Back Giant Technique

In our club, I see many backward giants on bars done with an arched body to get to the handstand. The reason for the arch is that the upward swing is not strong enough. Therefore, the gymnast thrusts the body to an arch to gain the speed to go up to the handstand. There are very few giants done with a correct technique and with good body position at the lower level.

The most common technical problem for this is an incorrect tapping action in the giant. When the body starts to fall from the handstand there needs to be good pressure (push) on the bar. The body needs to start hollow in the chest and/or start with a pike in the hips (or round in the lower back) to clear the low bar.

When the body falls farther down, most girls need to straddle the legs or pike deeper in the hips enough to clear the low bar. Some girls (particularly the taller girls) may need to arch over the bar to clear the bar so that they can do a proper tapping action at the bottom of the swing.

The tapping action needs to happen through the bottom of the swing. The proper tapping action is a series of body actions composed of: hollow (pike), arch and kick, through the bottom of the swing.

The purpose of the tapping action is to develop enough power (swing) for the body to rise up to the handstand position with ease. Many skills are done in the second half the giant so the technique to develop power is very critical for learning these skills.

The potential power for the tapping action is determined by the arching of the body. If you want to kick stronger and gain lots of power you should first arch the entire body very vigorously then kick hard.

However, in order to properly arch the body you must first prepare the body. The most effective body action prior to the arch is a hollowing of the body. Curving the entire body (hollowing the chest and rounding the lower back) enough to make the length of the body shorter and straddling the legs allows the gymnast to clear the low bar safely.

Many girls are afraid of their hands slipping off the bar at the bottom of the swing. This fear is developed during the early stage of learning the swing. They start re-gripping the bar by shifting the grip to grab the bar from the top before they get to the bottom of the swing on the down swing.

The problem of this action is that they will lose pressure on the bar during this action (losing the tension on the body as well). If they lose the pressure on the bar they cannot arch the body from the chest area properly. Then, the body will naturally arch from the lower body only, rather than the entire body. This is because the body is dropping down without the proper push on the bar.

The result of this action is a weak kick that will end very early on the way up to the handstand. In order to make up the loss of swing to make the giant one must arch the body to go up to the handstand.

Another common problem that I see is the arched (open) chest in the first quarter of the giant rather than the hollow position coming down to clear the bar. Many girls are capable of hollowing their chest on the way down when they do this in the drill. The drill is to do the first quarter flat down from the handstand onto the 8” pad on the floor bar.

If they can do this drill correctly but they have a problem keeping the body in the right position in the giant, this means they are afraid of pushing against the bar on the way down by shifting the wrists down. If the wrist and the shoulders are fully extended in the hollow position a strong (tight) arch at the bottom of the swing is not very difficult.

From there, a powerful kick can be created to bring the feet up all the way to the vertical position without a chest arch. The rest of the action necessary is to stretch up to the ceiling (vertical) to finish in a straight handstand.

If we are successful in teaching a technically sound back giant it will help develop many skills easier later on.

I would like to explain how this back giant benefits learning various skills in a later issue.

Have fun coaching!

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