bars help

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I'm wondering if anyone has any great hints/advice on front hip circles and mill circles. DD has been working for MONTHS on these and is getting frustrated. She just can't seem to make it all the way back up. With only an extremely small spot, she's fine, but on her own she misses. She's supposed to start competing in Feb. She's only 6 but is very strong and until now, bars were her best event. If she can just conquer this, she'll have a beautiful routine. Any help would be much appreciated!


Active Member
Aug 27, 2006
I wonder if she doesnt use all the speed she needs to get around the bar quick enough without the small spot for her mill circle. It seems like when the girls start getting it on their own they tend to go too much and have to slam on the brakes to keep from going around again until they figure out how much speed and momentum they need.It took my dd along time to get these. For the front hip circle the coaches used to tell my dd to keep her chin up and pretend you're scraping it all the way around the bar.That probably doesnt help much but it'll click soon.

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I'd have to see her do these skills to say for sure, but the most common problems on a mill circle are not getting enough extension at the beginning, not getting a sufficient "tap" going under the bottom, and letting the bar come away from the back leg.

The gymnast should start with her chest up, pushing the bar against the thigh of her back leg, reaching the front leg as far forward as possible. As they swing under the bottom, they should tap by aggressively bringing the front leg closer to the back leg; I tell my girls to pretend their legs are scissors and try to cut the bar in half. From here, all they need to do is kep the bar against the back leg, and they should make it fairly easily. The bar should be pushed against the thigh of the back leg through the entire skill.


Never fear--I could never do a front mill circle, but I could do a glide kip (which from what I've told a mill circle is a drill for a kip because of the rocking up motion at the end). Here are the key phrases that I give my girls for each skill:

Front Hip:
Bar close to knees, look up at the high bar, keep looking for the high bar until you can't see it, when you can't see it pike and pull yourself back over the bar.

Mill Circle:
push up tall, big step forward, hands on top quick.

Don't give up--it'll eventually click and she'll be just fine! Good luck!


Jan 8, 2006
Ahwahnee, CA
I hate that mill circle. I always wondered what it was supposed to help progress them to. It reminds me of what we used to do on the playground in elementary school. Only we wadded up our sweaters and locked out hands around our shins...

gym law mom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
What helped my daughter get her front hip circle was to remember to have her mid thighs against the bar and then as others have said hold the chin up and go. The coach used to get chalk and draw a line on their legs indicating where they needed to be against the low bar.


Mill circles are also called stride circles. So your daughter should think of it as a big stride, or step forward. As a coach, those two skills are my absolute least favorite to teach because they are difficult in such a strange way.

gym mom

Active Member
Sep 8, 2007
My DD is 7 level 3 and she had a tough time with the mill circle it toke about 2months .She was scared of them ,she would tuck her head in and curve her back once she learned to keep her head up and her back straight she got it.her first meet in sept she got a 7.0 on bars fell on mill circle and leg cut her 2nd qualifier on oct 21 she got a 8.6 we are looking for a 9.2 next month .Practice,practice,practice she will get it.


Coach/Proud Parent
May 14, 2007
[rookie coach disclaimer here]

As others have mentioned, leading/extending with the foot is key to getting the weight forward - building the momentum from the start with a 'larger' circle. I like to extend my open hand just beyond their reach of that lead foot...telling them to 'give me five' with their foot. A little fun thing for them to try to do, along with a simple reminder to keep their chin up, seems to keep them from shortening the circle by leading with the head moving down.


Proud Parent
Aug 14, 2007
Port Angeles, WA

Thanks for the advice on teaching these bars skills! I coach level 4's, and although the other events are going well, bars is a thorn!
I am looking forward to trying some of the new ideas!


Just wanted to thank everyone for the advice. I read the posts with DD and she has been trying to implement some ideas. She's 95% there. I think now it's almost a mental thing. The coach is just barely touching her back and she makes it. You can hardly call it a spot. But as soon as coach backs away down she goes. I think it's more frustrating to me than her! We both really appreciate your help though. Hopefully soon I can post that she's got them!


front hip circle

I used to have a hard time getting my level 4's to do a front hip circle. I believe alot of girls dont get the timing of when to pike around the bar or not piking enough. I started teaching the girls to tuck around the bar and it did not take them that long. Once they were able to tuck around the bar it didnt take them long to get the circle with straight legs.


Oct 6, 2007
Pittsburgh, PA
I had a nasty time getting the front hip. It just takes time and patience. Here's a tip for her though: at the very beginning of the skill, pull your chest up really high. We called it the "super girl" position. It always helped me out a ton! PS... piking is bad. ;)


OK.. so well, for me those two skills came easy for me, but the rest didn't.

For me what helps is the keep my chest up and drive my heels over my head.
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