Aerial Problems

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acrogymnastics

New Member
Gymnast
Dec 5, 2015
11
42
Hey guys!

Side aerials have always been my dream skill. I can do a solid cartwheel and have been working on perfecting it with straight legs, pointed toes, straight arms, and a big straddle for a while now. My next step has been wanting to do a side aerial.

However, when attempting a dive cartwheel, I end up putting my hands down right away, even if I'm holding something. I put them down right after my foot leaves the ground, making it just a normal cartwheel with a hurdle, which I have been doing. I was wondering if anyone had tips on this. In a pop cartwheel where I pop my hands off the ground, I do so and then have to put my hands down again.. is there a way to prevent this? I really want my aerial.

Lastly, one arm cartwheels have been a problem. I put my hand down at the exact end, and have been working on that for a long time.. since one arm cartwheels and aerials have different feels/approaches, is it a necessary prerequisite for an aerial?

Thanks so much!
 

ayyyrial

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Gymnast
Mar 18, 2016
351
26
Your kick over the top is probably not strong/fast enough if you have to put your hand down in a one-handed cartwheel. Work on a fast, strong kick straight over the top and pushing tall through the hand that is on the ground.
 

azara

Coach
Coach
Gymnast
Jan 16, 2016
259
22
The two most important bits here are the hurdle and the kick over the top, because they both generate the momentum for you to turn quickly, before you hit the ground.

The important drill to go and do:

It's not enough to have a slow, nice-looking cartwheel. You need a very fast, nice-looking cartwheel landing in a solid lunge. Once you can cartwheel faster than Usain Bolt, then you can try snap-down (snapping your second leg down FAST next to the first one) and once you have that, snap-through (pull your second leg past the first one and through in front of you). Make sure you lift your chest up as quickly as possible, too, because this helps with the rotation in an aerial. You want to have so much force from your legs pushing through your cartwheel and you pulling upright that you have to take a few steps backwards. Snap-down and snap-through are much better than for learning the mechanics than a cartwheel to lunge, which is too slow.

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Okay, now you've got all of that down, you need to work on the hurdle. This doesn't need to be overkill (no need to run a kilometre and then leap three metres into the air!) but it does need to be powerful. The key is to make it long and low. Hurdling too high just means you hit the ground hard when you land and you don't get much power. Hurdling long gives you forwards momentum which you can use much more easily!

When it comes time to do the aerial, it's hard not to put your hands down even if you should be able to get over without them. The best way to get over this is to do it onto a wedge or mat in the foam pit, where putting your hands down will achieve nothing. Another very good exercise is to set up a row of blocks with a crash mat at the end. You can cartwheel off the end of the blocks and land on the mat, working on your hurdle and kick and finally trying without your hands. This is easier than on a flat surface because you have more time to rotate. Many people forget to pull their chest up, which means that they can't complete the last bit of rotation and don't land upright. Those "just missing" landing or putting their hands down at the last minute don't pull themselves upright at the end!

One-handed cartwheels (and cartwheels holding something!?) are not going to help you all that much. Dive and pop cartwheels are helpful for getting the feeling of rotation without your hands, but also don't teach you the mechanics very well. Once you have those mechanics, your hands become much less necessary and the dive and pop will improve on their own :)

Good luck!
 
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Ash.marie

New Member
Gymnast
May 25, 2016
3
24
I'm not sure if it'll help, but I know that for me a big help was stepping off of a panel mat ( Or a stepping stool when I was at home..I don't recommend that though, you could get hurt). For me, it helped me get the height I needed to not put my hands down and then when I got to the ground, the dive cartwheel was much easier!! I hope that helps even just a bit
 

coco_acro_

Banned
Banned
Gymnast
Jul 23, 2016
10
20
Try doing lots of straddle stretches: the wider you can get your legs, the easier it'll be to get over.
Also, you may want to try it on a trampoline if you haven't already (it sounds like the problem is more mental than physical) and do lots of leg exercises. You may also find that watching other people do them will help as you will be able to adopt techniques from them. I hope this helps and good luck! [emoji3]
 

acrogymnastics

New Member
Gymnast
Dec 5, 2015
11
42
Thanks guys. I can do middle splits/straddle splits so flexibility isn't really an issue. However, my main problem is this:

I put my hands down, but I know it's common. However, I put them down RIGHT AWAY. So it's not a dive cartwheel, it's a regular one with a hurdle. Any solutions?
 

ayyyrial

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Gymnast
Mar 18, 2016
351
26
You need not only straddle splits but also active straddle flexibility. More like doing a side kick or a straddle jump than a stretch. If you can already do that, then you also need to make sure you are engaging that action while trying an aerial (a lot is going on).

Does trying an aerial feel different at all from doing a cartwheel? Your set-up should be different. The step into an aerial is longer and deeper - your back knee should almost touch the ground. Of c ourse, your chest should be aiming up more. Try kneeling off a panel mat and doing a fast, fast cartwheel with barely any weight in your hands. Then you can run into it and do the same thing (off of a panel mat or springboard).
 

flipandfly

Member
Gymnast
Jul 13, 2016
116
I had some trouble with putting my hands down when I learned my aerial, too. What helped me most was doing it off a panel mat and trying to kick my back leg hard and getting my chest up as fast as I could. Dive cartwheels and one-armed may help, too. But most of all, you have to trust that you can make it without hands, and not wait for them to hit the ground, just go. Good luck :)
 
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