Some Thoughts on the Tap Swing Technique for the Back Giant

I have discussed the technique on the back giant in a recent issue. I mentioned in the article the importance of the tapping action in the giant and how it will affect the execution of various skills.

In this issue, I would like to discuss where the tapping action should start under or over the low bar in the back giant.

The majority of girls who are doing a back giant use straddled legs to clear the low bar. Otherwise, taller girl’s feet will reach the low bar and the feet will hit the low bar. However, young and short gymnasts need not worry about reaching the bar with their feet. Therefore, they can keep the legs closed throughout the giant.

Occasionally, you will see taller girls who keep the legs closed and use a hip pike to miss the low bar. However, the timing of the tapping action will be very difficult to make correctly with this technique. So, you will not see very many done this way by taller gymnasts.

I attend the Women’s National Team training camp 7 or 8 times a year as one of the staff members and noticed more than half the national team girls uses both technique in their giants.

Some girls use over the low bar tap on every giant and some girls use over the low bar tap only prior to big moves such as release moves or dismounts where more power is required.

In our club, the majority of the girls use the under the low bar tap. This is because, the timing of the tapping action will be the best if they pike their hips slightly with straddle and miss the low bar under, then do the tapping action through the bottom.

If they start tapping over the low bar, at this stage, they will start kicking the legs forward too early and they will never make the giant to the top. Generally, most of the girls who just start to learn a giant are not strong enough to hold a long arch, then kick their legs at the proper time.

Once they learn to do a giant with straddled legs and tap under the low bar, they can generate enough power and the speed to do most of the necessary skills for JO routines. Therefore, it is not a big factor to change the giant technique for most of them unless they are adding a big dismount or high difficulty skill.

In the recent international Code of Points, it is advantageous to have a more difficult routine to score high in the elite level. Therefore, all the gymnasts are trying to put as difficult a routine as possible together to get the highest start value for their routine. In order to put a very difficult routine together, it is essential for them to make all the skills with little effort. The extra power of a giant is a great help to give the gymnast more power and the speed to make the skills with greater amplitude and ease.

It is extra work for the coach as well as the gymnast to learn the timing of the tap over the low bar. When you tap over the low bar it is important that the feet not hit or clip the low bar which can change the timing of the tap through the bottom of the swing.

When the gymnast taps over the low bar the shoulder extension and the upper chest arch must start earlier to generate more powerful and longer kick through the bottom.

This extra power could be used to create more airtime for release moves or dismounts so that you can add more twist or flip to elevate the skill value.

We try to teach this technique to the gymnasts who are working toward the elite level and also to the JO gymnast who aspire to put higher value skills in their routines.

Have fun coaching!

Edited by Dan Connelly

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