My daughter is a power tumbler. We have your video and it has been very
helpful. My question is she has a very strong round-off back tuck, she
gets a great push coming out of the round off and gets great height on
her tuck, and even her layout. The problem is she has problems with her
back handspring. She tends to lift one leg instead of pushing through
the floor and doesn't get the same push as she does in her tuck. Are there
any tips that you can give her to get the push need for a better back
push into any skill is virtually useless unless there's something to push
against... in this case...the floor. If your daughter is lifting one leg
off the floor rather than pushing it completely straight BEFORE she leaves
the floor, then she is definitely loosing a great deal of the potential
power, grace and beauty of her skill.
The error, however, is extremely common. The way you're describing her
tumbling makes me thing she's simply set up a weak habit for the leg-push
into her handspring. Finding the exactly drill to allow her to correct
herself is our goal. Here an exercise set that should work.
1) In day ONE of my "Better Back Handsprings" video... during
the first lesson... I discuss in DETAIL the extension of the hips and
knees through the leg push. Start there and have her review that lesson.
Pay particular attention to the part where I am actually spotting and
holding the tumbler. Please realize that Brian (in the video) is demonstrating
the exact error she's making, although he's exaggerating it for me. To
correct the error we watch him FULLY EXTEND both knees AGAINST the floor...and
STRETCH them as straight as possible THROUGH the handstand position. Your
daughter must make the same correction although the problem is only with
one of her legs.
2) NEXT she needs to isolate the skill she's working on so she's not attempting
to correct the leg-push in the handspring while focusing on the round-off
and flip. Have her schedule 10 minutes or so in her next few workouts
EXCLUSIVELY to the back-handspring.
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3) I would have her begin that 10 minute training period
with LEG PUSH exercises onto an incline mat. This exercise set allows
her isolate her knee straightening in the leg-push. It is simple, clear
and quite effective.
a) Stand at the small end of a wedge/incline mat. (at least 8 feet long)
b) Starting in a gymnastic-stance position, have her fall FLAT back onto
the wedge with a straight body. This simply allows her to point her attention
to the STRAIGHTNESS of her knees when she's standing and keeping them
straight throughout the fall. (arms overhead) Her body should be perfectly
straight, head-to-toe, throughout this drill. Remember to "SQUEEZE
the legs COMPLETELY straight and tight."
c) Next, add a small JUMP/PUSH into that fall. The ONLY part of her body
that's changed is her knees... as she leans she bends her knees and then
pushes them straight and HOLDS them straight after the jump as she 'flies'
onto her back. Again, "Squeeze the legs completely STRAIGHT."
Make sure she REALLY focuses on those knees. You should SEE her leg muscles
tighten and once the knees are straight the legs must remain straight,
from hips to toes.
d) Finally, progress from a small jump to a GIANT jump. Now the jump should
be in 'real-time' (as if she's actually doing a handspring) with the same
POWER needed for the handspring. Have her also swing the arms into this
jump for about 1/2 the repetitions. On the other half the arms should
remain straight overhead.
4) NOW, move her to standing back-handsprings (level floor) on a straight
line. Mark "body-length-plus-arms" (as in day four of the "Better
Back-Handsprings" video) & make sure she can CONSISTENTLY push
knees straight & KEEP them straight. You should be able to watch her
and SEE her pass through the handstand position of the handspring before
the snap-down. These can be spotted or solo handsprings. Her goal is twelve
perfect standing handsprings. (I recommend a step-out rather than a rebounding
handspring at this point)
NOTE!!!! & HERE is the TRICK....
If she fails... even ONCE to push the knees COMPLETELY straight...(and
KEEP them straight) or if she bends the knees OR the hips AT ALL in her
spring through the handstand position ... she must IMMEDIATELY return
to the wedge and repeat those earlier-basic exercises three or more times.
Most students do NOT want to return to those simpler exercises... this
becomes a discipline tool. If she cannot perform the progression correctly,
she must return to the simpler drill to correct the error.
After a while, she'll catch on and will take command of her OWN body and
DEMAND that it perform correctly... that the knees straighten COMPLETELY
through the leg-push. She'll be able to demonstrate correct leg-work in
the handspring 12 times CONSTANTLY.
6) Once the standing handspring is consistently accurate... advance to
multiple standing handsprings... and round-off handsprings, etc. Through
repetition she'll develop the CORRECT HABIT, effectively replacing the
The poor habit may slip back in as she adds difficulty or complexity to
her tumbling... or if she becomes a bit tired or lazy. It still happens
to me after over 20 years of tumbling. But now you know how to correct
the pattern before it redevelops into a bad habit.
Please let me know how ya'll are doing... stay in touch!
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.