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Inconsistent Back Handsprings

Coach Wayne,

Here's one that you may not get too often.

I am a little over 40 but in good shape. Body fat < 10%, can do right, left and straddle splits, backbends from a standing position to level ground, many pushups, etc.

Most of the above is a result of martial arts training from a very early age of 14. I took Kung Fu and we did some tumbling there, without any formal instruction. Now all these years later, I am trying to tumble
some again. I am still doing martial arts and would like to incorporate some tumbling into my routines.

Regarding Back Handsprings

For a while - I seemed to have it down on a trampoline. I eventually progressed to doing them spotted on a mat and then finally - non -spotted on the small 1-inch mat. I never had a fall to speak of. I was so encouraged that I am now taking private lessons at a qualified gymnastics school. They have a tumble tramp, rod floor and a competition floor.

In essence, my technique on a back handspring seems to be much more correct than before, but I am terribly inconsistent. This has gone on for months. I never really had a fall, but I feel this is a mental block. There are days when I literally can't get the feel of it to even do 5 or 10 consistently on the trampoline. My only other thought is that the gymnastics instructors changed my technique some - for the better and I seem to
have lost my timing. It's as if when my arms go above my head that I just can't make up my mind to go. I will do an up and down action with my arms and eventually go, but I know that's not right.

Do you have any ideas?
I would be happy to supply more details if necessary.
Thanks for any help you can give.

Congratulations on your progress in Tumbling!

One important factor in sustaining progress is the "Frequency of Lesson" or the "Gap" between lessons. It may help you to leave less time BETWEEN your tumbling lessons. Champion tumblers are often in the gym 2 sessions per day 6 days a week, for at least 2 hours each session. Now, all that time is definitely NOT devoted to one skill or even one event.

Secondly: BENCHMARK your progress. When you're working on the handspring make sure to MARK (with athletic tape on the floor) where your hands and feet are landing so that you can focus on stretching out your skill over a longer distance. By focusing on specific achievement with a small detail of the skill you'll find you're better able to chunk them together successfully into a more sustainable skill.

Thirdly: Add diversity & play to your training. Find ways to create variations in skill development. For example. Do 20 handsprings without a rebound (but benchmarked). Then 20 reps with a rebound at the end. Then 20 reps with a STEP-OUT. Then move the same set-sequence from trampoline to a wedge mat... & with a spot... & on your own on floor-ex areas... then with an audience.

Lastly: Beef up the time you're on your hands. DEVOTE more time to being in a handstand position. 60 seconds at a time against a wall (belly to the wall). Next bounce on your hands... hopping with a straight body (first 3 hops... then work up to 20 hops in a row)

Have fun, be safe, push HARD

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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