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For Coaches Staying "Tight"

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gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
My question is can a gymnast be taught to stay tight or is this something that comes more through body awareness, experience or ..........

My DD really struggles with this and it frustrates me a bit because I have not seen a lot of improvement here. She is constantly being reminded to squeeze and stay tight. It does not seem to help.

She is very tight on bars and in handstands. She has a very good handstand and can hold them for a long time.

On floor and beam she is loosey goosey. She doesn't fall off the beam so I guess that could be worse but her form is just not great - except the handstand and dismount which are both very pretty.

She is scoring in the high 35's and 36's with being loose. Her worst even is floor where she scores an 8.850 almost every time.

Any advice would be appreciated. Or, do I just have to suck it up and wait for her to figure it out !!
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
4,084
Baltimore, MD
Country
USA
Ability to stay tight comes from a number of things. It can be taught and practiced to some extent, but a lot of it just depends on the kid. Some kids are naturally tight from the moment they walk into the gym. Some kids will never be tight as long as they live. Some kids learn it gradually over time as they mature. Some kids will one day walk into the gym and be really tight, just out of the blue.

I've seen kids in every one of these categories, and every imaginable blend between.

Generally, there are two things that are -- for the most part -- out of the coaches' and parents' control that determine tightness; maturity and comfort. As kids get older and more mature, they tend to develop better focus and better body awareness, which aids tightness. And as they get more comfortable with the skills they are doing, they can shift their attention away from simply surviving the skill and focus more on fine-tuning it.

The short version: I can't help you. Sorry.
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
Ability to stay tight comes from a number of things. It can be taught and practiced to some extent, but a lot of it just depends on the kid. Some kids are naturally tight from the moment they walk into the gym. Some kids will never be tight as long as they live. Some kids learn it gradually over time as they mature. Some kids will one day walk into the gym and be really tight, just out of the blue.

I've seen kids in every one of these categories, and every imaginable blend between.

Generally, there are two things that are -- for the most part -- out of the coaches' and parents' control that determine tightness; maturity and comfort. As kids get older and more mature, they tend to develop better focus and better body awareness, which aids tightness. And as they get more comfortable with the skills they are doing, they can shift their attention away from simply surviving the skill and focus more on fine-tuning it.

The short version: I can't help you. Sorry.


Thanks GT - that actually did help even though it does not solve the problem.
 

GymLyon

New Member
Oct 12, 2008
44
One drill I use to kinda introduce the idea of "tightness" to younger students:

Have the students lay completely flat on their back, arms down by their side. A coach lifts their ankles or toes, and if they are tight, then their body should be "like a board" and not bend, most students tend to try to lift their own legs, or develop a pike as soon as I start lifting the toes, I always remind them to straighten their board so it doesn't break. Also you can pull the legs apart and tell them to keep you from doing so (don't overpower their muscles obviously, just enough for them to have to squeeze their muscles). Switching what ankle I am holding randomly also helps.

This same principle can be used in other positions as well. Have the student hang on a high bar, try pulling the legs apart, pushing or pulling back and forth on the legs or stomach and have the gymnast keep a straight body throughout. You get the idea. Also using this same drill in different positions, like a pike or a straddle can reinforce the idea that tightness can be applied to any position.

It's not perfect but it gets the idea into young minds so the next time I say "you need to keep your leg, bottom, stomach, etc. tight", they kinda know what I'm talking about.
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
When the idea of tightness is introduced, I generally find that kids are giggly about squeezing their behinds, and hold their breath + push their ribs out to squeeze their tummies. Like what was posted before, kids are capable of every possible combo of tight/loose, and it can switch depending on the event as well oddly enough.

I like hollow body hops. Push up position with a defined hollow torso rather than straight, kids bend their elbows and knees slightly to hop forward without breaking the hollow. When they get used to them or if they find them easy they don't use their knees at all, just pushing off the floor with their toes/elbows. They're impossible to do without squeezing the rear, and it's enough of a workout that they're going to have to breathe, which forces them to squeeze to a hollow without the breath holding shenannigans.
 

grey09

New Member
Feb 7, 2008
15
What REALLY helped me was watching elite gymnasts on TV, youtube, etc who are always tight, and then watching videos of myself at meets and realizing I wasn't tight like they were. I decided I wanted my skills to look nice like theirs.
Usually you just don't notice you aren't tight. You have to make a concious effort to create the habbit. My mother helped me a lot with it too, constantly telling me stuff like "you know your legs are bent in your backwalkover?" I thought they were straight but after watching on video I realized they weren't.

So my advice would be to keep reminding her and having her watch herself.
 
K

KBT

Guest
I agree with grey09. I really thought I did have straight legs in most of my skills until I started watching myself on video and realized they were bending all over the place. I'm a visual learner so the video was a great help.
 
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