Desperate help with mill circle

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Proud Parent
Oct 26, 2007
Hi, my sister sent me a short clip of her daughter doing her mill circle in hopes that I might see what the difference in my dd's mill circle and my niece's. I have no idea the only thing I see is that is different is her hooked leg. Here is some video of my niece doing her mill circle. What is she doing wrong and how can she fix it? She needs to fix this in the next two weeks because she has her first L3 competion in 2 weeks and her gym won't let girls compete if they need a spot.

YouTube - niece mill circle


Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
First of all let me tell you how much I feel your pain and that this skill is often difficult for the girls. It took my DD about 5 or 6 months to get. Another girl in her group just got it last week after about 11 months of trying. It can be VERY frustrating.

It looks to me like she is not "opening" her chest. Her chest is coming down too far to the leg on top of the bar. Her shoulders should be pushed back (like military at attention) through the whole circle. She needs to push up as high as she can off the bar so that the bar is resting on that back leg mid-thigh if possible. Then when she is getting ready to go over she needs to look straight ahead and up and out (they need to be looking at the high bar when the start to circle around - we tell them to try to get the high bar with their toes on the top foot). The arms also need to stay straight the whole time around. Once they bend it kills the rotation.

The hooking of the top leg (bending it when she comes to the top of the bar) also kills the rotation. My DD did this for 5 - 6 months - aarrgg. That leg needs to stay straight. As soon as they bend that leg the rotation stops and they fall back. She will likely fall forward over the bar the first few times she makes it around, that is ok, it will help her get the feel.

I have only recently started coaching, most of the is from the experience of watching my DD struggle with it and constant pestering the coaches - what is she doing wrong?

It would probably be better to post this in the coaches forum. You will likely get more and better answers there. Also, I have posted a couple of threads in the coaches forum asking for help on this for DD and her friend, you could search it as well. But I would repost there along w/ video.


Yes, she does really need to squeeze that front leg to keep it tight.

Another thing: these are called stride circles in some gyms. Stride-like a large step. She needs to be 'taking' a bigger step forward and that will help her get around the bar.


She needs to keep her chest up tall, front leg straight, and shift her wrists faster (bring her hands back up on top of the bar). I like to give me girls a few comments to remind them of how to do the skill: straight front leg (i usually remind them of this when they're on the bar), push up tall, big step forward, and hands on top quick.
Sep 19, 2008
Please don't take this the wrong way because truly I don't mean to sound rude; but the bar moving so much is a real potential hazard! She may be hooking over the bar in a protective tuck response to it hitching as she goes around. Thats also the kind of response that turns into a learned behavior that her coach will have to work through even though the bar at the gym is perfectly safe.

I'll share a drill I use at the gym, but please don't try it at home before speaking to her coach! Even if the bar is secure, the floor and the mats at the gym make it the safest place to drill or do skills with an apparatus. If the drill sounds good to you, I'd recommend asking the gymnasts coach if she could try it at the gym. If all goes well and you have the mats for it at home, then I still would ask her coach if it's ok to try at home before proceeding.

The drill I use in the gym is this: take a preschool bar, lower it so the gymnasts bottom leg is just off the mat, or ball of the foot on the mat.

Position the bar facing a wall, and have the gymnast cut a leg over the top as if about to do the mill circle. Have them press up and then try to 'reach' for the wall with the top leg. I usually place the bar in a way that allows them to get their foot against the wall (with a straight leg only) so they feel stable in the full stride position.

Their chest should be up, shoulders down, and they should feel the bar pressing slightly on the mid thigh of their bottom leg as they reach. I have them do the drill until they know the feel of the correct amount of pressure on their bottom leg, which they can use as a signal that their stride is good and they're ready to commence the skill.

Doing that has helped some slightly more wary gymnasts who were nervous with the chest up, open stride position right before committing to a very fast skill. It has a very free-fall feeling to it that takes some getting used to with some gymnasts.

(to be very clear about the drill, I always start it so that the gymnasts bottom foot is in contact with the mat, and the top foot can reach the wall. Only with straight legs of course. As they get more comfortable in their stride, I gradually raise the bar so that the bottom foot eventually comes off the mat entirely. After that I back the bar away from the wall, but at that point I still stand there to spot if needed. I do this drill ideally before they've ever attempted the full skill.)
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