Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back Handspring Tips

This seems to be a hot topic, so here are some tips for how to do a great back handspring!

1. Practice the squat!! The squat is so essential to the backward motion of the skill. You've probably heard it many times, but it should be as if you're sitting in a chair. You need to get a good bend in the legs and sit back. The backwards motion starts here!!

2. Get a strong arm swing. You should practice without the arm swing, too, so you can figure out how to push hard with your legs to make the handspring. But once you know you have that down, the arm swing will get you some good momentum. You should, of course, combine this with the push from your legs as you extend your legs and spring off those toes.

3. As you begin the first phase of the handspring, really open your shoulder angle (note: that does not mean that you should throw your head back!) and open your hips so that you find that nice tight arch position over the top.

4. Over the top of the skill, your arms need to be tight at your ears with your head staying in place, chin tucked in slightly. Of course, straight legs, tight core, and pointed toes. At this point, you can start spotting for the hand placement with your eyes.

5. Immediately after your hands hit the floor, you need to block as hard as you can off of your shoulders. Do not bend your arms and push off - the block should happen all with shoulder power, and of course with straight arms (not locked, but straight) and your fingers slightly turned in to prevent injury to the elbows.

6. Now you're ready for the turnover. What you're going to do now is to snap your legs down towards the ground for the rebound. You can do snap-down drills by kicking up into a handstand on a panel mat and snapping your feet down, first controlling the landing by bending the knees and landing with a hollow chest, then trying the same thing with a high rebound once your feet hit the floor.

7. During the rebound, your knees should not bend. Similar to your hands hitting the ground in the handspring, you do not want to lock the knees but they should be straight. The rebound really comes from pushing off the toes as hard as you can. After you get a great rebound, you can start working on sets for a back tuck!

8. Coming down from the rebound, bend the knees slightly to control the landing and extend your hands our in front of you for balance. Keeping a tight body throughout the skill and the rebound is going to help you to stick the landing.

Following these basic tips you should have a pretty nice back handspring :) Remember to stretch out your back with bridges and back walkovers before jumping right into the handspring! Happy flipping!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gymnastics Movies and Books

Just thought I'd point you guys towards some books and movies about gymnastics that you might be interested in! Unfortunately you don't see gymnastics in the media too much, but I have found a few things I enjoyed.

My FAVORITE gymnastics book is called "Gymnastics: The Trials, The Triumphs, The Truth" by a guy named Dan Gutman. I have loved this book since I was a little girl. There are a few bios in there of famous gymnasts, both men and women, of the past. It provides general descriptions of all the events and has a "gym talk" vocabulary section, which is pretty funny :) It also talks about some of the down-sides of the sport, like some occurrences of eating disorders in elite gymnasts. My favorite part about the book is the stories/biographies of Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut and their journeys in gymnastics!

There is a movie called "Nadia" that also gives an overview of Nadia Comaneci's life, being trained by Bela Karolyi in Romania and reaching success at a young age. It's a little corny but VERY interesting and definitely worth a view, in my opinion. It gives you some insight into her life, and you learn that she had to overcome many obstacles. You may be able to find this at a library, but you might need to do some searching. I also know that is available on VHS from Amazon.

Another is a Lifetime movie called "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" about a gymnast who moves from her more fun, relaxed gym to a very serious gym to follow her elite dreams. The movie deviates a little bit from the real world of gymnastics (ex: at the meets, the gymnasts compete with spotlights moving all around them. It's just little things like that), but if you're willing to look past that I think it's a worthwhile film.

This next one I would direct both to you as gymnasts as well as to your parents. It's called "Gymnastics" from the Sport Psychology Library. I have not read it myself but have heard it's immensely helpful in giving insight on how to overcome the mental obstacles that gymnastics presents.

Then, of course, we've got "Stick It" and "Make it or Break it" :)

Who knows, maybe I'll write a gymnastics novel someday. But only if all my blog readers promise to read it and pretend like they like it :D

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nastia Liukin Biography

Nastia Liukin!

DOB: October 30, 1989
Country Represented: United States
Coach: Her father, Valeri Liukin. She trains at WOGA, which is owned by her family.
Best Event: Based on scores and overall presentation, I'm gonna have to name UB as her best event.
Best Known For: Her 2008 Olympic AA win! :)
Currently: Still training. Nastia has also made a few TV/movie appearances and has her own GK leo line.
Interesting Fact: There are so many! Excuse me for listing more than one, but... Nastia was born in Moscow and is fluent in Russian. Both of her parents were champions in the Soviet Union, her father a gold medalist in gymnastics and her mother a World Champion rhythmic gymnast. She is also a spokesmodel for Covergirl!

Friday, October 1, 2010

How to Help Prevent and Take Care of Rips in Gymnastics

My coach used to try to make us think rips were cool. He would say, "Getting rips means you're a hard worker and a great gymnast." Maybe that's true, but nobody likes to get rips, so here are a couple of tips to help prevent them and to take care of them when they happen. There's not a whole lot that you can do about rips, unfortunately, but I'll tell you everything I know.

1) Use tape. If you feel like you're getting a blister or if you already have a rip, use a little bit of pre-wrap and then wrap your hand in athletic tape. It doesn't necessarily take away the pain, but it does help to prevent the blister from ripping further. (Ew, I hate the word blister. I bet you do, too. I don't blame you. Bear with me.)

2) If you are getting to the level where you're starting to learn things like clear hip handstands and giants, now is the time to get grips. They do NOT prevent rips like some people say they do, but when you are performing skills that require so much hand-to-bar time, they do reduce the friction a little bit. Of course you'll also need them to help you grip the bar, which is clearly their intended purpose.

3) If you get a callus on your hand, you can use a pumice stone or some other sort of file on it to reduce it a little bit. You don't want to go overboard with this, obviously, because if your hands are completely callus-free, they'll get sore pretty quickly on bars.

4) This one is a little controversial, but some girls like the "sock method." Put some lotion on your hand and then put a sock over it while you sleep. Take it off in the morning. Supposedly it has healing powers, though I've never tried it myself.

5) Try some Neosporin and a band-aid if all else fails.

6) If you're really in a lot of pain, ask your coach if you can work on low-friction skills for a while. Examples of that would be casts, cast handstands, squat ons, jump to high bar, pirouette drills, release moves, transitions, etc. depending on your skill level.

Happy bars. :)