For Coaches Standing back handspring issue.

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Aero

Coach
Fan
Jan 1, 2014
836
33
Michigan, Region 5
Hello friends. One of my students is having difficulty with her standing back handspring and I'm having trouble pinpointing the exact problem. For a while I was spotting her often, but she was not improving, so I figured she might be relying on me too much. I changed my strategy and started giving her more drills and spotting her less, leaving her to be more independent in trying the skill, while still giving her corrections. She has certainly improved, and I feel like she is much closer to getting the skill now. However, she is still not ready to attempt the skill on her own safely. Can you say "headspring?"

Her name is Jenna and she is six years old and is an Xcel Bronze team athlete. She has been learning this skill for more than a year now. Here is a video of one of her attempts: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m4yx59zbzx8xzsh/Video Dec 24, 2 57 35 AM.mov?dl=0.

To me, it seems like the big issue is that she's not opening the shoulder angle enough (swinging the arms too slowly, maybe?) to get the arms and hands underneath her body for the hand support phase. The turnover is nonexistent. She has a good take off and a nice long jump, but what am I missing?
 

gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
If she is 6 and has been learning this for a year and this is where she is now, then she started way too early and was and is missing key prerequisites for the skill. Not many kids can learn a back handspring at age 5.

The major issue is she has no idea what she's doing. She's just diving back. It is hard to identify technical errors when the child isn't doing a handspring. She just dove back on her neck, but yes, she would definitely have to swing her arms back and lift her hips much more quickly to correct this.

I would do nothing but spot, at this stage. When she is ready you will know because she will get more efficient. Right now she is not very efficient and would likely benefit most from spotting.

Having her do it on a surface that is easier to jump from would be helpful as well. My method is similar to this:
They will start to jump and reach more eventually and then you will be spotting less. Also I use the barrel, not for them to flip over but to lay on and rock back and forth pushing off the feet and hands (you might have to kind of roll it for them unless you have the exact right size), but that is an easy and safe way for them to get the idea of where they need to be.

Unfortunately as much as you want to do it on your timeline it just happens. I had a child who is quite good but I literally thought at one point she would never do a back handspring. I worried about this for a year and had just accepted it. It was just so bizarre because the kid could do everything else. She was not afraid and would have jumped on her head all day if I let her. But when I spotted her it was like dead weight. Then one day she just did it. Now she is fine and a much higher level.
 

iwannacoach

Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Mar 25, 2012
2,877
region II
Tell her these three things......

Tell her to jump as fast and far away from the wall she's facing.

Tell her to follow through into a tight hip press/arch/extension and to keep that tension until she's pushing off into the snap down.

Looks like she has figured out that her feet will come over best if she pulls them over and that's part of what makes her land on her head as her hips counter the motion she's added to "help" her legs get around.

Tell her those three things will make everything else happen... sorta
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
4,026
To me she does not look ready to do this skill, she does not app rear to have mastered the prerequisites. Right from the start when she is standing there and swinging her arms her body is not tight and her arms are all loose and floppy too. Even with the correct take off you can't hope for a child who can't hold her arms tight at the start to be able to keep the straight on landing.

I would leave the back handspring for now and work drills and conditioning.
 

Shooosh

Coach
Proud Parent
Dec 13, 2014
99
Maryland
When she is jumping back to her hands, her body is at an angle still when her hands touch. I believe this is causing her body to 'break' from form as it makes her shoulders collapse and close. Therefore, her head hits. :)
Her shoulders should be over hands and not behind them. That's what I noticed. May or may not be part if the problem
 

wordsmith

Coach
Jun 12, 2010
102
Aero,

First off, congratulations on getting her to be able to sit back and travel long.

Based on that one clip, she just lacks sufficient turnover (stretched too long without enough power to help get her over). Most beginners are too archy (in the lower back) and she's the opposite. She could benefit from getting her shoulders/thoracic to open more.

I'd go with gymdog's suggestion of standing her on an incline mat. Looks like you may have had her do that before, as I see another kid standing in front of a cheese wedge in the pit, waiting. How does she do there? About the same?

Does she bend her arms when she impacts onto a harder surface as well? Hands slightly turned in? Do some conditioning drills with her where the focus is on her keeping her arms "stiff"- standing upright in a stretched/open position (lean her up against the horse or table) with her arms up and you slapping down on her hands; hold stretched, open-shouldered handstands; and bounce her or have her do this herself (hands on a springboard, blocking/bouncing).

One drill I like doing to focus on body tension, length, armswing & head position, is to have young kids use a spotting block or the vaulting table to slide off of, landing in handstand.

If she's able to keep her arms from collapsing on these, then it's probably just a matter of her needing more power/trajectory in turning the handspring over. So have her go downhill, on a wedge (but I suspect you've done this with her, since you have a cheese mat there in the background of the video).

Personally, I prefer an armswing that starts out in front; or no armswing (want to avoid that head throwing back ahead of the arms).

Don't get discouraged with spotting her some more (especially when introducing her to a new setup).
 

Aero

Coach
Fan
Jan 1, 2014
836
33
Michigan, Region 5
Update! So the very next practice we have, this is what happened!!! https://www.dropbox.com/s/zlcmi0aqh6ijusd/Video Dec 24, 2 01 50 PM.mov?dl=0.

I am quite happy, and so is she. I actually think the first flight phase is pretty decent and she seemed to really improve on what her old problem was just over the course of one practice. The correction that helped her? "Lift your hips hard as you jump." Thank you @gymdog! However, I still plan on doing lots of drills and spotting for body shapes/form. I got a lot of very useful information here and I thank all of you for volunteering your advice. I especially like the drills in that video, @gymdog. I'll keep all of you updated on her progress.
 

Sari

Coach
Gymnast
Judge
May 31, 2014
443
29
Wow! I've been lurking around here and that looks SO much better!
 
D

Deleted member D3987

Hello friends. One of my students is having difficulty with her standing back handspring and I'm having trouble pinpointing the exact problem. For a while I was spotting her often, but she was not improving, so I figured she might be relying on me too much. I changed my strategy and started giving her more drills and spotting her less, leaving her to be more independent in trying the skill, while still giving her corrections. She has certainly improved, and I feel like she is much closer to getting the skill now. However, she is still not ready to attempt the skill on her own safely. Can you say "headspring?"

Her name is Jenna and she is six years old and is an Xcel Bronze team athlete. She has been learning this skill for more than a year now. Here is a video of one of her attempts: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m4yx59zbzx8xzsh/Video Dec 24, 2 57 35 AM.mov?dl=0.

To me, it seems like the big issue is that she's not opening the shoulder angle enough (swinging the arms too slowly, maybe?) to get the arms and hands underneath her body for the hand support phase. The turnover is nonexistent. She has a good take off and a nice long jump, but what am I missing?

she's 6 and weak. give it time. and put her on a harder surface. a stinger on a pit causes it to look the way it looks. and maybe you should think about NOT using their names. might be a bad idea.
 
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Deleted member D3987

Update! So the very next practice we have, this is what happened!!! https://www.dropbox.com/s/zlcmi0aqh6ijusd/Video Dec 24, 2 01 50 PM.mov?dl=0.

I am quite happy, and so is she. I actually think the first flight phase is pretty decent and she seemed to really improve on what her old problem was just over the course of one practice. The correction that helped her? "Lift your hips hard as you jump." Thank you @gymdog! However, I still plan on doing lots of drills and spotting for body shapes/form. I got a lot of very useful information here and I thank all of you for volunteering your advice. I especially like the drills in that video, @gymdog. I'll keep all of you updated on her progress.

much better taking off of hard/more firm surface.
 
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Sep 7, 2010
452
USA
Sage advise on take-off surface, working "posture" & tight shapes before jump and the vid of drills.

Congrats Aero! Congrats on the change and of course your passion to make your athletes the best they can be. I like these safe, progressive drills you use in the gym. Hey - good movement analysis. Coach reminder is the question - is the gymnast strong enough for repeated reps and do they enough movement experience to make it consistent? If no, then drills/smaller parts of the movement.

From my corner: I have always had success on making it a BHS to HS and then later stepping down. Even later is landin gboth feet simultaneously. That allows me to teach the entry to the HS phase and then with other drills/focus work on the flight to feet phase. If the athlete is tight working BHS (to HS) falling push-up, perhaps then to knees (posture critical) on soft surface. BHS step out on TT and then shape work from hands to feet in the BHS.


Good stuff sir.


Best, SBG -
 
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