surely be the end of the road for her.

I would hope they would still let her compete the other events.. And the reality is she can still even do bars without getting to handstand. Her scores will suffer but it’s not the end of the world. As is not competing bars. So good sometimes it’s good for them to get through worst case scenario and survive to get it. It is exactly that ..... so what...... the world will not end..

Last year mine had a short season do to an injury. And she took a step on skills because of it. It was also the first time her gymnastics life that she didn’t qualify for states. Something that she has always done at the first meet of the season. She was beyond disappointed. She was very close and her coaches really went out of the their way to try to get her one more opportunity as she had a very short personal season. And in the end she decided to make peace with not going to states. I think it was enough that she knew how much her coaches and parents believed in her to advocate for her. She was like mom I’m not going to do well, I’d rather put this year behind me and move on and focus on my skills.

And to bring it back around to you.....if this is the end of her gymnastics road.
Ok, so what? Or she wants some time off to decide. Ok, so what?
Thats not the end of the world either. One door closes, another opens..

This thread is a good read.


Continue or not, it’s really up to her. All you can do is encourage her to be at peace with it.
 

Flippin'A

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Have they considered trying to teach her a straight cast handstand rather than straddle? It might be hard for her if she's on the taller side, but if she's so stuck with messed up muscle memory on the straddle it might a way to shake her out of that. Even if she doesn't get it all the way up or do it perfectly simply feeling like she's making progress and working on something new might be helpful.
 

ldw4mlo

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I think it is a big deal for the coaches to the extent she needs it for her level 7 routine.
This bugs for and I have been thinking about it. And thinking out loud here.

She really doesn't need it for L7. She can do a L7 routine without getting vertical (I am assuming she is casting and not refusing to cast at all unless spotted). She will lose points, not score as well. Yes all that is true. And she can do a L7 bar routine.

And I think it adds unnecessary pressure on these kids to insist they can do a level if they don't have something (as long as safety is not an issue). And causes a lot of kids to leave the sport when letting them compete. Again "So What" if they aren't scoring as well. As time goes on the cast gets higher and the scores go up.

Makes me grateful our gym lets them compete as long as safety is not a factor. And its quite the confidence builder for the kids to see their scores go up. We have a couple of kids not getting to handstand in L8 and their bars scores aren't great but they are mid to high eights and they are scoring 35-36 AA. Far better for their confidence then staying a what L5/6?? because they aren't vertical.

The more I ponder it the more I think holding kids back over something like this causes more problems then it helps. And causes more kids to drop out sooner then they would if they would just let them give it their best. JMO and 2 cents.
 

Krisztina10

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This bugs for and I have been thinking about it. And thinking out loud here.

She really doesn't need it for L7. She can do a L7 routine without getting vertical (I am assuming she is casting and not refusing to cast at all unless spotted). She will lose points, not score as well. Yes all that is true. And she can do a L7 bar routine.

And I think it adds unnecessary pressure on these kids to insist they can do a level if they don't have something (as long as safety is not an issue). And causes a lot of kids to leave the sport when letting them compete. Again "So What" if they aren't scoring as well. As time goes on the cast gets higher and the scores go up.

Makes me grateful our gym lets them compete as long as safety is not a factor. And its quite the confidence builder for the kids to see their scores go up. We have a couple of kids not getting to handstand in L8 and their bars scores aren't great but they are mid to high eights and they are scoring 35-36 AA. Far better for their confidence then staying a what L5/6?? because they aren't vertical.

The more I ponder it the more I think holding kids back over something like this causes more problems then it helps. And causes more kids to drop out sooner then they would if they would just let them give it their best. JMO and 2 cents.
I totally agree with you. But I think the issue is that when she casts on her own her arms never get straight above the bar so it's not even a matter of her not getting to handstand. She doesn't get anywhere. Although, again, when she is spotted in a way that the coaches claim they are not doing anything and she is doing it on her own, she goes all the way up nicely. B/c of this they claim she can cast to handstand since May....just isn't/won't...without that teeny spot. They say she seems to do something entirely different when she does it on her own.

Re the suggestion of trying straight body, I don't think she is strong enough and not sure how high she'd get. I assume they've tried too. Though I haven't asked specifically.
 

H.J.

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This bugs for and I have been thinking about it. And thinking out loud here.

She really doesn't need it for L7. She can do a L7 routine without getting vertical (I am assuming she is casting and not refusing to cast at all unless spotted). She will lose points, not score as well. Yes all that is true. And she can do a L7 bar routine.

And I think it adds unnecessary pressure on these kids to insist they can do a level if they don't have something (as long as safety is not an issue). And causes a lot of kids to leave the sport when letting them compete. Again "So What" if they aren't scoring as well. As time goes on the cast gets higher and the scores go up.

Makes me grateful our gym lets them compete as long as safety is not a factor. And its quite the confidence builder for the kids to see their scores go up. We have a couple of kids not getting to handstand in L8 and their bars scores aren't great but they are mid to high eights and they are scoring 35-36 AA. Far better for their confidence then staying a what L5/6?? because they aren't vertical.

The more I ponder it the more I think holding kids back over something like this causes more problems then it helps. And causes more kids to drop out sooner then they would if they would just let them give it their best. JMO and 2 cents.

My kid competed L7 last year w/o CHS or giants. We just looked away when her bars score posted . She’s repeating L7 this year... she Finally got both skills this summer and then a week later was sidelined with a back injury for 8 wks and is now slowly trying to get back to where she was. She hasn’t made either skill again yet but I think it helps that she knows she *can* (b/c she did). Still, it’s so tough to see them struggle... I feel you!!! Tell her to hang in there... Sometimes it just takes a different coach to explain things in a slightly different way or to do a slightly different drill or to somehow re-frame it in a way that clicks. I find so often that just hearing the same correction or the same direction over and over again does not work – if it doesn’t sink in the first few times, it needs to be explained or demonstrated or spotted in a different way. Unfortunately, not all coaches are good at doing that. Maybe consider some privates with a different coach? Good luck!!
 
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Krisztina10

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My kid competed L7 last year w/o CHS or giants. We just looked away when her bars score posted . She’s repeating L7 this year... she Finally got both skills this summer and then a week later was sidelined with a back injury for 8 wks and is now slowly trying to get back to where she was. She hasn’t made either skill again yet but I think it helps that she knows she *can* (b/c she did). Still, it’s so tough to see them struggle... I feel you!!! Tell her to hang in there... Sometimes it just takes a different coach to explain things in a slightly different way or to do a slightly different drill or to somehow re-frame it in a way that clicks. I find so often that just hearing the same correction or the same direction over and over again does not work – if it doesn’t sink in the first few times, it needs to be explained or demonstrated or spotted in a different way. Unfortunately, not all coaches are good at doing that. Maybe consider some privates with a different coach? Good luck!!
Oh my lord. Bless her. Such crummy luck to get injured once she finally got her skills!!! Is she repeating b/c of the injury or would she have repeated anyway? What do you attribute her taking longer to get the skills on bars to?

And I 100% agree about needing to hear something new or from someone else...Why I came here for advice (insert wink emoji I don't know how to add). We have several new coaches on the staff so I thought that would help....though she's now been working with them for several months so not so new anymore. I hope they are being creating but not sure....She's started doing work in the belt although I am not sure what that's for. Once coach thought she wasn't strong enough to straddle cast to handstand but the others disagree. (I do too b/c I have seen girls who are bigger and/or weaker get it). And she's good at all the usual drills recommended. She can't press to handstand anymore but several of the girls can't and they're ok doing it. Once when a coach spotted her by pushing her shoulders to vertical from the front of the bar, she got up. So it's something with getting those arms/shoulders vertical. But b/c the others don't spot her hard at all I don't think it's strength. Rather her brain for some reason is not giving her body the cue to open up there when she does the skill on her own. My potentially dubious and uneducated theory.....

Good luck to your daughter. And to you.
 
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