Culpâ€™s Letter (number two): The World of Style
If this summerâ€™s XXIX Olympic Games in Beijing had a slogan for womenâ€™s gymnastics, it could be â€œAll Good Gymnasts Go Artistic.â€ Certainly, the gymnastsâ€”whose routines are the worldâ€™s top guns (and I salute all Olympians!)â€”are schooled and trained on the four events. But I couldnâ€™t help but be taken by a whole lot of little things (make that big things)â€”and thatâ€™s where the artistry comes in.
Here are 10 of the most simple and â€œartisticâ€ things for a gymnast to learnâ€”only a small percentage of gymnasts hit all 10 on the balance beam and floor exercise:
Know every finger: Anyone who thinks that fingers (and feet) are insignificant when it comes to building a quality gymnast is putting himself in a position to lose a lot of points should a judge be involved. Just picture this: First place your gymnastâ€™s hands into a pair of mittens, put her feet inside her sneakers and start running some routines. Now I ask you, how attractive is that?
Use head movement: You must go for trying to use your head, which allows for more movementâ€”and adds to the aesthetic impact. The typical gymnast should watch how the top-ranked gymnasts excel at this. They lift a chin up and then fine-tune the head with purpose into the routine. A certain amount of finesse is required to move the head artfully.
Prepare the body: Youâ€™ll see the gymnast using every muscle in her body during a full-swing bar routine as she soars mightily from low to high bar. You can relate to that, right? You can train that, right? Well, you would be wise to become as disciplined with the physical attributes of style. You have to be good at knowing (instantly) every technique that it takes for rhythm, timing, speed and fluidity to score well. The Code of Points will help you out, too. It lists deductions on everything from A to Z.
Study the details: Now, with the use of Level 1 – 6, the detail associated with compulsory routines is an enormous advantage. Gymnastsâ€”with compulsories behind themâ€”are discovering that they need detail as much as ever for optional routines. Theyâ€™re also going to pay attention to toes, the head and neck; the ball of the foot, the chest and shoulders, and they will quickly improve. So up the detail to reach a more style-driven routine!
Express exacting emotion: A lot of gymnasts are too serious before (or after) they make a skill, or theyâ€™re constantly smiling throughout a routineâ€”it never varies. By exacting your emotionsâ€”a single smile on a floor part, for exampleâ€”youâ€™ll keep the expression full of life instead of ending up in some type of funky mood when it comes to expression.
Recognize the line: Since gymnasts must have the physical â€œstraight bodyâ€ of line on the four events, their aesthetics have to be gradually developed into the dazzling artistry. Gymnasts are going to have to learn the muscles associated with the lineâ€”and that means earning the â€œartisticâ€ title. I suggest that young gymnasts arrange a private lesson with a professional choreographerâ€”especially one that knows gymnastics.
Finish the movement: The near-robot gymnast doing a routine should really slow down. A lot of gymnasts are too quick to zoom in-and-out of every combination in the routine. Thereâ€™s no completion of the elements, which is created by a stable and set torso that allows the gymnast to move their arms and head freely, resulting in a great finish positionâ€”much to the relief of the judge!
Vary the rhythm: Rethink dance. A good rhythmic-type routine is crucial for artistic gymnasts and the â€œdanceâ€ on-the-gymnast has to fit, like a glove. Since gymnasts need to practice a four-event-all around during their workoutâ€”only a few of them try to take ballet. Hereâ€™s the best part: You have to be creative to begin building the artistic into your gymnast.
Train the eyes: The gymnastâ€™s artistry is most effective by boosting the eye contact and focusing head movements to engage audiences. It also just makes sense, as the gymnast uses specific â€œspots,â€ corners on the floor and marks on the beam to achieve overall polish and nail down the routineâ€™s â€œturn or bonus jumps.â€
Improve your timing: Ever wonder how young girls who couldnâ€™t bench-press their own body weight have incredible power in gymnastics. This magical demonstration is profoundly â€œtiming.â€ With this kind of timing in the gymnastics and, in artistry, the gymnast seems to sends a message that says, â€œSee what a girl can do?â€
Now, why limit yourself to 10 little-artistic gymnastic things? Conventions and workshops dedicated to artistic gymnastics will improve your program, too. Check out my educational lecture Building the Artistic Gymnast…the Style Rope Way. Visit Gymnastike.org, where I recently presented for the Gymnastics Association of Texas (GAT); and stop worrying about bombing gymnastic meets during the season. Go to work on â€œhittingâ€ the artistry, and watch those scores soar like a B52.