Training Bars – Back to Front

Through out my coaching career I spent a tremendous amount of time watching videos of the best routines in the world. I was not only watching the skills but trying to notice any trends the world class gymnasts might be doing. As the saying goes, “The cream floats to the top”, and the saying is true however it might be more accurate if it were, “The cream floats to the top and it all looks the same.” Watch the best gymnasts in the world with analytical eyes and you will see that almost all the routines are constructed the same.

In the case of bars you will notice that all the best gymnasts in the world have a strong dismount. No giant full pirouette immediate double tuck here. “D” dismounts are a minimum so that is what you see. How do they do this after their incredibly difficult and sometimes very long routine? I can’t speak for all of them, but what I did was train the routine from back to front.

Every day we would start bars the same. Simple warm up complex that covered basics. The elite compulsory routine is about as good as it gets to warm up with. Then start with dismounts. Everyday we trained dismounts first. Then we trained last halves. Then we trained full routines. Our dismounts were trained three times more this way. This is how the best gymnasts in the world develop the endurance they need to finish their routines with a strong D or higher dismount. What often separates the best Level 9 and 10 gymnasts from the rest of the field is their dismount. The winners are almost always the ones that finish with a bigger, better bang than the rest. I have seen many impressive routines at big JO meets, but the routines that win the most are the ones that finish with high difficulty.

You might want to implement this concept with all your optional teams since someday they will be competing “D” dismounts – hopefully.

4 Responses to “Training Bars – Back to Front”

  1. Valentin Uzunov Says:

    Hi Coach Foster

    I really like your approach to developing the special endurance needed for bar routines (especially at that higher level, where the routines really do require some serious endurance).

    Thanks for sharing your method.


    Valentin Uzunov

  2. Tom Says:

    Thanks Valentin for your comment. Good luck.

  3. mike Says:

    My girls always complain about feeling like they are slipping off. Is there something that can help with this? We dont have a pit so the girls cant just do alot of giants over the pit until they feel safe. We do chalk the bars but it doesnt seem to help that much.

  4. Tom Says:

    Mike – There are so many factors that could be affecting your girls feeling like they are slipping off. I will try to deal with as many factors as I think might be occurring.
    1. When learning giants it is imperative for their safety that they tap correctly through the bottom of the swing. An incorrect tap or no tap at all will increase the amount of force on the gymnast at the bottom (where the forces are the greatest) of the giant. A correct tap will reduce the amount of force, thus reducing the feeling of slipping.
    2. Can you hand spot the giant? We hand spot a lot in the learning phase for safety, confidence for the gymnast, and manipulating their bodies into the shapes we want them to have. Anything that increases the confidence of the gymnast is likely to help reduce their feeling of slipping.
    3. Can you use a strap bar? The strap bar is one of the safest and most efficient ways to teach the giant. The gymnast can focus on the proper techniques without worrying about peeling off.
    4. Over gripping. One of the most common errors a gymnast makes when first learning giants is over gripping the bar as they begin to swing downward. This is born out of the notion that they will not peel off if they do. However, this puts their grip in the incorrect position at the bottom of their swing, thus increasing the feeling of slipping off. I correct this by pressing my finger down on their wrist when they begin to swing to prevent them from over gripping.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if it does or if you need more ideas.