Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tip #4: Being a great gymnast.

Tip #4: Watch your lines. You guys all know this, but it's SO important to keep your legs straight, your body tight, and your toes pointed at all times. I'm sure you've watched Nastia Liukin's bar routine and heard almost every commentator say something about how impressive her clean body lines are. Even if your clear hip or cast doesn't quite reach the height it needs, if you make a nice line with your body, it's going to give a better impression and you just might get away with it. This doesn't apply only to bars, of course, but I think it's most impressive if you can look graceful and polished during a bar routine. It's expected on floor and beam especially, but bring this to bars and vault as well. It looks nice. If you can make the routine look effortless by polishing it up and displaying great form, you've done your job.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tip #3: Being a great gymnast.

Tip #3: Study ballet. Again, this probably seems very basic, but grace is a huge part of gymnastics, and it is something that has to be learned. My mom used to come to my meets, and almost every time, she would say, "I can tell which girls are ballerinas and which aren't." Girls who have taken a few ballet practices learn to extend all their limbs, point their toes, and move in a way that looks totally effortless. My sister, who is a dancer, tells me that gracefulness eventually comes naturally. If taking a ballet class is not an option, that's okay. There are other ways you can practice being graceful. Take the time to stand in front of a mirror at home and go through a routine only completing your arm movements. Watch the way you move and try to make it appear as light and as polished as possible. It will pay off!!! I wish I had done more of this when I was a gymnast.

If you watch "Make It or Break It" on ABC Family (come on, I know most of you do :P), you will see Sasha Beloff telling his girls that there are two types of gymnasts: power gymnasts and artistic gymnasts. To an extent, that is very true. I always considered myself a power gymnast. However, to be the very best, you need to have both power AND artistry, and both those elements can be learned.

I would also suggest watching a few videos of past Olympic gymnasts (and by past, I'm talking 1960s-1970s). Over time, the emphasis on poise and beauty has slowly made room for a greater emphasis on power. That's not a bad thing by any means, but sometimes it helps to look back at how gymnastics has evolved and how it all started. Watching early gymnastics routines always inspired me to bring back the artistry in my own routines.

Since I don't know how to embed videos yet, I will provide you with the link to a routine from 1968. There are a lot of lovely, beautiful dance moments in here. Enjoy :)


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tip #2: Being a great gymnast

Tip #2: Smile at the judges. As much as the judges say that your presentation and attitude don't affect you're score, they really do. Technically speaking, judges can't deduct for lack of presentation. But selling yourself - in your floor routine especially, but also in your beam routine - will give the judges a better overall impression of you, and I can almost guarantee that it'll win you a couple of tenths. So make eye contact and smile during your routine. Let them know how much you love this sport. Show them that you're passionate about it. These guys watch the same routines over and over and over again in compulsory meets, so shake it up a little bit and be the gymnast that stands out in their minds at the end of the day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tip #1: Being a great gymnast.

I will be posting a series of tips to help you become the best gymnast you can be. Here is the first of the tips. It might seem simple and unrelated, but I assure you it is not :)

Tip #1: Support your teammates.. Establishing a close bond with your teammates by praising them for their accomplishments, as well as supporting them during the rough patches, will make for smoother practices. If you encourage your teammates, they will encourage you back. I can honestly say that I would never have been able to progress at the rate that I did in this sport if I had not had the constant support of the people around me. My coaches and teammates helped me to overcome fears and to keep pushing even when I was frustrated and tired. A simple high-five and a "good job" when I achieved something new was enough to get me really pumped up to keep working hard. Try this out at your next practice. If this is something you already do, keep doing it! Maybe there is a teammate that you don't talk to as often or don't know quite as well as the others; try giving her a high-five next time, or telling her you know she can do it. Being a good teammate is just as awesome as being on the podium at a meet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back Extension Roll Tips

I'm answering this in a separate post because I think quite a few people have trouble with back extension rolls at first. I know I did. So, to the anonymous reader who asked the question, getting only a few inches off the ground and then falling back down is an extremely common problem with this skill. It's a practice-makes-perfect move, nobody gets it exactly right on the first try.

The back extension roll is dependent on timing and strength. As you roll back, make sure that you're keeping your arms straight (VERY IMPORTANT! Bending you arms and pushing up is incorrect and judges hate it) as well as pushing your arms/hands hard into the ground as you open your shoulder angle. You will use your abs to help elevate your body. You can start with a backward roll to the hollow push-up position and slowly work your way up to the extension to handstand. Hope that helps!

Photo provided by cgill on Flickr.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reader updates!! Poll: Season goals and current skills.

I want to know how your skills are coming along! And what is your number 1 goal for the upcoming season?