Thumb position on bars?

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stargazer

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Oct 24, 2010
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I'm curious about what other people have to say about positioning of the thumbs on bars. Some of the girls as my gym train kip cast handstands to giants without switching their thumbs at all (thumbs on top of the bar for the glide, and remain on the top for the handstand), whereas others are learning cast handstands with thumbs under the bar (imagine trying to touch your index and thumbs together) so that they can't slip off the front of the bar. Is there a way that is more correct? For most of the girls and coaches it seems down to personal preference, but the thumbs under the bar for the handstand seems safer. I switch back and forth depending on what I'm doing (small casts out of kips my thumbs don't move, but cast handstands or preps I always do with my thumbs under the bars because that feels safer).

What do you guys think?
 

flips123

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I thought i was the only one! I do thumbs around for skills that scare me and kips and without thumbs on the ones i feel more confident on.
 

hawaii_gymnast

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Thumbs under the bar (away from fingers) in supports and on top of the bar (by fingers) for anything else. Thumbs switch away from fingers at top of kip into cast and back to by fingers for back hip circle for example. Or cast with thumbs away from fingers switch to by fingers on giant then back to away from fingers back in handstand.
My coach does this because if one hand slips in cast you get caught and don't smack into the bar as easily.
 

gymnastbeth

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We are never allowed to wrap our thumbs around the bar, and instead do a lot of grip/hand strength training. My coach always says she doesn't want us ripping our thumbs off if we forget to switch them back in a momentary lapse of judgement.
 
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BlairBob

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Old wive's tale. Way old school.

Being able to switch from opposed to overgrip really isn't that difficult.

I prefer to teach kids to jump to a glide or high bar in opposed grip when they aren't in grips (L4/5). As they extend towards the front, the thumb will slip toward the top. Sometimes I will instruct them to place the thumb on the bar itself rather than on top or around.
 
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gymdog

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It's fine for cast handstand I guess but personally I don't see the point and I don't naturally do it. Jump to high bar and grab the bar with thumbs around doesn't make sense to me. Key is to get wrists over the bar, especially when not wearing grips. On men's high bar, swinging like this is common and very different.
 

iwannacoach

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IMO thumbs slip out to the side while ascending on the kip, hooked/wrapped/under during the compression/support phase, allows for an easier cast and helps keep the arms from bending. It allows the heel of the hand to securely rest slightly forward of the dead center top of the rail vs. slightly back from dead center top. Thumbs next to fingers is like trying to kick up to a handstand on the sled section of a spingboard with your finger pointing uphill vs kicking to handstand with fingers pointing downhill.

I get the worry about thumbs getting in the way, but I taught a bunch of kids to do this, and they pretty much slip their thumbs back towards the monkey grip on the way down. Never had a problem with with them losing track of it or hurting their thumbs.

Trust me on this one....I would never risk a thumb injury to any of my 1-2 year old pre-pre-school J.E.T. squad as they still need them for emergency pacifiers.......:confused: :D
 
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BlairBob

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Yep, on my first attempt at consciously thinking about it on a girl's lower rail I went from an opposed grip that slipped into overgrip while doing a glide swing.

If anything, you just have to adapt how you jump to the bar. A lot of our girls did not jump to the bar well and grab the bar so that is why we started to implementing having them jump to the glide kip in an opposed grip.
 
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Mack_the_Ripper

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Honestly, I don't even notice what my thumbs are doing...I was taught from a young age to keep them on top of the bar, so I'd guess that's where they remain.
 

GetaGrip

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I switch my thumbs in my kip so that way they are under in my cast. When I drop into a kip, giant, or clearhip I move them back over the bar so they don't get in the way. :p
 

wordsmith

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If I heard them right, Neil Resnick and Tom Forster favor thumbs around for any gymnast who is comfortable with it. Most girls, however, cannot swing like that (I think Tom's gym has at least one young level 5-6ish gymnast who I saw swinging giants with thumbs around the bar a year ago).


Without even coaching it, your general female bar worker will move thumbs in and out, dependent upon certain skills. Some will have thumbs around during cast handstands; others simply won't. If you had to balance a handstand on a single rail, regardless of circumference size, I think you're better off wrapping your thumbs around the bar to grip and control.

I'd say more common is seeing thumbs around during pirouetting and blind change actions (you have better command and control of the handstand position by taking advantage of having opposable thumbs)- and definitely during front giants.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference. Research your own experience and then do what works for you.
 

gymdog

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Thumbs next to fingers is like trying to kick up to a handstand on the sled section of a spingboard with your finger pointing uphill vs kicking to handstand with fingers pointing downhill.

No, it isn't really like that all, especially not with grips. Unless you have an extreme wrist flexion issue, in which case there are going to be bar issues pretty much no matter what you do. Of course pirouetting and front giants is a different technique.

If you do a kip cast handstand with dowel grips (assuming the skill is being performed at an advanced/mastery level) then the hands really don't move that much necessarily. Some wrap their thumbs for handstands, but I wouldn't even say this is the dominant technique in my experience. As far as balancing that isn't really the goal...but I use my wrists and forearms to balance anyway.

Here's a close up of no grips - no wrapped thumbs: gymnastics - bars without wearing hand grips - YouTube
 

dunno

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thumbs should not be wrapped/gripped around the bar. thumbs can be used as guides for certain skills and that's about all.
 

hawaii_gymnast

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Dunno what is your exact reasoning for this?
[video=youtube;oHlQFpZVFEQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHlQFpZVFEQ[/video]
You can see (its kind of hard though) that Gabby wraps her thumbs around the bar in lots of the handstands. Whats your take on this, obviously she has had good coaching and her bars are great with the thumb wrapping.
I have seen lots of other high level gymnasts it was just the easiest to see in the video of gabby, I know Mustafina does it and I'm sure others do too.
 
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BlairBob

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As we said, it's a lot easier to support on top of the bar in an opposed grip. Balance and CoG wise.
 

iwannacoach

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Alohaaaa.....That was a great video choice. You can even see how she puts her thumb out to the side once she's used it in the handstand support phase. From there her thumb will just be pulled into line as her hand advances with the next skill. It's really easy to see 35 seconds into the video when she's turning from a handstand.

I don't know if she's doing it this way because, as I would assume, it makes the skill easier.....or if her coach considers it an acceptable quirk that she can get away with because she's such a FREAK!!....and I mean that in a good way.

One thing's for sure. I really hope I'm never foolish enough to challenge her to a "thumb war". I can beat my 13yo ds with my eyes closed, with either hand, but Gabby would dominate even my superior abilities in EPIC fashion!!

PS.....I had to edit this because my ds came into the room as I finished posting. Upon reading it he claims that he has beat me TWICE, which I doubt. He also says it's unfair to portray him as a 13yo because his birthday was only xxdays ago...LOL

Me...:D Ds...:eek:
 

LiveLoveTumble

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My coach always yells at us if we wrap our thumbs around because she says you can break your thumbs by doing that. But we are not doing handstands or anything where it would help at all.
 

stargazer

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Thanks for the input everyone! Haha I didn't realize this would cause such a debate. I personally do my bars skills the way Gabby does them in that video (great example by the way), with thumbs wrapped under for supports/casts and over the bar for gliding and swinging. I always figured that was the 'right' way to do it, for safety reasons, but clearly everyone has their own way of doing things :)
 

dunno

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Gabby uses her thumbs as 'guides' (as i mentioned above) on some of the skills. she does not have her thumbs wrapped around the bar from the beginning of a skill thru the completion of a skill.

it is typical for men on the high bar to have their thumbs wrapped from the tip of their thumb to the tip of their index finger. this is not the same as what the girls do.
 
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