For Coaches teaching falls

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Jul 21, 2008
New Zealand
Hi. I was wondering how many of you teach your gymnasts how to fall properly - both rec and competitive. I was also wondering what you teach them. I vaguely remember from a coaching course almost 10 years ago to teach the gymnasts to land as flat as possible to disperse the force (obviously depending on how they're falling), or to roll if possible. Part of the curriculum where I coach involves teaching kids to break a fall on their hands. I have a problem with this because I coach in a gym with mats that are fairly thin and don't really absorb much shock. That, and breaking a fall with one's hands is a great way to fracture a wrist - I've had a gymnast do this (not because she was taught to but just because it was the only protective mechanism she seemed to have).
Any thoughts?
Thanks in advance:)
Jun 5, 2009
Breaking a fall with their hands is a big NO! You are correct this is a very good way to break an arm or wrist.

We teach safety rolls when falling backward. Roll back with arms extended above head similar to a candle stick.
We teach forward rolling out of a skill when falling forward.

We start teaching these skills in the pre school classes and follow through all the way through competitive levels.


We teach backward & forward shoulder rolls, prone fall activities, how to turn out safely from a handstand etc. This starts in the beginner rec. classes.

Normally in the rec. classes one lesson a term looks at safety issues in regards to falling.

Feb 8, 2008
There's a few "basics" I tell my pre-team class and new level 4s.

1. Don't catch yourself with your hands. Ever.
2. Don't stop halfway through a skill; you will get hurt.
3. Stay tight if you're falling or I can't catch you.


We do safety rolls in all directions with all our gymnasts. As they get stronger we review it, & with my competitive/preteam kids & advanced rec kids we review it as a too much power fall becomes more likely. We have fun practicing 'accidental' dive rolls, back rolls, karate shoulder rolls from every skill they can think of.

And behind you doesn't exist in my classes. If they put their arms back there they have to do a bunch of candlestick jumps or a row of proper forward rolls to retrain their brains to put their arms where they go.
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