Another vault question

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Oct 5, 2008
On a handspring, where do you put your hands on the vault?
I assumed that it'd be around half way, and was taught that, but a coach in my gym tells us to put them on the very very end :S i don't know whether that's right or not - i'd never usually question what a coach tells me to do but he's..... reeeally not that experienced? If you get me :p He's probably right, i've just been wondering for aaaages so thought i'd ask. It seems a bit extreme to put them on the VERY end and i have to put all my concentration into reaching it/not going over the end xD And then i can't get any flight off =/

He never used to say to put them on the very end (as far as i remember) until the little ones started vaulting handsprings and only reached halfway then kinda flopped off the end and kept hitting their backs, and now that coach is obsessive about all of us reaching the VERY end.

My handpsprings are so much better if i reach about half way or 3/4 of the way then get good flight off in order to not hit my back, but he insists i put my hands on the very end and then my handpsprings are rubbish >_<
Where do you guys put your hands?

Btw i don't mean to question a coach's coaching XD And i know it's much more likely that he's right than me - just a question :)


Jul 5, 2007
Depends on the vault and the vaulter, but I don't tell kids to reach all the way for the end. For beginning front handsprings then around the middle of the table I guess, it's hard for me to describe the exact spot. For a front front, the turnover is faster and sometimes people prefer to hit closer kind of like the curve although I never liked that. But I don't want beginning handsprings doing that.
Sep 21, 2008
It sounds like your coach simply wants to be safe. Reaching for the end is not bad, but it is certainly more difficult. It does offer for a nicer post flight, depending on the ability of the gymnast (then again.. that is a bit of a loaded statement...).

If you dont feel comfortable with something, the best person to talk to is your coach. Many times "less experienced coaches" learn a lot from talking to their gymnasts and learning with them. However, don't go into the conversation assuming youre going to teach him something, as you may get a wildly unpredictable answer, and you may offend him, causing trouble.

I know that I learn a lot from talking things through with my gymnasts... I always take a step back and try to remember that they are the ones doing the skills, not me. So how they feel certainly plays a part in how they compete and perform.

Best wishes



Jun 24, 2008
If you focus on reaching toward the end of the vault, a lot of gymnasts will break their shoulder angles and lean forward and dive onto the table instead of contacting and leaving the vault just before vertical. That's one of the ways to get those super-slow front limber "FHS" vaults. I prefer to have the FHS contact the table somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way down the table.


I was taught closer to the end of the table, but not at the very end.

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
I asked my gymmie what she was taught. Said to start aim for the largest area on the table which would be about 1/2 way and then move out a little as you get a stronger hurdle. She said she never reached for the end of the table---couldn't get a good block that way. Also had trouble controlling the landing going off the end.
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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
The by-the-rules answer: it doesn't matter.

The ideal technical answer: put them as close as you can to the front without allowing any lapses in technique (ie pike, break in shoulder angle, etc)

The practical answer, and the way I coach the vault: when you're just learning, put your hands near the back. This way, if you don't have sufficient block, you won't land with your back on the table. As you get more powerful and more confident, you should try to turn over faster, which will result in your hands hitting closer to the front of the table, but this should occur after you have already attained enough power that you don't have to worry about hitting your back on the table.
Jan 3, 2009
Dallas, TX
Definitely put your hands more towards the middle or middle-end. If you reach for the end, your feet will take too long to rise and you won't be able to block well. If you reach for the front, you'll most likely create a shoulder angle and/or hip angle and then you definitely won't block! Run fast, do a quick, aggressive arm swing, and kick those heels! Good luck!
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