WAG Round off vs twisting direction

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Proud Parent
Aug 19, 2021
Hello All - I have read all the other threads on this topic - it has been discussed a lot but no consensus I think. Wanted to get some input from people who have faced this situation and how they resolved it ?
DS has right round off and left twisting. He has done 2 years comp gymnastics and 2 years of comp T&T so he does have quite a few twisting skills already e.g. full, barani ball out, full turn etc. (there are more, can't think of them now).
He says he used to twist right during rec classes, and it was difficult learning one of the skills, and coach asked him to try left and that was much easier, so he started twisting left consistently.
Artistic coach noticed this during team workouts, but did not ask to change anything.
Now we are moving to new gym, and the artistic coach there says he has to change his twisting direction in preparation for the difficult vault moves. I think we understand why, but afraid that it is too late. Given what DS said, it seems he might be more comfortable left twisting, and forcing right might make him not do the skills so well. And it seems it is too late for changing round off direction.
Anyone faced this situation and were able to change either round off or twist direction little late in the game ? (he is 10 years old)
Anyone who has different side round off and twist but managing fine that way, would love to hear from them as well.
Thanks a lot!
Novels worth of information can and have been written on this subject, and you are correct that there doesn't seem to be a solid consensus. I can only give my opinion, based on experience as a former elite floor and vault specialist and a coach of both Artistic and T&T.

The short version:
If he twists a different way going forward and backward, that's a separate issue that does need to be addressed.
However, a roundoff is its own separate category, and doesn't necessarily need to match the athlete's twisting direction. Having a left-hand roundoff and a left-twist (or vice-versa) does have advantages for one specific vault family (tsuk/kaz-type vaults), but otherwise makes no real difference in MAG. In my opinion, it's not worth the trouble of trying to change an athlete's twisting direction to match their roundoff; however, if they twist opposite directions on their forward and backward saltos, then it IS worth addressing (and generally easier to change the front twisting direction than the back twisting direction).

The long version:
(Disclaimer for this first section: I know absolutely nothing about the underlying neurology here, and am just repeating what I've heard from people who know this stuff better than I do)
Being right- or left-handed in tumbling is probably like being right- or left-handed in other things: it's innately programmed into the athlete's brain to be more comfortable one way than the other. Now, there are definitely athletes that are equally comfortable both ways, just as there are people who can comfortably write with either hand, but it's not the norm.
The same is probably true of twist direction. Most athletes will naturally be more comfortable twisting one way than the other. Some can twist both ways, and it is definitely possible to learn to twist in the "unnatural" direction, but most athletes will have an innate preference that's not worth trying to override.
The preferred tumbling and and the preferred twisting direction are only loosely-correlated. I don't have the study onhand, but I seem to remember reading an article about a study that found that roughly 70% of elite athletes who twist left also roundoff left, and vice-versa.

So how does this affect skill development? Well, it gets a bit complicated here.
A roundoff that leads with the right hand doesn't actually twist right; it twists left. However, this reversal of direction actually makes some skills easier, particularly in Tsuk/Kaz type vaults. I won't dig into the technical specifics, but the only-slightly-oversimplified version is that an athlete who does a left roundoff and left twist (or vice-versa) only has to do a 3/4 twist to land a "tsuk 1/1", whereas an athlete who does a left roundoff and right twist (or vice-versa) has to do a 1 1/4 twist in order to perform the "same" vault. So with regards to that one specific family of skills, having a mismatch between the roundoff and the twist direction makes things harder.

However, in my opinion it's not worth trying to change an athlete's twisting direction or roundoff direction. It's a lot of extra work for only minimal reward, since it only really effects one category of skills. An athlete who has such a mismatch can just focus on handspring- and yurchenko-type vaults, and render the whole issue moot. Which, yeah, it's unfortunate to not have access to some comparatively-easy value on vault, but it's not worth the trouble of making the athlete un-learn their innate twisting direction.

(I also suspect -- though I have absolutely no data to back this up -- that training an athlete in their unnatural twisting direction could make them more susceptible to the twisties).

Having said all that, if the issue is that your DS is twisting one direction in forward saltos and the other direction in backward saltos, that's a completely different issue, and in that case I absolutely would take the time to change his front twisting direction so they will match. For any multi-salto skills that twist (yurchenko 1/1, full-twisting double flyaway, etc), it is absolutely crucial that forward and backward twisting directions match.
Thank you so much for the detailed and easy to understand reply!! This forum is awesome. I had the exact same concern that making him learn the un-natural twist direction would create additional problems for other skills. (since DS did say that right twist was initially also more difficult for him, which is why he started doing left twist in the first place)

I was thinking it might be worth to try the other round off direction (I'm not sure if this is natural preference, or just learned based on what everyone else was doing), but coach discouraged that. Coach says they want to try to change him to right twist which will take about 4 weeks, and at around the 2 week mark they will know whether it is feasible or not - if it is not feasible then they will leave him alone (Of course DS would prefer not to go through that :) )

I don't think we have the issue of twisting in one direction for forward and backward - I will ask him more details once he is back from school.
So I know very little about twisting, but I have learned that a left leg roundoff actually twist to the right. This confused me a lot when I first learned this, but in this instance to me being a lefty and twisting right makes since. again I know very little about twisting so I may be completely wrong here but something to think or ask others about.
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