For Coaches Specific uses for ankle weights on uneven bars.

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Jan 1, 2014
Michigan, Region 5
So, I've been mulling around the idea of using ankle weights on bars in a select few scenarios. I wanted to see what you guys have all personally had experience with.

So, the first scenario would be to aid gymnasts training cast handstands with the legs together technique. I was thinking it could possibly be an effective technique for creating some extra resistance in the unloading phase of the cast, and since it would add a little more weight to the lower half of the body, I could also see it pushing the gymnast to planche forward over the bar a bit more to even out the weight. After training this way for a prescribed amount of time, would the athlete have a much improved cast handstand upon removing the ankle weights? Would the gymnast's balance feel off when they cast up?

Secondly, is the concept of using ankle weights to help promote more powerful tap swings. I'm thinking by having an athlete wear ankle weights while working tap swings on strap bar, it would help them feel the whip effect of the feet much better. It could be easier to feel the drag of the feet through the bottom of the swing, and they'd have to work a little harder in the tap itself to send that little bit of extra weight upwards. Again, the same questions arise as before: would it actually improve anything? Or would it simply throw the gymnast off from the feeling of their normal center of gravity?

The third idea is using ankle weights for training more aggressive kips. Given the athlete already has a solid glide swing with no shaping errors during the jump to the bar, the glide, and the pike to the bar, could it be beneficial to help increase the overall speed of the kip by adding that little bit of lower body resistance? I see it as potentially helping the athlete to pike to the bar faster, as well as developing straight arm pulling speed a little bit more, too. I could also see it working directly with the cast idea stated above, too.

Fourth and final, is the situation when a kid has an injury and needs to wear a boot. I've heard of coaches using an ankle weight on the other foot to balance out the body weight and allowing the kid to continue training normally on bars, minus dismounts. For some reason, I don't like the idea of having a gymnast train with this big bulky thing on their leg, and possibly have it throw off their vestibular system a bit.

I have the same two questions for all of these scenarios, which I posed earlier:
  1. Would it actually even help?
  2. Would it throw off the gymnast's sense of balance and center of gravity?
I have never tried any of these methods before, but I'm thinking about it. I have a girl in a boot, dealing with a sprain in her big toe, not to mention the few kids I have who are struggling with cast handstands and could use a nice new training method. I'd love to hear your personal experiences in this matter!
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Oct 24, 2009
The 'Wood, Ohio
I have seen #1 and #4 in use.
#1 wasn't necessarily cast HANDSTANDS, but to increase cast heights.
Findings: it did increase cast heights.

#4 used for 3 different gymnasts. 1 had recently gotten her kip and we didn't want her to lose it while in the boot OR to be attempting lopsided kips. The other gymnasts were able to work their kips, casts, and swinging skills evenly.
Findings: Bars didn't suffer and were actually improved when the boots came off.


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Jan 4, 2008
How old are these gymnasts? If you are talking pre pubescent gymnasts I would avoid it, their growth plates are still very open, the risk of injury is higher. Pubescent gymnasts are also a concern, muscles and bones grow at different rates and kids are more prone to injury.

Ankle weights are much safer with gymnasts post puberty, once growth plates have closed.

As far as the kip, it does help gymnasts to learn the skill if they have a little extra weight, I would recommend you have the kids wear sneakers (not sure if that’s an Australian term, sports shoes, joggers). It will add a little extra weight to help with the timing but won’t be heavy enough that the gymnasts will lose their shape.

For training the other skills, if gymnasts don’t have them yet the weight is likely to impact their shapes, as they are still developing the strength required.
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Deleted member 14190

The only thing I use ankle weights for on bars is stationary casts (even then I
May do this 4 or 5 times in a year (all in the same month) with a pad on the bar for hips (mid summer strength) . Pull Ups and dips are fine. You have to watch those hip Flexors. Some people do leg lifts but I think the hip
Flexors get overworked already in
Our sport. I would not do tap swings , setting yourself up for potential injury with falls etc... followed by a lawsuit.


Proud Parent
Sep 17, 2012
I prefer linking the ankle weights together round the waist to make a weight vest idea rather than hanging extra weight off the ankles. Then I would stick to Coach P suggestions. Pull ups and dips. Occasional spotted casts.
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Jul 5, 2007
I do not do any of those things or use ankle weights on bars. They could help in some areas but too many kids and it ends up being a waste of time. Granted I'm not the top level 4/5 bar coach out there but generally all my "true JO 12-15 kids in a group" coming after school kids score 9s by the end so it could be worse. But there are no shortcuts. Just remember that if you're comparing to accelerated programs...well, there's no comparison unless you're comparing with kids of similar body type and ability, but let's say you are, it will still take longer for my kids under the conditions. So I just know that. Just incrementally try to get better. Spotted drop kip cast in the right position, drills for correct drop into circling shape and underswing amp then try it in the pit bar, swings on strap bar (more important to keep arm tension at first then to tap and kick extremely hard, that will come when they have shoulder tension), drills and practice on squat on stand up and balance so they can get a good consistent jump, and of course the dismounts my favorite since when you're dealing with a true JO group that is a nightmare :)
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