For Coaches Verbal Prompts to help Initiate rotation in a Front Salto

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I filled in for another coach recently and one of the gymnasts was working on front saltos but was iniating rotation by pulling her arms & head down. I talked to her about rotating her hips over her head rather than bringing her head under her hips. I talked about leg/heel lift etc. Either the gymnast thought I was talking Greek or didn't really want to hear but really wasn't getting through. It got me thinking about my prompts and drills and whether they are effective. Would love to hear your suggestions on verbal cues and drills to work on front saltos. I don't have access to pits or spotting harnesses for tramp at this gym.


I tell mine to lift their hips over their heads. Most of my girls are small enough that I can pick them up and through the first half of a front tuck if need be, so if they need to they can feel how this differs from throwing their fronts at the ground.
Sep 21, 2008
I usually have a "fun day" where we work on elevated saltos. Nothing magical - just do fronts on a springboard landing into increasingly elevated mats.

By the time they get to chest height, most of them figure out how to jump up to rotate instead of whipping their heads.

Every once in a while I would get a kid who still wouldnt get it, so I would change their approach to the under arm swing (like vault), and it helps them lift before rotating.


The reason it was such a puzzle being that it isn't a complex skill was that when I coached previously it was with little gymnasts who could be lifted & spotted easily. This girl was a fairly solid 16 year old hence having to rely on verbals. Told her to think about getting her hips above her head but she wasn't convinced and asked basically how to initiate the rotation to get the hips above her head without starting it with her arms/head. My frustration isn't with a hard to convince teenager but just that (Because I previously worked with pixies and not teenagers learning these skills) I couldn't just pick her up and show her the position.

I didn't work too much on it as I didn't know the girl well. I would use the progressive uphill "funday" idea with my littlies but I didn't want to take risks. I did try to get her to think of how she initiates rotation in her handspring vault even though we are talking different trajectories etc. I just wanted to get her thinking hips & heels over head.

Really love this site. During the years I coached previously I used to fudge until I could get answers, now I can access minds from all around the world. Bliss!

Keep all ideas rolling in.
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I usually use metaphor or real-life situations to teach skills.
To initiate a front rotation, I tell pupils to support and push upward a really big and heavy seeds-bag up to a rack. I ask them to push with their shoulders instead of their arms.
I also like that pupils "feel" the move before they execute:
To "feel" the move, They stand in front of me with arms up, then i use my hands to ressist their move, so they can feel it and give some strenght in the move. You also can take the thorax between your hands (on in front and one behind) to guide the move of the shoulders and upper portion of the back (curved and upward).
I hope this bunch helps.


Nov 12, 2007
Good verbal cues can be heel drive over, or butt/hips drive over.
I think you need to convince her first if you want her to change it however. THis is critical, if the gymnast doesn't trust in what it is that you are doing they will be hesitant to change, especially if they can already kinda do it.
Get a video of her doing it and someone else doing a good one and show her the visual difference. This will probably be enough. After that its a matter of her undestanding how to do the rotation with her hips. Which is actually not that easy to to if you can't feel it.

I use cue like, set, kick, tuck, spot, open. Of course there are other technical factors as to why she might be doing what she is doing, but i am sure you will have spotted those.


Thanks all for your replies. Hearing things from all of you has prompted a lot of thoughts & drill changes. I have had a lot more time with this girl in recent weeks and have taken her back to drills uphill onto stacks of mats with a wedge on top to ensure hips over head intead of head down stuff. I figured she (like many of the "older" gymnasts didn't want to hear something that they were doing wrong that they hadn't been told before so I just gave them different drills with new prompts. She did some nice work here but still goes back to old habits when doing the salto without "a wall of mats" in front of her. Thanks for the prompts guys. Cheers!!!

I have to admit I don't use a video anywhere nearly enough. Of course it would help. Must make sure I don't wipe our recent OS holiday flics though.
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