Archive for the ‘high bar’ Category

Flyaway from the Bar

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I recently put up a flyaway gymnastics minute on youtube.  A minute is a pretty short time to talk about a flyaway so I am going to discuss it a bit here.First and foremost the gymnast must be doing a good basic swing.  By now most everyone understands that the basic swing is a pike or hollow on the way down, an arch in the shoulders and upper back in the bottom and a pike or hollow in the front.The thing that many people do not completely understand is the relaxation at the bottom of the swing. During the downward swing the gymnast must push away from the bar to eliminate any shoulder angle going into the bottom.  Once the shoulder angle has been eliminated the gymnast can completely relax through the bottom of the swing.  This is extremely important and if the gymnast doesn’t do this it will change the point of release.After the gymnast has achieved a bottom free of any tension in the shoulders there will be a natural kick that comes as a result of the arch in the bottom.  Once the gymnast becomes used to what the natural kick feels like he or she can help that kick which will in turn create much more power into the point of release.  It is important to note that when the gymnast kicks there may be a tendency to use the shoulders.  This will create a shoulder angle and can result in the gymnast traveling back toward the bar.  Therefore, during the kick the gymnast should be encouraged to maintain an open shoulder position.When doing a tuck flyaway the gymnast should bend the legs at the end of the kick and look for his or her knees.  If the head is kept in a neutral position and the gymnast waits to see the knees that can be the cue to let go of the bar.  When doing a layout the gymnast should wait to see his or her toes and then let go of the bar.  Hopefully, the cue of looking for the knees on a tuck and the toes on a layout will make the point of release consistent.Note: when the gymnast wants more rotation in the case of a double somersault the kick of the knees at the end of the swing will be more vigorous and could result in a slight closure of the shoulders.  This will increase rotation greatly.  It is just important that the gymnast does not close the shoulders a lot since that will result in going back toward the bar.  Consequently, I do not emphasize closing the shoulders at all when talking to the gymnast.  I am just aware that it is taking place and if the gymnast starts to come close to the bar, I encourage the gymnast to keep the shoulders more open at the point of release.Good Luck


Thursday, November 13th, 2008


Did you ever notice how many kids, boys and girls, kick when they try to do a kip?

This is a very common problem. 


When doing a kip, the ankles should be brought up to the bar and as the body swings back, the arms pull up and the legs extend.  However, when the legs are extended there is a tendency to want to kick.  This kick takes the legs away from the bar and makes it impossible to make the kip.  In order to make the kip, the legs need to extend and be kept right next to the bar.  Therefore, this is definitely not a kicking action. 


Sometimes we use the idea of “putting your pants on”.  This concept is easy to understand and relates to the gymnast that the legs need to travel up the bar and stay close to it.  If the gymnast is having a very difficult time making the kip it may be due to a lack of strength.  The strength involved in doing a kip is to fold: first, one must be able to pull himself to a support and second, bringing the legs to the bar requires a certain amount of stomach strength. 


In order to develop the strength involved in the kip it helps to do the following:  the strength to develop the pulling action can be developed by doing muscle ups with or without help from the coach, second, the strength to bring the ankles to the bar is developed by doing leg raises on the bar or preferably on stall bars.  By using the stall bars the use of the shoulders to facilitate the leg raise is minimized, therefore isolating the stomach muscles involved in bringing the ankles to the bar.


Last, but of great importance, the tap swing for the long hang kip and the glide action for a glide kip must also be developed and the coordination of the swing and the action described above takes time to develop.


One more thing, in an effort to isolate the kipping action, the drop kip will help.  The drop kip also requires timing and coordination.  However, there is no swinging movement to learn separately.  To accomplish the drop kip the gymnast begins in a support on the bar. With a very minimal cast the gymnast falls backwards, as if to do a back hip circle, brings the ankles to the bar, waits for the swing to go forward and then extends the legs along the bar while pulling him or herself to a support.  This additional skill will pay great dividends down the road.  I highly recommend you do this while learning the long hang tap swing and the glide swing.


Hope this helps with coaching the kip and remember “there is no kick in a kip”.

Healys and Higgin’s

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

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