hi coach Wayne,
I love your site, ( have never found anything remotely so good in the gymnastic world)!
My question is one of the front handsprings.
How can I get them to punch better off the floor? We do handstand pops during warm-ups, we also have popped up onto another mat. They can pop, but not enough for a full front handspring.
Any advice would be appreciated.
If your tumblers are popping up into a mat they are more than ready for the front handspring. Just to make sure... have them kick to handstand at the edge of a soft pad and rotate all the way over to their BACK... landing FLAT on their back on the mat...
I usually start this as a slow step to handstand... making sure they are starting in a gymnastic stand, lunging an adequate distance and reaching with the hands to the proper hand-placement at the edge of the mat... swinging fluidly through the handstand... and falling flat.
THEN.... add momentum and speed. Still from a STANDING START... have them KICK the straight leg, and push with the lunge leg more aggressively so that they SWING through the handstand VERY quickly ... as they begin their descent they should push with the arms... (still not a true punch because of the delay in pushing) and attempt to PUSH their body DOWN the mat... away from the starting position... landing flat on their back again. THIRD... move YOUR body in to spot them... as if you're spotting the step to handstand... EXCEPT now you'll LEAN your shoulders into their raising hips (at FULL kick speed) and actually help them REDIRECT their power UPWARDS.
This is difficult to explain via e-mail... but the end result is that you BLOCK their FORWARDS direction and help them REDIRECT it upwards with your shoulder...
If a student has good handstand form and a swift kick ... when you lean into their handstand ... their hands should gracefully lift off the floor... you'll actually lift their body up over your shoulder for a moment... then put them BACK down on their handstand and reverse the lunge. (they did NOT go OVER you completely...)
Once they've got the hang of that...have them move on over your shoulder... but make sure they are LOOKING backward with the head (where the hands touched the floor) and hold onto their arms at the shoulder ... gently forcing them into a VERY OPEN arched-back position... when their feet touch the floor (looking like a true, but slow handspring) have them keep the head and shoulders HIGH and BACKWARDS>.. and the HIPS pushing FORWARDS and OPENED>>>>>> don't worry about the rebound yet... focus on OPEN hips and arched back THROUGH the landing... I usually have them STEP two steps out of this with the arms still overhead... head looking at the ceiling (blind landing) and the hips pushing forwards.
Lastly... they'll KICK more aggressively.. at FULL speed... even allowing a step or two for weaker students... and THEN implementing the arm/shoulder punch ...
as a coach you'll continue in the same position... blocking them with your shoulder... redirecting their body over yours in an arch... but you'll do ZERO work if they kick fast and punch hard and arch through the landing. Any work you do is an indicator of their having:
1) entered the handstand position WEAKly/WOBBLY or SLOWLY
2) kicked through the lunch too slowly
3) tucked the head, dropped the shoulders (not reaching out with the hands)
Most importantly... make SURE their handstand from gym-stand to fingertips covers a FULL "BODY-LENGTH plus ARMS" distance... (make them lay down flat on the floor... fingers at a line... place a chalk mark/tape at their belly button and at their toes. Have them start standing at the toe mark... lunge-step to (without ANY unnecessary bends in ANY joints) the belly-button mark... and reach to the "finger benchmark-line." Now you can use your tablet to help build specific strength for superior tumbling, click to find out how.
THE MOST common error is the hands touching the floor TOO early (arms not straight overhead... instead they are in front of the straight-body-line) and the head tucking...
The second most common error is the hips TUCKING rather than opening (AFTER THE HANDSTAND... INTO THE LANDING... ) and/or the head tucking chin-to chest... and arms reaching forwards rather than backward.
I'm scheduling some camps for coaches and students this summer in Savannah.... if you are interested in finding out more about attending please let me know if you're a cheer or gymnastics coach (or other: dance/acro/martial arts) and how many students you have in your group. Where ya'll are from, etc. # of coaches, approx ages, skill-levels of coaches/students, etc.
Have fun, be safe push HARD!
Coach Wayne was 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 worldwide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for tumbling instructor certification training. For booking information, coaches/owners should text or call 912.238.1747.