For Coaches Giant progressions

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

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


May 4, 2009
What are the progressions you use in teaching giants? I mean from the very beginning of shape change (on and off the bar) onwards. I am thinking mainly for girls as the technique seems to be different to boys because they don't have to worry about the low bar - correct me if i'm wrong.

Any especially useful drills? Do you spot? Do you teach initially with a held handstand in between each giant, or round-and-round-and-round (hope that makes sense)?
Sep 21, 2008
There are a few things that are basic requirments (for me) before doing giants. (This assumes they have a 3/4 giant on their own, good or bad)

1) A good tap swing.

2) A back extension roll to handstand (preferrably with straight arms)

3) Candlestick

4) Body Shaping/Handstand (for hollow)

After the tap swing motion is established, start with back extension rolls. If they can get to handstands, get yourself a floor bar and a wedge mat, a floor bar and an 8" mat, and a spotter.

station 1: Cast to handstand. Start in a push-up position on the bar. Dip hips to bar, and "pop" into a straddle cast, to handstand. Fall hollow onto the 8" mat. Make sure their shoulders stay in front of the bar until the handstand. Make sure their body hits the mat solid in 1 piece, not chest first, not toes first. If you would like, you can build the "straddle" in for taller girls, or you can have them hold a slight pike to avoid clipping the bar, but they may end up landing on their toes at this point and can hurt more than the bar. Preferrably, if they need to get away from the bar, learn this phase with a straddle.

station 2: With a spotter, lay on back with shoulders at the point the wedge mat meets the floor. Hands should be on a floor bar, extended above as if swinging. Have the girls focus on doing a "piked" back extension roll to handstand, keeping their head neutral until they feel pressure on their hands. This will help them learn to shift properly, and keep a nice hollow, tight body line. They will need a lot of spot (generally) at first, but over time the girls could (possibly should) be able to do this drill on their own. When they feel comfortable with this, and you are satisfied with their progress, move to the next part.

Part 2:

The low bar:

Many coaches will not use this. I do this because I teach an accelerated program due to time restraints in a highschool. It does emphasize poor technique at one point, however, it builds confidence. You can feel free to skip any portion of this, and I will try to explain my logic for each section.

Step 1: Sole circle to stand up. This will teach them how to shift properly, and get them used to going in a circle motion.

Step 2: Many sole circles in a row at varying speeds. The faster the better.

Step 3: Get 2 spotting blocks and place them and build a "channel" behind the low bar. Use this to give them comfort in attempting to cast to handstand, or cast as high as they can. From here, they can work on bail to low bar giant. They will have to bend their legs (hence, the bad form/technique). I like this part because it emphasizes casting to handstand on a bar from a support, and it builds into giants by themselves. Of course, I hand spot this, using the upper arm and hips for the cast, and the wrist/hips for the giant motion. In between turns, work candle-sticks holding onto something solid, like the leg of a beam, or a pommel horse leg. Whatever vertical object that is available.

You will generally get a lot of people tapping early at this point. If you are not worried about them peeling off, you can focus on getting a little above the bar (using a spotting block of your own, or some stacked mats), and spot from their hips with both hands carrying them over. If they are going short, they can pirouette out, if they go over - tada! Giant. Even if they are slightly hollow over the top, if they clear circle it, they have made it over successfully! They just need to learn to open the shoulders at this point. This low bar work really builds comfort with the circling skill, and going upside down, and makes things a lot easier for the spotter since they are not so high up, and there is less potential for gymnast injury.

Part 3: Straps

At this point, gymasts can usually head over the the strap bar for high bar work. They may still want a hand spot (from their wrist and hips), and this is ok. However, I would encourage them to swing on their own and feel out the skill. Re-emphasize straddling or piking for the low bar here as well.

As conditioning, I do a LOT of handstands on a floor bar, as well as pirouettes on the bar, both to handstands and to bails, as well as to their feet. The more they can unerstand how to get out of danger, the better off they will be when they get into a position they are not used to. Further, it will help with hand work later on when they need to start working on it.

That's my progression. I have done it as fast as 1-2 days (a 2 hour session, having already learned a good tap swing), and as long as a month (or longer, if they dont have a tap swing). Generally, they get to the point of hand-spotted giants quickly, but have a rough time moving to the independent work on straps. Give it time, and be patient, and they will get it.

Good luck! I would love to read some other people's suggestions too...
  • Like
Reactions: 3Q3Q

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I really only use one skill to progress towards giants: tap swings.

First they do tap swings on a regular bar, and I'll stop them at various points to make sure they have the proper positions.

Then I'll put them on strap bar and just challenge them to swing as high as they can without breaking form.

Eventually, their tap swings will get high enough to go right overtop on the strap bar.

Though I do spot giants on strap bar occasionally, I more often just let them learn them completely on their own as their tap swings get bigger.

Once they can comfortably do giants from a tap swing on strap bar, I then allow them to try starting from a cast. Again, I don't generaly spot this; if they make it overtop, they make it overtop, and if they don't they just swing back down.

Once this is strong and consistant, then I start working the giants on the regular bar, and this is where I go back to spotting them.


As the others have stated, a good tap swing is extremely important.

The progression, or similar, that I would typically like to see would be a combination of the two listed above; including the following drills.

1. Handstand falls to belly on a floor bar.
2. Cast handstands and cast handstands that go over the bar.
3. Tap swing to giant on strap bar and regular bar with spot--working towards doing them alone. These do not have to be to handstand.
4. Giants from cast on strap bar without spot.
5. Giants from cast on bars with spot--does not need to focus on handstand at first.


The ability to properly swing BIG is more of how good your tap is and how strong you are besides your grasp of the proper positions to tap.

good strength drills are body levers ( candlestick/shoulder stand holding the base of a beam ) YouTube - - Body Levers

Pullup on a bar to cradle/candlestick ( inverted/upside down ) is good. Pullup pullovers develop this somewhat.

And obviously, you need to able to cast to HS to about 30-45 degrees above horizontal with legs together. If you're effecient with the pushaway/bail action that's all you need if the tap is good. That's also about equal to a cast straddle up to HS.


May 4, 2009
Thanks everyone! I have seen a lot of giants in strap bar on youtube where 20+ giants are done without stopping. It seems to me that this is usually uncontrolletd by the gymnast and the gymnast is unlikely to maintain the proper shaping and technique in the kick if they are doing many giants like this. Does anyone use this? Can you tell me why it is used? I have never actually seen it taught like this so I may be missing some important point!
Sep 19, 2008
As far as giants on straps goes - when I first them I did about 5 and they were really out of control. Now when I do them on straps I only ever do two - my casts aren't the greatest but on the upside it really makes me work my tap, even on straps. So actually, on straps at least, it's a good thing to do them from a mediocre cast - at least that's what i felt. Feels much more effective that clear hip handstand - which is what I do, if I want to start a giant from Handstand...... (anyone else out there who gets their clear hips higher than their casts? may be because I'm quite tall, though)

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Any kid can get chucked over the bar in the straps, and there's not much benefit to them in most cases other than helping a kid get over the initial fear of giants. I might spot a kid a few times on strap bar so they can get used to the feel of the skill, but after that, they're on their own.

This is why I make my kids learn it from a tap swing, rather than from a cast. They HAVE to learn to tap properly in order for the giant to happen. If they don't have a solid grasp of tap swings, they can't do the giant.

At my gym, we don't have a strap bar that's always set up -- we have a switchable pit bar, and we put in the men's rail with the pipe every week for friday and saturday workouts. So every week, every team member gets a chance to work tap swings on the strap bar. With the boys, all I do is tell them to work tap swings. If their tap swings get so big they go overtop, I have no objections. And that's exactly what I tell my boys.
Last edited:
Sep 13, 2007
way out West
Strap bar: I'm not a big fan...but it works for some kids. I never allow the kids to cast on strap bar, and they get three tapswings to make it over, or they forfeit their turn. If they make it, I have them do about 10 giants.

I'm a big believer in 3/4 giants as a progression. It takes a while longer, but the girls usually do much better giants in the end (as opposed to heavy hand spotted "tucked" giants on low bar or archy giants to handstand).

I pretty much teach a clear hip handstand and giant to handstand the same way-build up the cast, build up the support at the end of the circle to match. The problem is seldom the handstand-it's the transition from the handstand to the hang and again from the hang to the handstand. So many coaches focus on the handstand to the point where the mechanics and follow-through of the swing are non-existent. The kids are usually also scared, with good reason.

I figure if I have to push a kid over the bar in a handstand, I'm actually training her to fight me while I push her somewhere she doesn't want to go. It's pointless and time-consuming.


Feb 22, 2007
That's Enrique Trabanino from Cincinnati Gymnastics. He knows what he's doing and understands progressions and technique. Definitely worth watching. He's got a website up as well with some DVD's for sale it seems...

ET Gymnastics Coaching
Not open for further replies.

New Posts