For Coaches Fixing hand position in BHS

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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
One of my girls who has been doing backhandsprings for awhile (like, at least three years -- she's got her tuck and her layout -- though the layout could use some work) always does them with her hands turned out. I'm trying to teach her to tumble with her hands turned in, but having difficulties. Does anybody have any good drills for this?

What I'm planning on doing when I get a chance is just having her work multiple consecutive backhandsprings, and making her do those with her hands turned in before she works any other skills. Anybody else have other ideas for how to fix this?
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Does she just tumble with her hands out (habit)?...or does she have flexibility issues?
When I have a student who turns their hands out, we start to focus on hand position in all floor skills. Starting with handstands, we don't have our kids turn them all the way in, we use the diamond position. We make them do all handstands, back walkovers and standing bhs with hands in diamonds. Having them put chalk on their hands so she can see what position you are trying to achieve in her tumbling as well. Check her position in the round off as well.
Check her handstands and anything on her hands; it might be an idiosyncrasy (habit/mannerism that she does on similar tricks). If that's the case--have her concentrate on fixing her hand placement in the handstand and all other things that pass through handstand.

Also, how flexible are her wrists--if she's got bad wrists she might not be able to flex her hand back far enough into the correct position. After my reconstructive surgery on my wrist, my wrist doesn't flex back more than 20-30 degrees which makes it hard to do gymnastics. If i was wearing a wrist guard I could force my hand back to where it needed to go.

Maybe try working on some wrist strength & flexibility while also concentrating on the hand placement.
the use of chalk on the hands so the gymnast can see the hand placement is good, i also use the cheater straps for standing bhs, hold the strap with both wrists and this will force the hands to the proper position (sometimes)

how does she place her hands on her handstand rolls and back extensions, i teach both of these skills with the arms straight and the hands turned in toward each other, if these are emphasized it may help with the bhs
If she can't keep her hands straight/slightly in while walking the length of floor in handstand, then working on that will probably help. In my experience the hand turn out is more likely to show there with a fairly advanced gymnast than in the stationary HS.
I had a kid who started turning her hands out when she started training yurtchenkos. She has average flexibility in her shoulders and wrists, but her elbows naturally rotate outwards and she was trying so hard to keep her arms straight (a correction her previous coach gave her over and over) that she started rotating her fingers out to make sure her arms appeared straight. Turns out she broke one of her elbows coming in short on a vault.

We had to reteach her to turn her hands in and try not to lock her elbows the way she used to. No fancy drills or chalk on the hands or anything. She just had a limited amount of space in which to put her hands, and that's all she got. She had no choice but to turn her hands in or she would miss the surface with her hands. It translated pretty easily from vault to floor, and she has gotten much better at it. Granted...her arms are slightly bent on a backhandspring, but she doesn't have elbow trouble and her hands are turned it. It's the lesser of two evils...and besides, back in the day, everyone tumbled like that...including guys who did triple backs.
When I see it happen I usually ask the kids if they like their elbows. They say yes, and I let them know that they can easily dislocate or break their elbows if they keep their hands out.
Try re-teaching the skill, breaking it down all the way as though she's just learning, very slow motion. We did that with one of our L5's for her round-off. Took a while buy now she has correct hand position. She did kneeling and standing r-o's, each time placing her hands correctly on the floor. Hope that helps!
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