Why wont she keep her legs straight?

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Jul 30, 2009
My dd is a level 3 gymnast. She has all her skills for level 4. She just wont keep her legs straight. Does she need more stretching or something? Are there some stretches she can do at home to help with this?
Have her stand straight up with legs together. Try to get your DD to focus on how it feels to have her legs straight and taut. Practice, practice, practice! Stretching is always welcome, so have your DD focus on her techniques while stretching, say, the splits. I had the same problem. If I performed a cartwheel, my legs were going every which- way. But when I started to pay attention to how my legs felt when straight, it helped me realise how they should feel inverted. But after months of practice, I improved! Good luck to you and your DD!
I agree with Grace13. Alot of the improvement in form comes from practice, practice, practice. Most kids focus on getting the skills. Then once they're comfortable with the skills its time to work on the form----straight tight legs, pointing toes, shoulders back, head up. Most of this really comes in the gym when she's practicing the skills or routines. She may have to tell herself on the mill circle for example---stretch/tight for her legs. There is alot to making just 1 skill not to mention an entire routine look good. At 7yo, thats a big order and some kids don't get the nicer form until they're a little older.

Since you have discussed her coach already, it sounds like she has someone who will watch and make form corrections quite a bit. If you're able to videotape her, that's always a good visual tool. She may think she has nice tight legs in her skills, but watching them on video may show her its not the case. If that upsets her too much, then don't push it at this age. Good form like many skills will come with time as long as she has coaches that will point out the bent legs, lack of toe point etc.
LOLOL I've been asking myself that question since my DD was 4yo on pre- team.

Straight legs takes practice just like any other gym skill. Also the younger the child the less body awarness they have so she might not even be aware that there is a bent leg. Straight legs do come.

Helping her to become more body aware is helpful too. Last season my DD though she had really straight legs until she saw herself in a video taken by the coach. She was totally unaware that the legs were bent. The coach went over and physically moved her legs to straight then back to the bent position and asked her can she feel the difference? And she finally got it LOL only took 5 years LOL.
My daughter is the same way. As she masters a skill though, she starts to focus on the form. I have seen the progress slowly, but surely. If she has coaches that gently and consistently remind her to keep tight, point toes, straight legs, etc, it will help.

My daughter switched to a different gym 4 months ago and I have seen her form improve greatly. Probably a combination of getting older, mastering the skills/being able to focus on the little things and her awesome coaches that are always reminding them to tighten here and there. :D

Some kids have naturally good form. She has a few friends that always have pointed toes and straight legs, even when they first learn something and even when they were 4 or 5. Not my kid, LOL.

I agree with the video as well. When my daughter watched her meets last year, she would ALWAYS point out when she had bent legs, toes weren't pointed. She KNEW she was supposed to do it, but she was still focusing on what to do next, not falling, doing the skill, etc, etc.

As long as she has good coaches, I wouldn't worry. I think in time she will start to improve on form probably. :)
I will definately try the video thing. today in front of a mirror she was doing a handstand and i was like "see, look at your legs" and she immediately corrected them so maybe that will help. yes! i see those girls who seem to just naturally have grace and form and its like wow. i guess it does take practice practice practice for some girls though. i remember in high school as a dancer some girls were naturally graceful but i had to practice HARD to look like they did. so i guess she inherited it from me, hee hee....
hav her try to feel her legs strate. i hav the same probelm. :)
my friend has this problem. She is very unflexible in her knees so even when they ARE straight, they appear bent.
My coaches are trying to fix this by stretching her knees and toes. So she'll sit in pike,her feet raised on a small box, and coach will sit on her knees (not hard or anything) while she keeps them straight for about a minute. then she'll sit in pike on the floor and point her toes while coach pushes them towards the floor.
Its working so far! so good luck!
you know what alanna, that's exactly what they said about her. knees wont stretch! thanks for your tip. i can do the stretch with her while she sits on the floor in pike, the other one i will leave to the coach, hee hee!! thanks!
That stretch (sitting/pushing on knees in a pike) is an invitation for knee problem later! All it does is stretch the knee ligaments- not the hamstrings- which are the source of the problem.

Better to stretch in the pike position- stretching the hamstrings- both sitting (feet pointed & flexed) and a standing pike stretch on the beam or other raised surface. Another great hamstring stretch I call the diaper stretch- she lays on her back and you stretch her toes towards her head (hips stay on floor, legs straight) like you are changing a diaper! The kids who cannot straighten their legs due to lack of flexibility struggle with this stretch. The coaches can also stretch her hamstrings as she lays on her back- there is a technique to it so its not home stretch.

Also, have her sit in a pike and straddle position and have her try to pull her heels off the floor w/ straight legs (sit w/ good posture!). She will be using the top part of her quad by her kneecap. If she learns how to squeeze this muscle, and has the necessary flexibility, she will learn how to straighten her legs. (If her coaches are stressing good form at the gym.)
Keeping good form is a heck of a lot more difficult then it looks!! I remember thinking 'oh, it can't be that hard' but then after I started back handsprings and front hip circles, I found out just how hard it really was...

Sometimes, you just need some time to get the skill down before form becomes a huge priority. When I first started round off back handsprings, it seemed like no matter how hard I tried, my legs wouldn't straighten. After a month or two, things got a lot better, but I still have a ways to go! Here's how they looked in the beginning:

YouTube - Round off double back handspring

Unfortunately, I lost the camera (stolen? D:) so I can't show how they look now, but trust me- they're better!

Another thing that helps is breaking the skill down, and spotting it through, very slowly, being sure to keep legs tight, so she can see how it feels to be straight the whole time. Then, gradually, speed things up. Also, simply having her stand or lie still for a while, keeping tight, helps too. Good luck!
have her sit up straight with her legs in front of her and squeeze them tight and straight as hard as she can/ sometimes we would do this on bars for straight legs on kips:rolleyes:and other skills.
straight legs just take time and wont come right away. they will come as the skills progres. for example, my bhs on floor has straight arms and legs...but on the beam i have slightly bent legs and sagging arms/shoulders. dont worrry straight legs will come. hope this helps!
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