Coach Wayne, i have a six year old that is an all-star cheerleader.
She has been working on her backhandspring for about 3 months on the
trampoline but 2 days ago she did it on the floor for the first time,
and her form was great. After doing it several times, she began to bend
her arms and land on her knees. What can i do to help her? Thanks.
handspring often requires several hundred HOURS of individual work
to master. By Mastery I mean, the skill remains SAFE, STRONG,
PROGRESSIVE, CONSISTENT and BEAUTIFUL over LONG periods of times and
various environmental changes. Getting and losing a skill such as
the handspring is very normal for an intermediate athlete, don't
Every time a student grows or goes through a significant change in
social or external environment (such as moving from tramp to mats
or mats to gym-floor) she'll have to re-adjust. Even changes in her
speed or form will occasionally force her to 're-learn' the skill. Relearning
usually takes place quite quickly.
Keep your daughter working on the trampoline and OCCASIONALLY put
them on the floor then go BACK to the Trampoline. Don't expect the
transition from tramp to floor to take place all at once. ANY time she's
strong and using good form on the trampoline move her to the mats
for a few repetitions. Anytime she starts to lose her form you should
move her BACK to the trampoline. Think in terms of MANY WEEKS not
any ONE practice. Habits develop over MANY repetitions and long periods
The trampoline is different from the mats in that it depresses and responds
more slowly but more completely so that LESS STRENGTH is needed to
perform a handspring. Have her spend EXTRA time working on her LEG push
to develop complete expression and greater power. Use straight knees,
pointed toes and fully opened hips to develop the LEG strength she'll
need to have a well-formed, full-speed handspring on mats.
A good place to evaluate the progress of her handspring is in the HANDSTAND
position. YES, the handSPRING has a handSTAND in the middle of
it. OFTEN students will arch through the handstand position without ever
MARKING a correct (well-formed) handstand. In fact there should be a
BEAUTIFULLY formed, strong handstand in the middle of the handSPRING,
but the body will move THROUGH that position VERY rapidly. Most
of the time when we think of a handstand we think of the skill as being
STATIC, BALANCED, without movement. But the handstand POSITION
is crucial to the handspring and if a student fails to pass through
a well-formed handstand then she'll ALWAYS have trouble with her power-tumbling.
Have Coach Wayne come
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SO have her PRACTICE her handstand against a wall
VERY often. 10x per day for 5 seconds each and if there are ANY
errors (feet apart, hands too wide, back arched, head sticking
out, etc.) she must do TWO additional handstands to make up for the
error, or start over at a ZERO count.
Finally, I recommend that your daughter practice STEPPING out of
the handspring rather than REBOUNDING. So, her feet should NOT come down
together, (rebounding) rather, AFTER she springs THROUGH her handstand
position (in the handspring). Instead, she should split her legs and
step BACKWARDS on ONE foot (through a LONG LUNGE STEP position) and.
then close the skill by CONTINUING backwards into a STAND position (feet
together) with the arms HIGH overhead. This
will develop the HABIT of holding the hips HIGH off the floor instead
of letting them drop (knees hitting) and keeps her center of gravity
at the correct height for MULTIPLE handsprings. It's important to develop
coordination in BOTH sides, so the student should step out LEFT,
and then RIGHT, alternating. After a few hundred successful step-outs,
and assuming the core abdomen/back strength is sufficient, the two-footed
snap-down/rebound can be introduced.
Additional strength exercises are available in my "Better Back handsprings"
video and my new "Basic Handstand Position" video details
a well-formed handstand. I recommend BOTH for ANY tumbling student who
has NOT yet mastered her handSPRING. My competitive collegiate cheerleading
squad ALL practice their basic handstand position AND foundation strength
building exercises at EVERY practice 3x per week. My Olympic gymnast
practices her handstand at every practice and before every competition.
That's one of the reasons why she's an Olympian.
Have fun, Be safe PUSH hard!!!
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.