tumbling: hurdle

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Oct 22, 2007
I have a group of level 3s (girls) who have just finished their competition season and are now working on level 4 skills.

we have been doing lots of drills and progressions for round-offs and have started on some for flips.

I would like to do some work on hurdles with them as well.
In their level 3 routine they had to do a hurdle (from standing), cartwheel step-in. So they already know basically what it is but they all do it differently and probably not with the best technique.

so..... what kind of hurdle do you recomend teaching? i.e. chasse type, knee up high, knee down low..... (sorry for the bad descriptions!!)
AND do you have any type of drills etc to work on them?

Thanks! :)


Aug 3, 2008
I personally prefer the straight legged type (I'm guessing that was the one you described as chasse type), it just looks more clean and I like the momentum I get from it, though it's been a very long time since I have done one with a bent knee to compare. I'm no help as far as drills though, sorry!



hurdles should be fast powerful and low to the ground, they should go forwards and down to the ground as quickly as possible, if a child lifts their leg they go up which kills the speed and makes them come down to the floor at a strange angle, closing their shoulder and hip angles, and making the round-off incorrect. I hope this helps :)

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Like lasswade said, the hurdle should be long and low. As far as specific form in the air on the hurdle, I just let the kids do it in whichever way is most comfortable to them. As long as they're going long and low and aren't twisting early, they're fine.

Watch any ten elite gymnasts on floor, and you'll likely see ten different types of hurdle.


New Member
Aug 26, 2008
Geoffrey Taucer is right. Go for long and low, specific form isn't a big deal as long as it isn't stopping them from performing the skill correctly.


Jul 5, 2007
I don't like the high chasse type hurdles (if I'm thinking correctly of what you mean) except into a gym-acro combination in an optional floor routine when the gymnast is capable of distinguishing the two.

Personally I prefer the front leg to be more bent on floor. Both legs bent into a yurchenko entry.

As for how I teach it, usually I set small mats where I want them to start, put first foot, put second foot, put hands, etc. This is assuming they have the basic principle down. From stand, work regular long jump with arm swing (two feet to two feet) from line to line (can you jump over the second line) then have them try from two feet on first to one foot on second into the step out position. With younger kids I start teaching the concept from a step before moving to hurdle from stand. I find that makes it easier for them to distinguish the difference in movements from a floor hurdle and a hurdle onto the spring board and a power hurdle.


Honestly, any L3/4 should have beautiful chasse and assemble and basic skipping ability. If they don't, it's going to be very trying to get them to learn how to learn either of the 3 basic hurdle techniques besides a power hurdle.

Quite often, either they are too uncoordinated to be able to move through certain positions or weak. That means they need to train to be able to hold a deep lunge besides moving through it. And not just falling all over the place with it.

One of the first drills is a lean, fall lunge. Basically raise up on the toes until you feel the sense of falling forward, stick out a leg and hit the lunge. They have to be able to land the perfect lunge with the upper body diagonal and in line with the back heel before we move on.

Obviously, they need to be able to do a standing long jump. Do one, land in lunge. Eventually add a cartwheel or round-off. I prefer cartwheels since most low level compulsories have problems in their round off I'm still working on as well.

Eventually you can have them jump off a spring board or big block and hit the lunge and CW or RO out of it. However, too often I see coaches keep doing this and getting frustrated when their kids just fall apart when hitting the ground. If they can't do the prior drill and maintain shape, they have no business moving on further.

So basically we're doing a power hurdle. This drills a lot of strength in the position before we try hurdle ROBH with whatever type of hurdle and skip the basics.

I like to have them be able to create enough turnover in a round off from just a step. That means round off, over rotate to their back on a porta pit or flapping on a cheese mat. Sometimes we'll do this down a cheese to help them at first.

I don't want them to cheat the ROBH with momentum from running or hurdling. Especially early on, since that means we will have to go back to it.

Once they have a RO and Power hurdle decent enough, I teach the one step and hurdle first. It's easy. It's good to do on a line so they don't start stepping across themselves which will make their round off funky.

I prefer the straight leg hurdle that bends and pushes through a lunge into the RO. However, so long as the momentum and body is angled forward, I'm not too concerned.

I don't tend to teach them a chasse in the air lunge, as it is uniquely involved. It's interesting because it doesn't take as much space and some can do more with it. If they can't do a skip hurdle or straight leg hurdle, I might play with the chasse hurdle one on one. I don't teach it to a newbie group unless they have the skip or straight leg first.


Sep 13, 2007
way out West
I have been spending a whole year un-teaching a kid who does a straight leg hurdle. It's a nightmare.

That type of hurdle tends to make the roundoff flip slower (because it comes from higher from the ground) and it kills forward momentum. They just aren't very efficient, even through they look pretty... and they are horrible for Yurtchenkos.


Oct 22, 2007
thanks for the replies everybody!

I have always been taught not to do straight leg hurdles and anyone that moves up into our group (top group in the gym) is checked by the head coach for what hurdle they do and are converted pronto if they do them with straight legs!

since I have these kids with starting from scratch pretty much, I wanted to get it right the first time because I have seen other kids have trouble changing their hurdle over plus I figure if we spend time on getting it correct now then we will save lots of time and effort later on!

BlairBob, I did a lot of those type of drills you mentioned earlier this year when they were first learning to hurdle from standing (is that what you mean by a power hurdle??) but I think we will go back and do them again because it definitely won't hurt them to have a bit of a refresher!

on my searches for hurdle drill and advice I found these:
USA Gymnastics Online: Technique: Drills for Power Hurdle with Legs Together Step Out

maybe they will be of use/interest to the rest of you.....

thanks again everyone! :)


Aww, you make the straight-leg hurdle kids change??? I know it's not the easiest technique to teach, but it's so beautifully soviet that I love to watch the rare one or two I might see in a season.


Jun 24, 2008
I feel like there are two types of straight leg hurdles that are being discussed here (correct me if I'm wrong). One type is similar to a bent-leg hurdle, except the leg is sticking out straight... so the legs are at an angle between 45-90 degrees. The other type is more of the chasse type in which both legs straighten through the bottom, and then the dominant leg extends in front into a lunge, if that makes any sense.

For what it's worth, I do a bent-leg hurdle into all of my passes, as well as for Yurchenkos. I do a high straight-leg chasse into things like RO straddle jumps, or jump lunge ROs. However, if I were to do a straight-leg chasse hurdle into a pass, it would be much lower than what I would do into a dance-acro series.


Jul 13, 2008
rainy washington
When I was little we worked a lot on Power Hurdles. They were really hard for me, and I didn't like doing it much, but during competition, and especially now I appreciate it a lot. Because Power Hurdles were harder, when we switched to regular hurdles, it was a lot easier for us, and we realized that we got a lot more power.


Some of the terminology is going over my head a bit! Straight Leg Hurdle ??? Could someone detail what it is?? My girls are concentrating on doing all from a power hurdle at this stage but I am really interested to get a better insight into different hurdle techniques.



A straight leg hurdle on floor just has the leg swing straight in the air. When it is placed on the ground, it will bend through a lunge position.

I feel like there are two types of straight leg hurdles that are being discussed here (correct me if I'm wrong). One type is similar to a bent-leg hurdle, except the leg is sticking out straight... so the legs are at an angle between 45-90 degrees. The other type is more of the chasse type in which both legs straighten through the bottom, and then the dominant leg extends in front into a lunge, if that makes any sense.
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