I've heard conflicting suggestions about whether a gymnast should have
her head neutral (not looking at hands) or flexed slightly so she can
look at her hands while in a handstand. I know there should be no arch,
and she shouldn't take her head out from between her arms, but most gymnasts
feel more comfortable at least tilting their heads so they can see their
hands. Is that OK, or is it better not to look at all and have the top
of your head facing the floor?
I use the 'head-neutral' position... and allow enough tilt for the student
to also see her hands. The trick, for me, is to use the descriptive, "Look
through your eyebrows and just BARELY see your hands, but keep your chin
as close to your chest as possible." I think it's CRITICALLY important
for students to see the PRECISE placement of their hands... to accurately
reach to a designated line (or point) in the lunge-step-reach-to-handstand
(& skills using it)... so blindly placing the hands is a NO NO. But....
the (chin-lift) head tilt should be minimized to an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM to
avoid any ARCHING in the back... and to avoid creating a weakened angle
of support in the shoulder. Obviously the hands must be directly over
the hips and shoulders.
Most students... when told to 'look at your hands"
will tilt the chin TOO MUCH. They should learn to work into and out of
a handstand with momentary glances to where the hands & feet should
be placed... but rely upon good biomechanics (rather than instinctive
comfort) for well-formed tumbling.
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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: www.CoachWayne.com,
email@example.com or 912-238-1747, 912-398-8082.
Interestingly, I've recently found that a 'perfectly relaxed'
head position... (in the handstand) creates a rather ideal 'neutral' position.
I recommend finding ways to get your students to learn
to 'dangle their head loosely' from their shoulders. (when upside down)
. That usually REQUIRES that they LEARN to identify "Chin on Chest",
"Lift your Chin"... and turn/side-tilt positions also... so
they recognize WHEN they are using muscles in the neck to HOLD a position
of the head...and when everything is relaxed and the head is truly neutral.
Beyond that... teaching them to LOOK WITH the EYES independently of head
movement... while the body is changing positions... is a vital KEY to
controlling their tumbling.
Have fun, be safe, push HARD.