For Coaches I hate hollow casts

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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Or rather, I hate having to teach them.

It's so counterproductive to teach a cast in a hollow shape to beginners! If you want an easy cast handstand, stick your head out and drive your heels, and it will go right up. Granted, this should be a tight arch, not a loose one, but an arch nonetheless. It would make much more sense to me not to require any hollow position on any cast below a handstand.

The way I would prefer to teach it (and the way I DO teach it to my boys) is a tight arch. I don't even bother trying to get them to hollow until they are either casting away to a tap swing or hitting handstand.

Watching elite gymnast, I have found very very few on either the men's or women's side who do their casts in a hollow position. They all drive their heels up in a tight arch and then hollow at the top.

So why do USAG women's compulsories insist on a hollow position in a cast at level 4?


Sorry, this just really annoys me.


Nov 12, 2007
You know what, i dont teach hollow at ALL!, i teach straight. haha. I dont care at what height i want straight. However you are right that all this emphasis on hollow is BAD, if we notice the trends, most western countries who do teach this, have gymnasts that can't cast straight to HS, or who can but baddly so they don't. WHY? well cause with a hollow cast you get to horizontal and you are done. So what happens they straddle to HS, because a cast to horizontal is all you need to be able to learn a straddle cast to HS.. I am 100% sure about this trend that has resulted (even though i have no empiracle evidence).

Look at the chinease.. i dont see hollow, and actually from having watching Chinease meets, hollow is not the requirement. And they all cast to straight to HS (granted they are smaller in stature).
FOr me it had to learn swing to HS on PB, learn a planche (straddle) to be able to do a straight body cast (granted i had never worked them before that).

I think you are right to not teach your gymnast to hollow. Long term for their skill development its the best option. For winning routines its not.. Its a catch 22 at those levels. However like i the Cast to HS article i wrote the key emphasis is that tight arch at the start..if the cast kick is strong and the turn over is fast, you will hardly ever see that arch without slo mo.

The only person i know that cast hollow to HS is Nastia.. however she uses a modified technique...which is actually like a cast pike to HS, but over time you can see that she has straightend it out. However the way she is casting you can see that she go into either a straddle or straight.. She uses a interesting technique.. that i think works well and will catch on.
Sep 19, 2008
Or rather, I hate having to teach them.

I do too, and don't bother to use the term 'hollow' on bars. When a kid ready to do horizontal casts I usually spot them one hand on the tummy and the other at the ankles. Eventually I only use the ankles as they get tight enough to make it possible. Whether it's hollow or not is something I ignore unless it's a competitive L4. As they progress if there was tons of emphasis on the hollow then it's painful watching them work out that hip angle slight pike looking hs.

So why do USAG women's compulsories insist on a hollow position in a cast at level 4?

Why....well I'll take a shot at this though it's just personal speculation. There's lots of hollow body shapes in their skills. For bars specifically if they cast to an arch and then don't hollow it out fast enough, they'll fall away from the bar when doing their back hip circle. From that perspective it seems a lot easier to teach a more experienced gymnast to cast to hs without a hip angle than to teach a rec kid or new L4 to get hollow fast enough for that connection.

Handspring on vault and bhs on floor are the other 2 notable hollows in their routine. As annoying as hollow is for bar progression, it's a total killer to be arched at L4 vault! Seeing a girl get her feet forward on the board and punch hollow just to arch so she can grab for the mat and fall heels first is a killer.

I think it's helpful to teach hollow and a tight arch concurrently. I love hollow body rocks where the kids turn over and do supermans (same thing, just arched). Usually I have rec do 10 hollow, turn over, 10 supermans. I like to introduce those early in the hope that whatever I get, it will at least be tight!


Jul 5, 2007
I teach them to drive their heels and then push through the space in their shoulder blades at the top. Cast handstand is another story and I don't want to see a hollow right off the bar, but honestly if they aren't hitting at least straight at the top I definitely do not like the BHC and free hips I see. I teach them to push through that upper back area and drop to a "candlestick" on the other side. As far as I know the USAG program doesn't really care if they drive their heels as long as they aren't belly down at the top of the cast going into the next skill, which quite frankly I agree with. An appropriate tight arch doesn't look like a "deduction arch" to me. 90% of the arch I see in L4/5 bars is from a lack of core conditioning, not appropriate technique. I would rather see a hollow to some extent at these levels anyway because it would at least indicate an engaged core to me, but since I work a lot on casting for height, they pretty much have to drive their heels in a tight arch at some point. If you teach a lot of beginning classes, you will definitely see the difference between a small hollow cast and an egregious small cast that is not hollow, and in L1-4 most likely I am preferring the small hollow cast for all intents and purposes.
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