I have noticed, of late, that there has been a tremendous misunderstanding when using the term “Hollow”.  Coaches seem to use this term as a catch all phase.  I am sure that if you do enough hollow body holds and rocks that the gymnasts understand what this position is.  However, do coaches truly understand the hollow position?  This is the topic that I would like to address.

I had the great fotune to meet Mr. Watanabe in 1970 when he first came to this country and started the “Hollow” phase which we are now in.  And I think that, as many things do, the term “Hollow” has been misinterpreted.  It is true that we want our gymnasts to achieve the most beautiful body positions and hollow is one of them.  However, how often do we emphasize the tight arch position?  Well in the beginning the concept was that the hollow position is no good without the arch position.  That everything is a play on opposites.  The yin and yang as it were.  Anyway, what we should really be emphasizing is the contrast and power that can be achieved by using the hollow with the arch effectively.

I will give you an example:

Layout Back Somersault – the most common place where this concept is misunderstood is on the back layout on tumbling.  Most coaches emphasize a hollow push off the hands on the back handspring which is good.  However,  how many try to get the gymnast to push the hips forward and open the chest with the arms past the ears on the takeoff?  By the  way, this would be a tight arch position.  Once this body position is achieved the gymnast should either remain in the tight arch for a layout or go back into a hollow body which prepares the gymnast to twist.

Many coaches suggest that when you push off the back handspring you should be hollow and you should take off in a hollow.  However, if you emphasize this I believe you will find your athletes doing a pike rather than a hollow layout position and usually piking because of under rotation.  If you use this technique to do a double back you will usually find the gymnast doing a double which under rotates with the head, more often than not, looking at the knees and creating counter rotation.

Therefore, remember that the preferred application of the “Hollow” is together, in contrast, with the arch.  You will obtain much greater power when this combination is applied properly.  Anyone who might like to have more specific applications discussed need only ask.  Mr. Watanabe himself is blogging on Gymsmarts community so there are lots of resources available.

For now “Good Coaching”.

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