For Coaches staying "tight"

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gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
Hi - my DD struggles w/ staying tight, and keeping legs straight. For a while she had a good handle on straight legs but it has seemed to vanish. The are not horribly bent -

~ on her BWO the leg that goes over first bends a little when she is in the split part.
~ pullover on bars sometimes bent or coming apart a little. her casts are good and her back hip circle is good, just the pullover.

sometimes it seems like she is a wet noodle out there. she has her skills but it seems to be some fine tuning.

what would you suggest ? She is being told a lot to squeeze. and I hear a lot of "tight, tight, tight" I try not to say too much to her about it because I am not a coach and also as her mom I need to be supportive not critical. But when I have said something in the past she will tell me her legs were straight, she could feel them .... :eek: - BTW, they were not straight.
 
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gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
Could be a strength or flexibility issue. It is not an uncommon problem with younger girls still picking up body awareness and as long as the coaches are addressing it I wouldn't worry, it should improve over time. If she wants to work on her body awareness at home she could practice doing tight tuck, pike, layout positions on the floor, and rocking in the pike and layout with tight straight legs and arms, ankles together.

If she thinks just about pointing her toes, this will make the legs tighter. That doesn't address ankles together, loose lower back, or head out execution errors, but on something like a walkover, if she thinks about pointing her toes right off the ground, it may help straighten the legs. Of course a weak or loose kickover can be a flexibility or strength issue that requires more time and general competence in gymnastics to correct. It is good her coaches are correcting it now with basics rather than moving on to more advanced tumbling skills where it would be more exaggerated and ingrained, so it sounds like you're on the right track.
 

elilla

New Member
Feb 22, 2008
40
Omaha, NE
For bent legs I teach my girls to squeeze their thigh muscles. I usually tap them on the leg and say "see this big muscle right here?" then I tell them to try to squeeze it tight. If your quads are tight your knees are straight. I would also try some body tightening drills. There are some simple ones you could do at home and make them into a game. We play "statue." Have her lay on the ground with her arms straight out like Frankenstein. Then tell her you are going to pull her up to a stand but only if she stays tight like a statue. If her body is tight (especially her bottom) you should be able to lift her easily. Try going up and down. You can also have her lay down and lift her feet into the air. She should stay straight as a board with her bottom off the ground. Then let go of one foot at a time and see if she can keep her legs together.

Hope those made sense....if not email me! I agree with gymdog though....it is probably also due to strength or flexibility.
 

lannamavity

Member
Sep 13, 2007
409
way out West
It may sound simplistic, but if a gymnast can keep their legs straight on some skills and not others, they probably don't fully understand (or aren't physically prepared to perform) the mechanics of the skill they can only do with their legs bent.

Kids usually don't bend their legs arbitrarily. It usually serves a function such as aiding rotation, creating leverage...in other words, the skill is being performed incorrectly, and bending the knees is aiding in the perfomance somehow. Bent legs are the symptom of technique issues.

Repetition of proper body positions and technique usually corrects the problem. Allowing an athlete to "move on" with bent legs reinforces the "bent knee technique", so it really isn't the athlete's fault at that point.
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
It may sound simplistic, but if a gymnast can keep their legs straight on some skills and not others, they probably don't fully understand (or aren't physically prepared to perform) the mechanics of the skill they can only do with their legs bent.

Kids usually don't bend their legs arbitrarily. It usually serves a function such as aiding rotation, creating leverage...in other words, the skill is being performed incorrectly, and bending the knees is aiding in the perfomance somehow. Bent legs are the symptom of technique issues.

Repetition of proper body positions and technique usually corrects the problem. Allowing an athlete to "move on" with bent legs reinforces the "bent knee technique", so it really isn't the athlete's fault at that point.
Thanks - I think it may be more of an awareness or perhaps at times lazyness. I have seen her do pull overs and BWO's w/ straight legs. In fact a while ago I thought the problem was fixed. I am starting to wonder if it is simply because she has not competed since February and maybe she is not trying as hard (?). She is pretty strong and VERY flexible (sometimes grosses people out). I am beginning to think it's just lack of concentration on staying tight. She did say that her handstands are easier when she is tight today, so maybe it is starting to click.

Thanks again. I will try the excersizes.
 
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