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Variations of the Back-Handspring

Dear Coach,
Ok. Great I plan to order you're video. Just 2 other questions:
How long is delivery?  
Are there different types of back handsprings?
I have seen one type where the arms go back simultaneously and hit parallel and the feet are also parallel and I have seen another type of back handspring where one arm hits and then the other arm hits the ground behind it and the legs do the same (in this move nothing hits the ground parallel unlike the other move).
Richard R.

Richard asks a GREAT question. There are numerous variations of the "Back-Handspring."

Most people think of a common "Flic-Flac" when they think of a handspring. That’s when the tumbler begins with his feet together, springs back through a handstand position with both hands almost together, then he rotates over onto his rebound, landing with both feet together. This is the variation of the handspring that is most frequently seen performed on FLOOR EXERCISE during televised competitions.

By altering the hands and/or feet at the CONTACT POINTS, (where the tumbler touches the floor) a tumbler can create numerous variations. The three contact points are:

1. The take-off - This is the beginning leap from feet as the skill is initiated. Where the body is FIRST in contact with the floor.

2. The handstand spring - The landing onto and springing from the hands. This is the second point where the body is in contact with the floor.

3. The ending – The landing, once again, upon the feet which usually completes the skill. This is the third point where the body is in contact with the floor.

OPTIONALLY, there may be a fourth point of contact. We’ll call this the finale. The REBOUND can be considered one such a finale.

Another variation is how the hands or feet are placed or oriented. For example: If you were performing your handspring upon a balance beam, you may want to adjust your handspring for the narrowness of the beam. You may choose to take-off with one foot slightly in front of the other. That’s ONE variation of a handspring. Instead of the feet beginning together, they begin in a STRIDE position. Or, instead of landing with BOTH hands parallel, side-by-side, you may choose to land on only ONE hand. That’s a VERY advanced variation, isn't it?

That brings up an important point. Please, USE CAUTION!! Even if you’re an advanced tumbler you should ALWAYS rehearse new variations with extra caution. Use a SPOTTER. Small variations in hand or foot placement can be a bit awkward and confusing at first. Did you know that your tablet can now actually help you with tumbling training? Click here to find out how.

Another variation, one of my PERSONAL favorites, is a STEP-OUT landing. As the body passes through the HANDSTAND position, the legs STEP DOWN, one-at-a-time. I often use this variation to teach handsprings at first. It’s an easy, safe landing that keeps the hips and chest in good form, rather than collapsing into the squat out commonly found in beginning handsprings (because the body is not ready for a proper snap-down/rebound).

A tumbler can choose to have VARIATIONS at ANY, or ALL of the contact points. Variations may have a functional purpose, such as for the narrowness of the balance beam, or they may only have aesthetic value (choreographic choice).

To the casual onlooker, some handspring variations seem very similar to the walkover. A good tumbler should know the difference between the two skills. Handsprings demonstrate SPEED & POWER; the HANDS and FEET should NOT contact the floor simultaneously. A walkover demonstrates FLEXIBILITY and balance; the hands and feet DO contact the floor simultaneously.


You may also be interested in the following:
(FLASH player permission is required to view animations.)
Back Tuck Progressions
Benchmarks of Excellence
Cross Arm Spot
Gymnastics Jump
Jump, Set, Tuck
Lunge to Handstand
Round-Off Hand Placement
Straight Body Fall

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.




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