Healys and Higgin’s

I have been judging high bar all year and I have some suggestions on Healys and Higgins.  Obviously, everyone needs to learn these skills since they are so important in todays world of gymnastics.  However, it is very important that these skills be done to a handstand and not just meet the minimum requirements of “within 15 degrees of a handstand”.  The following is my progression for teaching a healy and a higgins:

First of all, it is important to understand just how a regular pirouette needs to be performed.  The pirouette from a front giant to a back giant should arrive in a handstand which means that the pirouette must be initiated on the way up.  In order for that to be possible the gymnast must first be able to do a front giant without ANY shoulder angle whatsoever.  In addition there must be a tapping action similiar to that used for a hecht dismount.  The hecht tapping action is accomplished by stretching just prior to the bottom of the swing followed by a pike and then releasing the heels into a mild arch.  At the same time as the gymnast releases the heels he should intiate the turn for the pirouette.  This should result in the pirouette being completed in a handstand.

In order to learn a Healy I use a low bar and have the gymnast first do the pirouette as described above finishing in a handstand and falling to his stomach with all parts of the body landing simultaneously.  Next, I have the gymnast do the pirouette and reach over the pirouetting arm to a cross grip and again landing flat on the stomach.  Once the gymnast has accomplished this I have the gymnast reach a little farther on the cross arm phase and continue turning landing flat on the back instead of the stomach.

At this  point the Higgins plays a major part.  If you can visulalize the Higgins you can understand that the progression descibed above is a combination of a regular pirouette and a Higgins turn creating a Healy.  Now if we discuss and work on the Higgins at the same time there will be a definite carryover from the Higgins to the Healy.  Here is how that works:  most gymnasts perform the Higgins on the way down after completing a back giant or other backward movement such as a stalder or free hip.  I believe that actually a Higgins should be performed as a forward piouette from a back giant or other backward movement.  In order to do this you must stack the skill that preceeds the Higgins. In other words the back giant must be performed right to a handstand.  Again this requires a giant with NO shoulder angle. In order to get the athlete to perform the Higgins as a forward pirouette start with a floor bar.  Have the gymnast practice kicking up to a handstand with an overgrip and then do a forward pirouette. You will find that the gymnast is in a mixed elgrip or elgrip which is a Higgins.  This will allow the gymnast to do this movement to a handstand instead of on the way down.  Now remember that this is a pirouette and like any 1/2 pirouette, unlike the Healy, there must be a leaning action in order to move the center of gravity over the pivot hand.  It has been said that our gymnasts may not have the flextibility to perform these skills to a handstand.  I believe that we have just not been teaching them to use the correct mechanics.  If you can get a video of Dylan Carney from Stanford you will see the Healy being done directly to a handstand and he specifically uses the hecht tapping action to make that happen.  This should be the standard by which we measure our performance of these skills and then we will lead the world in this area on high bar.

I would love feedback on these ideas.  I hope they work and it helps us to perform these valuable skills better than anyone in the world.   GOOD LUCK

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