For Coaches BHS arms in support phase

Parents... Coaches... Judges... Gymnasts...
DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members See FEWER Ads!
Join for FREE!
Not open for further replies.

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Alright, so let's talk high-level backhandsprings.

More and more coaches seem to be coming around to the viewpoint that arms vertical and straight to "block" is suboptimal for high level backhandsprings, because it does not allow the center of mass to pass far enough over the hands before pushing off. I can think of three solutions to this, all three of which I've seen used to great effect (and, of course, combinations are possible).

1) Arms wide. This slightly delays the block, while allowing the center of mass to remain lower. This is fairly common in MAG and extremely common in power-tumbling, but very rare in WAG at the high levels. To me, this seems like the least efficient of the options, because it doesn't really give an efficient way to push off the floor with the arms, other than by blocking normally -- which tends to mean pushing too early. It would also, if trained at the low levels, present a risk of hyperextending the elbows. However, I'm hesitant to completely write this one off, because of how common it is in power tumbling; if there's any sport that hinges on optimization of backhandsprings it's power tumbling, and the fact that power tumblers use this technique so commonly makes me think there might be some advantage that hasn't occurred to me.

2) Arms angled back, chest pushed hard open, late snapdown. This is how Simone does her backhandsprings; watch from the side, and you can see that her arms are about 40 degrees off vertical for the entire support phase. This causes the block and snap to occur at a lower angle than they otherwise wood, which means greater acceleration of the CoM in the second half of the BHS. It's hard to argue with the results that Simone gets with this technique.

3) Arms bent. This allows for a delayed push off with the center of mass lower. This is the way I've usually coached backhandsprings. The elbows are protected, the block is delayed while the center of mass passes over, and the triceps can contribute to the push-off rather than relying only on the shoulders and core. To me, this seems like the most efficient approach, and the easiest to safely train.

What say you all?
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: raenndrops
Love all of it. It all depends on the athlete. High level athletes are high level due to talent... give them the solution that works best for them.

I would go with #4 on your list. We have moved to teaching all of our gymnasts whips as soon as possible on a trampoline. No need to worry about blocking at the wrong time or the wrong way. This allows them to feel exactly what you are talking about. The true power of physics.

Now that they have felt the power of physics the athlete and the coach can select one of the ways that you described. The one that is best for them.
  • Like
Reactions: raenndrops
Here is how we teach tumbling to our beginners now (watch all the videos in the playlist)...

EDIT: She is obviously not a beginner
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Geoffrey Taucer
If you watch all of the above videos in the playlist... you'll see that there are no limits when you start using this method. Here is the base order that we teach things (which is a little different than most clubs)...

#1 - Roundoff flyback & back handspring back handspring flyback spotted down a long hill. These two things are taught at the same time... but not in series (NOT run run run RO-BHS)
#2 - Bouncing back handspring like in the first video above
#3 - Once they can do #1 & #2 then we are satisfied that they can tumble out of a roundoff. We are also satisfied that they can do a tumbling back handspring (not just a standing back handspring). Then we just say... "Go ahead and do your RO-BHS". Magically... they can all do it.
  • Love
Reactions: Geoffrey Taucer
So to summarize the method above... we take the roundoff out of the equation because it's hard. We do things at full speed in an easier environment (downhill or on a trampoline).

RO-BHS is NOT the first back tumbling series they learn at our club... BHS-BHS is. Crashes always happen when learning... but they are minimized when you spot a kid down a hill and a crash on trampoline is much softer than this...

  • Like
Reactions: Geoffrey Taucer
Agreed on all of that! Especially with regards to delaying the RO-BHS connection. I really think that gets rushed so much.

I don't have a video walkthrough of the full progression, but here's how I like to do it (with a and b parts developed in parallel, all roundoff development done on the floor and all BHS development done on a tumbletrak):

1a) Cartwheel step-ins from knee lunge, land in exaggerated roundoff landing shape (chest in, head down to reinforce the hollow, feet scooped under), backward roll.
1b) Standing BHS to stick with no rebound, starting and finishing in that same exaggerated roundoff landing shape.

2a) Roundoff from knee lunge, stick with no rebound
2b) Standing BHS to stick with no rebound, STOP, standing BHS. The idea is that the stop can be as long as they want, but they cannot swing their arms or move their feet while stopped

3) Repeat 2b until the STOP in the middle magically disappears. Because it will. Without spotting, without even having to tell them to connect, the pause in the middle will disappear, and you'll be left with two connected backhandsprings, and the transition between them will still have that distinctive sit-back that makes the second one stretch out nice and long.

4a) RO-BHS from knee lunge and/or fall-step
4b) Standing 3BHS

5a) RO-BHS from a light jog, not an aggressive run (imo, they shouldn't be sprinting into their tumbling until they're flipping at the end)
5b) Standing 3BHS
  • Like
Reactions: JBS
Not open for further replies.