WAG Is pulling up your pants a bad idea?

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gympoppop

Proud Parent
No, not in general, in the Kip! So I really like to understand how the skills my daughters are learning actually work and when I was watching bars recently I realized something about the Kip. After taking the feet to the bar, the gymnast isn’t pulling on the bar at all, but rather she is pushing the bar against her legs while unfolding the body from a pike to a hollow hold under the bar and it is this action coupled with the backwards swing that makes the bar slide from the shins to the hips. So first, is this actually correct? And second, is the cue to “pull up your pants” a bad one because the gymnast is going to think they should be pulling the bar towards them? I went back through some old CB threads and a coach I respect very much said that the bar should not be pushed and not pulled during the Kip and the only skill where the bar is pulled on is the chin-up pullover so maybe I didn’t get the wrong end of the stick here.
 
my understanding of the pulling/pushing component in kipping is like:
•glide swing
•leg lift at full extension of glide
•straight arm pulldown paired with explosive kick out of pike position while sliding from ankles to hip joint along the surface of the bar
•a sudden "stopping" of the leg kick to maintain the pike position and facilitate a transfer of momentum to the upper body, which leads to a chest sitting up/leaning forward reaction
•a smooth transition from the straight arm pull into a downwards push sends any excess energy from kipping into the following cast (and keeps arms straight and pretty :) )

I use the pull up your pants correction rarely, but I think it makes sense in principle... the bar ideally would slide along your leg until it reaches your hip - because you cast from your hips and any detours from a straight line is a longer path so inefficient = energy lost. And if you're below the bar and want to get on top of it, I don't see how it's physically possible without pulling at some point - but I am no physicist lol.
 
There are a million ways to phrase any correction, and "toes to the bar, pull on your pants" is a pretty common way of describing the action on a kip. Not the way I usually phrase it, but it's common and it works.

From a basic mechanical perspective, a kip works the same way every bar skill works; increase power by getting the center of mass far away from the bar on the way down and close to the bar on the way up. The athlete stretches out towards the top of the glide swing, then brings the hips closer to the bar as she passes under it on the way back; this way, the hips are closer to the bar on the way up than they were on the way down, and that efficient use of momentum should hopefully be enough to bring the athlete up to support.

Whether the legs are actually in close proximity to the bar on the way up is.... less important than it seems, but it is typically the easiest way to learn the skill.

As for push vs pull.... eh. It sort of depends on what you consider a "push" or a "pull." If you think of "pulling" as bending the arms and "pushing" as straightening them, then there are few if any skills (other than a pullover) where the athlete should be pulling the bar. If you think of "pulling" as moving the bar closer to the body and "pushing" as moving it away, then you do both in every bar skill that ever has or will exist.
In terms of language used and coaching cues, I pretty much always want my athletes to be thinking about pushing the bar, not pulling it. But in ascent phase of a kip, as a result of "pushing" the bar downward, they are bringing the bar closer to themselves, and I can reasonably see that being called a "pull."

*shrug* potayto, potahto
 
I think for introducing kips to beginners, the “pulling up pants” metaphor is helpful for painting a picture of the general kipping motion and where the bar needs to be relative to the legs. Once they’re on the bar and figuring out the timing of the kip and which muscle groups to activate, we move to a “shoot to candlestick” metaphor. Our program director always says that “there’s a right way to pull on your pants and a wrong way to pull on your pants” (holding legs up vs. dropping them too early). Since we drill the inverted hang position a lot, kids already have an intuition of what “shoot to candlestick” means from a mechanical perspective.



Relatedly, our program director is a big proponent of not mentioning the word “pike” when teaching the glide kip. The only time the hips should be closed is immediately after the glide when the toes come to the bar. Everything else should have flat hips. This is kind of a radical idea for me because when I learned to kip, the pike shape was emphasized: pike glide, pike pull-down, pike finish, etc. Did anyone else learn a kip like this? Are there different styles of kips that are acceptable? Or did I just learn a kip wrong 😆
 
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Relatedly, our program director is a big proponent of not mentioning the word “pike” when teaching the glide kip. The only time the hips should be closed is immediately after the glide when the toes come to the bar. Everything else should have flat hips. This is kind of a radical idea for me because when I learned to kip, the pike shape was emphasized: pike glide, pike pull-down, pike finish, etc. Did anyone else learn a kip like this? Are there different styles of kips that are acceptable? Or did I just learn a kip wrong 😆
I'm with you: I can't imagine teaching a kip without a heavy emphasis on the pike.

But if it works it works
 
I think for introducing kips to beginners, the “pulling up pants” metaphor is helpful for painting a picture of the general kipping motion and where the bar needs to be relative to the legs. Once they’re on the bar and figuring out the timing of the kip and which muscle groups to activate, we move to a “shoot to candlestick” metaphor. Our program director always says that “there’s a right way to pull on your pants and a wrong way to pull on your pants” (holding legs up vs. dropping them too early). Since we drill the inverted hang position a lot, kids already have an intuition of what “shoot to candlestick” means from a mechanical perspective.



Relatedly, our program director is a big proponent of not mentioning the word “pike” when teaching the glide kip. The only time the hips should be closed is immediately after the glide when the toes come to the bar. Everything else should have flat hips. This is kind of a radical idea for me because when I learned to kip, the pike shape was emphasized: pike glide, pike pull-down, pike finish, etc. Did anyone else learn a kip like this? Are there different styles of kips that are acceptable? Or did I just learn a kip wrong 😆
I feel like I might sound like a caveman but I thought shape change = power, so hollow to straight = some power and pike to straight = lots of power (cuz more shape change), no? I see Japanese beginners learning bhs with full depth squat -> extension to arch and I'm like "nice, so much shape change". Is this too simplistic or simply how gymnastics works?
 
Thank you everyone for the helpful and informative replies! I think I now understand the proper technique much better. After snapping the ankles/toes to the bar, the gymnast raises the hips through a candlestick action while unfolding the body and simultaneously exerting a downward force on the bar with straight arms to close the shoulder angle. This downward force moves the bar towards the hips and raises the gymnast to the bar along with the momentum from the glide swing. Should the shoulders closing/candlestick action happen when the hips are just under the bar or wait until the hips have passed slightly beyond to the back side of the bar? I’ve read that it is bad to start the action too early.

I can see how some would call this action pulling the bar down or pushing it down, and past threads indicate that it’s pretty evenly split. And I agree it doesn’t really matter for coaches that know what the correct action is, but I hadn’t quite appreciated how difficult it may be to find the phrasing that gives the correct mental image for any individual kid. I would think that could be a challenge at times and can see why some avoid using the pulling language if they have the wrong interpretation so that they bend their arms.

My verdict is that pulling up the pants is a useful image/analogy. If you were lying on a bid and trying to put your pants on both legs at a time as quickly as possible with your feet starting above your head, I think you would do exactly the correct candlestick/hip raise and arm pull down action of the Kip. Might be a fun drill! Thanks CB!
 
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I do not believe in this method. When I was learning my kip what helped me was hollowing in the back, pointing my toes towards the ground, and then looking at my toes while doing the kip.
 
Relatedly, our program director is a big proponent of not mentioning the word “pike” when teaching the glide kip.

Ok, so the more I think about this, the less crazy it sounds. Some thoughts:

First, tell a high-level bar worker to do a kip from as little swing as possible, and what you'll usually end up seeing is a kip where the feet don't come anywhere near the bar, and there's no real closed pike anywhere in it. My gut feeling is that this requires more strength and more precise timing, but it can be very efficient if done well.

Second, a kip is mechanically extremely similar to a weiler. You could reasonably think of a weiler as what a kip would be if the glide swing somehow ended up in handstand. And a weiler generally has little or no pike to it.

So if a kip from almost no swing doesn't need to pike, and a kip from the highest possible swing doesn't need to pike, does a kip in between need to pike? Mechanically, all that needs to happen is for the center of mass to move closer to the bar for the upswing than it was on the downswing, and that's certainly doable with no pike.

I won't say I'm convinced, but I am definitely intrigued.
 
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Ok, so the more I think about this, the less crazy it sounds. Some thoughts:

First, tell a high-level bar worker to do a kip from as little swing as possible, and what you'll usually end up seeing is a kip where the feet don't come anywhere near the bar, and there's no real closed pike anywhere in it. My gut feeling is that this requires more strength and more precise timing, but it can be very efficient if done well.

Second, a kip is mechanically extremely similar to a weiler. You could reasonably think of a weiler as what a kip would be if the glide swing somehow ended up in handstand. And a weiler generally has little or no pike to it.

So if a kip from almost no swing doesn't need to pike, and a kip from the highest possible swing doesn't need to pike, why does a kip in between need to pike?

I won't say I'm convinced, but I am definitely intrigued.
How would you cast out of it if there was no pike at the end?
 
How would you cast out of it if there was no pike at the end?
That’s what I asked my program director when she was teaching a kip clinic! She says the kip ends before initiating the cast. Yes, you need to pike in order to cast, but that is part of the cast, not part of the kip.

Anyway, all this discussion is interesting because it confirms that I’m not the only one who thinks of a kip as requiring at pike. With that said, my program director has a lot of experience as a coach and as a judge, so on first principles, I trust her opinions. I’m going with her to a nationals competition in a few weeks, so I will probably pick her brain some more about this.

After watching a bunch of elite athletes doing kips (across many countries and time periods), I see a lot of different styles. Some end the glide swing in a tight arch position before snapping to a pike, some are fairly hollow throughout the whole kip, some (as @Geoffrey Taucer mentioned) barely get their feet to the bar. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many correct ways to do a kip, and therefor many correct ways to teach a kip.
 
That’s what I asked my program director when she was teaching a kip clinic! She says the kip ends before initiating the cast. Yes, you need to pike in order to cast, but that is part of the cast, not part of the kip.
But in order to initiate the cast, you need to end the *kip* in a pike. I'm just a gymnast who still struggles with kip cast/cast handstand so I'm just super curious.
 
After watching a bunch of elite athletes doing kips (across many countries and time periods), I see a lot of different styles. Some end the glide swing in a tight arch position before snapping to a pike, some are fairly hollow throughout the whole kip, some (as @Geoffrey Taucer mentioned) barely get their feet to the bar. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many correct ways to do a kip, and therefor many correct ways to teach a kip.

What would be interesting to know is if different techniques suit different body types.

Looking at how elites do skills is sometimes not helpful as they are physical anomalies and can often do skills despite technique or because physically they are able to do different technique. We can look at Simone's tumbling and try and replicate but would that work with a 5.5 athlete with significantly slower twitch?

Personally for my more recreational athletes who are lower hours, and not super strong I teach them to swing their kip more by lifting the glide so they need to use less strength and less likely to loose the skill through growth periods.
 
Personally for my more recreational athletes who are lower hours, and not super strong I teach them to swing their kip more by lifting the glide so they need to use less strength and less likely to loose the skill through growth periods.
Could you clarify this last bit? Does this mean finish the glide in a more horizontal position with the feet farther from the floor or lifting the hips more when bringing legs to bar so that shins hit instead of feet? Or maybe something else? Thanks!
 

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