high back handsprings are VERY hard on the wrists. You're right to encourage
your students to stretch them long and backwards. Rather than allow beginning
students to develop poor habits that are tough to correct later, I prefer
to keep the handsprings SLOW... and STANDING until they have a well-formed
technique. I also suggest that the first few hundred handsprings be "step-out'
rather than rebound exits. This allows the tumbler to keep the hips well-elevated
and moving backwards. Squatting and 'dead-landings' are eliminated.
FIRST: students MUST build adequate strength in the legs, hops and in the shoulders & arms to propel and control themselves. I review a great many strength exercises... specific to the handspring in my "Better Back-Handsprings" video. www.CoachWayne.com <http://www.CoachWayne.com>
SECOND: they must demonstrate MASTERY of the handstand (against a wall is fine) and the basic gymnastics positions. Any error in the handspring can usually be traced back to a weakness in the handstand... and it's MUCH easier to correct habits in the handstand because the body is not moving rapidly and risk is minimized.
THIRD: They must demonstrate... AT SLOW SPEEDS... SPOTTED... that they CONSISTENTLY know how to perform all the motions and positions of the handspring... properly synchronized... BEFORE they are allowed to move off by themselves or to advance to multiple handsprings/round-off handsprings. YOU as coach must keep the governor on them and DEMAND excellence of technique BEFORE the excitement of advancing. YES all kids fight this... but coaches who let the kids jump ahead with poor technique are ultimately doing them a great disservice.
Usually 300-500 well-formed repetitions are necessary
to create the habit of a well-formed handspring without a spotter or assistance.
Most of those repetitions should be accompanied by exercises sets that
isolate specific motions and positions that are mandatory in the handspring...
for example...a "Lean-sit-jump-backwards onto a wedge-mat with CONSISTENTLY
strong leg push and perfectly straight knees, extended feet.
Once they are tumbling alone... I find that it REALLY helps them to 'FEEL' a coach step BACK in and start spotting them again at HIGH SPEEDS ... roundoff-multiple handsprings... and you, as a coach, can 'sculpt' and 'guide' their body into optimum form. Once they 'FEEL' optimum handsprings a few times they cannot resist the yearning to have them again & will work hard to attain that feeling.
FREQUENTLY send advanced tumblers BACK to BASIC drills
and exercises .... to remind them to MASTER small details... (pointed
toes/ straight knees... properly positioned hands and head, etc.) &
make intermediate tumblers work with them in small groups.
Coach Wayne is the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos and books have been used by students and instructors world wide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for in-gym instructor training and performance tumbling clinics throughout the year. For booking information, coaches/owners should call 912.398.8082. Students and parents should request coaches/owners to contact Coach Wayne.
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