Fixing Bad Vault Habits

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Hi, asking question as a parent. A bad habit was picked up along the way. A young and small L7 (just over 50#) somehow learned to pounce on springboard...she does a long hurdle, but the knees come up, she goes a bit too high, and she ends up punching the board with knees a bit bent, probably figuring that she'll make up in the power of hitting the board what she lacks in size.

Of course, that's not how it works. Bent knees reduce the power and propulsion, so it's always been a challenge to get good heel release, get into proper position for flight, get good height and distance post-flight. Tends to pike early and until recently has struggled with angle of repulsion.

Question is, what's the best way to correct the preflight? Just saying, "don't bend your knees," probably won't cut it. How to convince someone smaller than the vault table than the best way to clear it in good form is not to pound on the springboard? How to change a habit several years in the making?
Try slowing the whole part down and doing little drills. Do just the hurdle part--work on fixing that. Then add a slight run and the punch off a board.

If it's the part from board to horse that needs fixed, again, just try breaking it down.

Good luck! Hopefully i was help!
As Hammy said breaking it down is key, sometimes you have to go back to basics.
1st hitting the board and doing straight jumps landing on the floor.
2nd hitting the board and doing straight jumps up to blocks and then keep building the blocks up until they are ready for pop ups onto the vault.

Teaching just rebounding on the floor is helpful also- children tend to think that when rebounding off the floor they must bend knees to jump higher. You can put blocks and panel mats on the floor spread out just enough for them land in between and rebound up and down on the way back from vault.

Check out the gymnasts run also- many vault problems stem from the run!
When I first got my new level 4s (when I moved and starting training a different group of kids) the very first thing I worked on was fixing their running technique. I find it important to fix it when they're young so that you don't have to try and do it later.

Try having them run over foam blocks (picking their knees), and try to teach them proper arm technique for running.

Have them try only taking 10-12 running steps leading up to their vault. I used to complain when my coach made me count my steps on vault, and I was only allowed to take 10. I, like most kids, thought the farther I ran the faster and better my vault would be. As I got more mature in gymnastics I realized he did this because we weren't running a marathon before vault; we were just doing the run to build speed and power. He coached numerous vault champions over the years.

I am curious to know whether I should began to worry about her running habits for vault - she is young, 5 and a half and won't compete until she is 7 but of course in the mean time she is training for level 5 on a pre-team. Anyway, she tends to run then skip run again, sometimes leap - probably very typical of a five year old to find a way to play during practice:D ... Her coaches are generally sticklers about doing things properly but they have not said anything to her so I assumed they were not concerned about it just yet and I don't step in at all, I let the coaches coach and I get to be the beaming parent ;) ... I would not have even wondered actually, except after reading this thread where you mentioned it was better to curb their running habits into good ones early on.... she is right now, very far from being able to do a handspring on the vault and only recently could jump up onto the vault mat without using her hands (she was a little afraid + she is pretty small) ... so anyway, is it okay to not take this too seriously just yet? She is really just beginnning to enjoy the vault, having not ever been exposed to it until a couple of months ago...
Running is a very important part of vault and I'm sure her coaches will fix it when they see it is necessary. At your daughters age it is very important to keep them having fun and interested, if they were to work on their run until it was perfect most would not want to come back. It sounds like you believe in her coaches so your attitude to just let it happen and let them coach is the best.
Thanks Audra,

I appreciate the input and I feel the same exact way... just glad to hear it reinforced. It probabaly seems silly to even ask, and I do trust her coaches very much - they are the best I have seen... but I had never really thought of it before, until I read this forum... thanks so much :)

I would recommend working on the running if she's pre-team, that way you don't have to try and fix it later. Some fun drills that I do with my little ones (and older ones) are:

-Running over foam blocks (line foam blocks up evenly spaced across the floor and have them run over them without knocking them over and as quickly as they can.
-Arm position: have them sit in pike and teach them how their arms should be bent and what not---have them swith back and forth slowly and what not then have them switch really fast and see if they can get their bums off the ground (they usually like that part because it's funny).

You can even have them practice running by doing relay races and what not. She'll have to do level 4 before she does 5, and to do a proper handstand flat back (lvl 4 vault) running and hurdling to the board is important. Another thing to think about is how far of a run is the gymnast doing---try to not let them take more than 10 steps if they're a little one but as a lvl 5/6 and up i say no more than 12 steps.

Hopefully this helped answer some questions you've had. Feel free to message me if there's anything i can help you with.
those actually sound like great drills that she can work on - even practice at home... my dd is all about relay races too :) I am going to count how many step she takes tonight in gym, but if I had to guess I would say she does about 16 right now, (with her skip and/or jump in between) -she is little, so it could be more and I guess as cute as the skip/jump thing is to me, it is probably a bad habit:p ... right now her coaches have them run and jump up on the mat and then run and do their flat back handstands etc, they also heavy spot them for a front handspring on the vault.... until a few weeks ago she could not even jump up onto the mat w/out using her hands, but has since started to get better. She would do a handstand flat back but had to jump then press up to her handstand, which is clearly not the correct way... last week she figured out the step jump onto the spring board, landed in the middle (she usually lands on the white line) and did a BEAUTIFUL handstand, flat back the correct way - i was shocked lol, she was shocked but she was VERY excited, and has since been trying to jump up on everything in the house... your drills sound like a great/fun way to channel that energy:D . Her gym does not compete level 4, they start at level 5 so she won't be able to compete her handstand flat back, but I am glad to know that it is a great and necessary "in between"... even with her recent accomplishments in vault, she is still a million miles away from her vault handspring. tx again for your help - nic
Stretch a piece of prewrap across the hurdle zone (real low). Make her snag it with her toes as she hurdles. It's very funny watching some gymnasts try this, they just can't seem to break the prewrap (they always jump over it).

I wouldn't suggest doing this with regular vault, maybe just front tucks onto a pit mat. It's a really fun drill, but it freaks some gymnasts out and you don't want them running into the table.:eek:

hi i have been having trouble on vault and i need some tips <im in lvl 4> im doing a roll not a handstand and i need tips on how to drive my heels up please:eek:
Okay first of all stop caring about whether you are going to get over or not, just focus on getting to a handstand. Think about doing a front layout over the mat (even if you can't do one). Remember DO NOT let your shoulders or arms bend, ever! It doesn't matter if you can't get over doing it this way; you will eventually just work hard! :)
All of the suggestions are good, but should be coming from her COACH not her mom. If you are correcting her at home, you are probably maiking this way more confusing foryour daughter. Please leave the coaching to the coaches!
hi i have been having trouble on vault and i need some tips <im in lvl 4> im doing a roll not a handstand and i need tips on how to drive my heels up please:eek:

Don't think at all. I know this sounds weird but it's a handstand flat back on a big squishy mat. Focus on a good run that starts slowly and ends in a low fast hurdle. Try to push the springboard into the mat (i.e. try to push it forward) then squeeze everything you own while pushing your arms behind your ears just like a front handspring on floor. Somewhere in the middle, your hands will hit the mats and you will bounce to your back. This also works for table vaults.

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