Saturday, February 26, 2011

Level 5 Uneven Bars Requirements

Check The World of Gymnastics, a great site which helped me compile some of this information, for more requirements. The site provides this type of information for a lot of different routines over multiple levels.

In a level 5 uneven bar routine, judges will look for fluid connections, good body position, and attention to detail from the gymnast throughout both the low bar and high bar sections of the routine. The following is a list of individual requirements for the level 5 bar routine. If any of these requirements are missing, deductions will be taken.

Glide Kip
The glide kip can be performed in either a straddle or a pike position and with or without the use of a springboard, depending on the gymnasts' and coaches' preferences. If the gymnast chooses to perform a straddle glide kip, her feet must come together at the end of the glide. For both types of kips, the gymnast must leave the ground or springboard off of two feet at the same time and must lead with her feet in the glide. Gymnast must not bend elbows during the kip and must end in front support. The glide kip connects into a front hip circle.

Front Hip Circle
Gymnast must maintain straight, tight hollow body position all the way around the bar, with head neutral and arms straight. Must end in front support. Failure to maintain hip or upper thigh contact with the bar will result in up to a 0.20 deduction.

Cast, Squat on
First cast must be directly connected out of the front hip circle. Gymnast must show a straight line from shoulders to feet, a tight hollow body without any arch in the back, and must reach a 45 degree angle (or horizontal to the bar). The gymnast should control her body as she brings her hips back to the bar. The second cast for the squat on follows the same requirements as the first cast - although the gymnast is squatting or piking on, she must still reach 45 degrees and can only raise her hips when she is performing the squat or pike on. Both feet must land between the gymnasts hands at the same time.

Jump to High BarThe gymnast should show a tight body, no leg separation, and pointed toes during the jump, which directly connects to the Long Hang Kip.

Long Hang KipGymnast should swing to near horizontal before beginning the kip and must maintain straight arms throughout, ending again in a front support position.

Cast, Back Hip Circle
Gymnast must connect the cast right out of the long hang kip. The same requirements apply to this cast as to the low bar casts. Gymnast must maintain a straight, tight body position throughout the back hip circle and, as with the front hip circle, must maintain hip or upper thigh contact with the bar throughout.

Gymnast must show a smooth transition from the back hip circle to the underswing. Must show hip or thigh contact throughout with the same straight hollow body position.

First Back Swing
On the back swing, the gymnast's hips must rise to at least 30 degrees below the high bar. Must maintain a straight line from shoulders to hips.

First Tap Swing
Gymnast must show "tapping" motion - that is, she must show a slight, tight arch throughout her body with feet behind her at the bottom of the swing, then raise the feet again in front, finding the tight hollow body position. Feet must reach to at least the height of the high bar at the top of the swing.

Second Back Swing
Same basic motion as the first back swing with the same body position requirements, but on the second back swing the gymnast's hips must reach to 15 degrees below the height of the high bar or higher.

Half Turn DismountGymnast must reach a height of at least 45 degrees below the high bar. Must show a complete 180 degree turn before re-grasping the bar. The gymnast must re-grasp before letting go of the bar. Of course with any dismount, the judges will be looking for a controlled landing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Long-Hang Kip

The long-hang kip is a bit different from a glide kip performed on the low bar. Though the two skills require similar upper-body strength, the timing is quite different, as is the swing. In general, this is a skill that takes a lot of practice and repetition before the gymnast figures out what the correct swing feels like and transfers that swing into her muscle memory. As with the free hip circle, I can offer a few tips and tricks, but practice is what is going to get the skill to click.

This skill begins with a jump to high bar. If your jump isn't solid, the long-hang kip will be more difficult. You do not want to jump in such a way that your back is severely arched when your hands hit the high bar. In order to have a smooth swing into your kip, you should reach the high bar with a tight, straight body. Depending on your height and the bar setting, you may benefit from reaching the bar in a slight, tight hollow rather than a straight, stretched body. Either of these options is great as long as there is no huge arch to interfere with the natural motion of the swing.

As you reach the high bar and begin your swing, you want to try to keep your feet behind you. A pretty common mistake is bringing your feet up too high on the upswing. When the upswing is too high, it's difficult to continue that momentum as you bring your ankles to the bar and begin to kip up. Swinging too high will work against you by bringing your momentum straight down, rather than back and up. You want to control your swing by keeping your feet behind you at the beginning of the swing.

However, this doesn't mean you should ignore the tap. You still need to perform a slight tap as you would with a normal tap swing. Keeping your feet behind you before the tap will just help to control your height and speed.

After the tap, you should swing up so that your body reaches a nice, stretched hollow. This is the point at which you want to raise your ankles to the bar and begin to kip. From this point forward, the kip is much like a regular glide kip. The same motions apply - the "pull up your pants" motion with the legs, a slight wrist shift, and ending in a front support. Of course, if you are connecting a cast out of your long-hang kip, you will need to finish with your feet in front of the bar and your shoulders leaning over as well.

These are just some basic tips. A lot of it, as I said, is just figuring out the timing that works for you. Happy kipping!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clear Hip Circle on Bars

A clear hip circle (or free hip circle - I will use the two interchangeably as most coaches do) is a level 6 USAG uneven bars skill that is a variation of the level 5 back hip circle. I find this skill to be quite mechanical; there are a lot of specific things to keep in mind in attempting this skill as far as body position and timing go. Gymnasts need to be very aware of their form as well as their position on the bar and in the air in order to figure out the precise timing necessary for this move. Much of the most helpful instruction for free hips comes from timing drills that help the gymnast get the feel for when to open their shoulder angle and shift their wrists. Another main component of the skill is upper body strength.

While most of the progress with this skill will come from repetition and drills, there are a few tips gymnasts can keep in mind to make the skill go more smoothly. These are also tips that coaches should keep in mind in correcting form.

  • A strong cast - at least to horizontal - is highly recommended before the gymnast even begins to attempt this skill with or without a spot, especially if the goal is a clear hip to horizontal or higher. Without the momentum that comes from a high, tight cast, it is nearly impossible to complete this move successfully. Muscling it around is possible but likely will be accompanied by an arched back and other form mistakes, and the gymnast will probably just barely clear the bar.
  • As the gymnast begins to come down from the cast, she needs to maintain a controlled hollow body position with stomach muscles tight.
  • Instead of bringing the hips back to the bar as the gymnast would with a back hip circle, she needs to drop her hips below the bar. The bar and hands should be about in line with the gymnast's mid-thigh. When first beginning the skill, it's okay to drop the hips only an inch or so below the bar, but as the gymnast progresses with both strength and timing, she will find it beneficial to drop a little lower below the bar. During this point in the skill, it is also essential that the gymnast leans back with her shoulders. The timing as far as when to lean the shoulders back has to do with how high the clear hip is intended to be - for example, if the gymnast wants to do a clear hip to handstand, she should begin leaning back with her shoulders as she passes through horizontal coming down from her cast. If the gymnast does not intend to free hip too high, she can wait a little longer before dropping her shoulders back and beginning the circling motion.
  • While the gymnast is circling the bar, she needs to maintain the hollow body position. A slight pike is okay, but ideally the gymnast's body should make a hollow line. The main point to remember is not to arch at this point in the skill, as that will make it impossible to push up and off the bar. Likely an arched back will turn the free hip circle into a regular back hip circle with bad form, and the hips will come back to the bar, which of course is not the goal. Another point to remember as the gymnast begins to circle the bar is to keep the head position neutral.
  • As the gymnast comes around the bar, she needs to begin to open her shoulder angle and simultaneously shift her wrists. As she does this, she will push down with her hands into the bar and push her feet up towards the ceiling and back, clearing the bar and landing with her feet on the floor. Or, if the gymnast is performing a free hip to handstand, she can return her hips to the bar and finish in front support.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Skills and Topic Requests

Hey guys, sorry I've been a bit absent on the blog lately. School tends to take over my life. I'm hoping a few of you will comment on this post and list one skill on each event that you're learning right now or struggling with. If you have other topic requests, please let me know that as well! And parents, if there are skills you'd like to know more about or if you have specific questions, also feel free to join in! I'm hoping to get some new posts up soon based on your feedback. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Carly Patterson Biography

Carly Patterson Bio

DOB: February 4, 1988 
Country Represented: USA 
Coach: Evgeny Marchenko
Best Event: Carly is uniformly known as a great, consistent beam worker, but what always separated her from other gymnasts is the fact that she never really had a week event; she was disciplined in her form on all four events, which allowed her to win and All-Around gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, as well as at the US Senior Nationals.
Best Known For: Her performance at the 2004 Olympic Games! She is recognized mainly for her All-Around gold, which she won with a score of 38.387, but she also earned herself a silver on beam as well as a silver in the team competition.
Currently: After the 2004 Olympics, it was discovered that Carly had a few bulging disks in her back, and for that reason she retired from gymnastics entirely. Since then, she has pursued a music career, but she will always be remembered for her gymnastics career, as she is now a member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Interesting Fact: Carly has a full-length music album called "Back to the Beginning," which has been released on iTunes along with a few single tracks. Prior to releasing her album, she was on a show called Celebrity Duets, produced by Simon Cowell, where she had the opportunity to sing with multiple famous musicians. Not the best singer in the world, but at least the fame she gained from the Athens Olympics gave her the chance to try out something new. Here is a video of a song called "Here I am," which was featured on the show Make it or Break it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Questions and Comments

You know what to do! :) I'll also be taking topic requests in the comments section, as usual, so let me know if there is anything specific you'd like to see coming up on the blog.