WAG Back handspring: Hands Starting position

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melissaallen59425

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Mar 1, 2022
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What is the proper back handspring starting position? I see two schools of thought, one with hands vertical straight up into a swing, the other is hands starting horizontal . See pictures below.

In Women's Gymnastics:
(a) Which way do judges look for and award more points?
(b) Which way do majority of the female gymnasts use?
(c) Also, is it different for Men's gymnastics by any chance (same two questions above), for judging and majority use among men athletes?

Reason it came up: My two coaches at gymnastics class were teaching different styles.

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LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
133
When I do back handsprings (stepouts) on beam I start with my arms up, and my hands together like they would be on the beam. Then I swing. I believe everyone at my gym does this.

We don't do very many standing back handsprings otherwise, except for the occasional drill and warm up. I don't think our coaches care how we do it, as long as our form is good. One of my coaches is a judge, so I'm sure if we got deductions for doing this a certain way she would have corrected us. You never compete a standing back handspring on floor though, unless it is part of your dance in Xcel or Optionals.
 

LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
133
I know this was a question for someone else, and I am not a coach, but my coaches did not "teach" this one way or another. Sometimes we even do them without an arm swing. It depends on the drill and what the gymnast prefers. I think you're good to do it either way, as long as you have a technically correct and powerful back handspring.
 

Splat

Coach
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Feb 17, 2016
166
The idea behind starting with your arms in front and not by your ears is that it helps with connecting stills. For example you can't connect a roundoff to the back handspring if you swing your arms. So you would practice landing your roundoff with your arms out then when connecting the would be your "swing."
 
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Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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I teach arms at horizontal for back handsprings.

I find it works better for most gymnasts.

For a start there is the arm swing, ideally you was they gymnast to fully swing their arms back and up to theirs ears on a standing flic. If they start with arms up, they need to swing them back 270 degrees to get to the backwards horizontal and then back up to ears, rarely does that happen, they tend to short cut. Starting at horizontal means they only need to swing 180 degrees to hit the backwards horizontal. Much more likely they will do it.

Its also a timing issue, the key to learning the skill correctly is generally the timing. If the arms swing too early or too late, the skill will not work as effectively. They need to swing their arms backwards and jump backwards then swing arms to ears. Its easier and more effective to nail this timing with arms starting at horizontal.

Starting arms up, just often means the kids throw themselves up, so how we would start a standing back tuck, again to do with how far they have to swing their arms. Starting at horizontal tends to help them go long.

each coach will have a differently philosophy though, so other coaches may insist on a different technique from their gymnast.

But so, so often I have seen kids come in (after having taught themselves and BHS), and its high and short. The only thing we have to do is pop the arms at horizontal and all of a sudden it works.

The only thing we find we have to be wary of is that some kids will start with their arms at horizontal then lift them up slightly before swinging them backwards, adding a split second to the timing and throwing it off. We pop a pool noodle or something over their arms so they dont lift them.
 

JBS

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If we are not teaching with a full arm swing... then we are doing drills to try to simulate how the arms react out of other tumbling skills like a roundoff... another BHS... or a whip. Like this video starting around 3 minutes...

 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Jan 21, 2007
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Baltimore, MD
This seems like a straightforward question, but it doesn't have a straightforward answer.

I'm going to assume we're talking about a backhandspring on floor, and that your goal is to do it in connection, not in isolation. And I think backhandsprings make the most sense when you think of them first in terms of the mechanical goal of the skill, which is to accelerate backwards as much as possible.

In order to accelerate backwards, you want to exert as much force on takeoff as possible. For that, you want your entire body to be contributing everything it can, including lower body, midsection, and upper body and arms. In order to do that, your legs should bend, your midsection should sit way back behind your feet (you feel like you're about to fall on your butt just before you take off), and your arms should be in front of you and perhaps angled slightly downward; from there, everything extends at once to generate the acceleration and rotation for the backhandspring. All of this is true whether you're doing to backhandspring in isolation or in a connection. (Somewhat different on beam, but I assume we're focusing on floor here).

So to answer your question about the arms, they should be extended in front of you (horizontal or a little bit below) and then they should swing upwards towards the ears as you take off.
Having said that -- there's room for debate over whether you should start with the arms held in that position, or swing them through that position. I generally teach the former just to keep things as simple and minimal as possible, but I don't hate the latter.

There is some nuance I'm glossing over here. I like arms starting in front specifically because I assume the goal is to do it from a roundoff -- if you're only looking to do it from a stand, an arm swing will probably get you there faster. And if you're doing it to a stepout, or if you're doing it on beam, or if you are for whatever niche reason trying to make your backhandspring very short, the ideal technique changes.
 

melissaallen59425

New Member
Mar 1, 2022
41
39
This seems like a straightforward question, but it doesn't have a straightforward answer.

I'm going to assume we're talking about a backhandspring on floor, and that your goal is to do it in connection, not in isolation. And I think backhandsprings make the most sense when you think of them first in terms of the mechanical goal of the skill, which is to accelerate backwards as much as possible.

In order to accelerate backwards, you want to exert as much force on takeoff as possible. For that, you want your entire body to be contributing everything it can, including lower body, midsection, and upper body and arms. In order to do that, your legs should bend, your midsection should sit way back behind your feet (you feel like you're about to fall on your butt just before you take off), and your arms should be in front of you and perhaps angled slightly downward; from there, everything extends at once to generate the acceleration and rotation for the backhandspring. All of this is true whether you're doing to backhandspring in isolation or in a connection. (Somewhat different on beam, but I assume we're focusing on floor here).

So to answer your question about the arms, they should be extended in front of you (horizontal or a little bit below) and then they should swing upwards towards the ears as you take off.
Having said that -- there's room for debate over whether you should start with the arms held in that position, or swing them through that position. I generally teach the former just to keep things as simple and minimal as possible, but I don't hate the latter.

There is some nuance I'm glossing over here. I like arms starting in front specifically because I assume the goal is to do it from a roundoff -- if you're only looking to do it from a stand, an arm swing will probably get you there faster. And if you're doing it to a stepout, or if you're doing it on beam, or if you are for whatever niche reason trying to make your backhandspring very short, the ideal technique changes.
hi @Geoffrey Taucer thanks ! I will take your opinion. just fyi, i cruised through 20+ back handspring videos on Youtube, majority is arms starting vertical for some reason, especially among women (feel free to check) . However interesting to get different styles, and I think you are right, arms horizontal with less arm swing is easier to teach with beginners

ps, my question was referring to floor routine, with back handspring in isolation training, without connection, etc

appreciate it
 
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