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Category: Gymnastics/Tumbling

Posted on June 28, 2008 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

handspring 204x188.png


A front handspring is a common gymnastics skill that is often demonstrated outside competitive gymnastics as well. There is an appeal to being able to run forward, kick through a handstand and spring back to your feet. It has also found application in the upper levels of other sports such as a handspring throw-in on the soccer field. While less intimidating and safer to learn than a back handspring, a front handspring is far more difficult to perform correctly.

Performing a correct front handspring requires you to override several natural reactions during the course of the skill. It also requires a strong kick accompanied by a strong push with the opposite leg. Good shoulder flexibility is necessary to optimize push off the floor and allow for efficient positioning.

There are two prerequisites to a front handspring. You must be able to do both a decent hurdle and a solid kick to handstand. The kick to handstand should go straight to the handstand with proper shoulder extension.

Read the full article in PDF

Posted on December 19, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

hurdle

In gymnastics, a hurdle is the final preparatory step before performing a skill from a run. The purpose of the hurdle is to properly position yourself for the takeoff while maintaining and/or building momentum.

In most cases, a hurdle should be low and long. This will maintain forward momentum and allow sufficient time for preparatory positioning. There are a few exceptions, such as a hurdle on a diving board, where little forward momentum is available and the jumping surface is highly flexible, in which case a high hurdle is optimal.

Even if you have no plans to perform gymnastics or acrobatic movements from a hurdle, practicing a hurdle will have transferable benefit. It will improve footwork in any athletic endeavor where step adjustment is necessary, and it will improve your ability to navigate uneven surfaces rapidly and without injury.

You must know how to skip in order to have an effective hurdle. If you have not skipped since you were young, or have never skipped before, now is the time to begin practicing.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on November 18, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

stretching

Gaining flexibility is primarily about discipline. It requires neither great pain nor specialized knowledge of particular tricks. The primary key to gaining flexibility is simply to stretch often. If you do not stretch, or do so only sporadically, your gains in flexibility will be limited. To improve your flexibility, you should stretch at least once a day, and, if possible, multiple times per day. Short, repeated exposure to stretching is more productive than a single intense or long bout of stretching. For example, it is far better to stretch ten minutes per day, every day, than to stretch 70 minutes once a week. Stretching is also a long-term commitment and must be continued indefinitely to maintain and/or increase flexibility.

Flexibility is not something that automatically comes with strength training. On the contrary, strength training without stretching can lead to dramatic reduction in flexibility. In many cases, when taken to the extreme, such a lack of flexibility will result in loss of "normal" function, not to mention loss of high-performance function so important to athletes.

Making significant increases in flexibility will bring marked improvement in performance.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on October 11, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

handstands04


Handstands, hand walking, and pressing to the handstand are critical exercises to developing your athletic potential and essential components to becoming "CrossFit."

Historically, these exercises have been collectively referred to as "hand balancing" and have been an integral part of strength and health culture since antiquity, yet today hand balancing seems to have followed the passenger pigeon to extinction.

Examining the twin questions "what has been lost by this extinction?" and "what does hand balancing offer that makes it essential?" is the aim of this month's Journal. The answers to these questions motivate a challenge for our readers for the New Year.

The quick and obvious analysis as to hand balancing's benefits would include improved balance and increased shoulder strength, and though accurate, ending the analysis here doesn't speak to the singularly unique advantages to this training.

There are countless successful protocols for increasing shoulder strength and balance, but training the handstand and presses to the handstand improves proprioception and core strength in ways that other protocols cannot. Let's examine this claim more closely.

Being upside down exposes the athlete to, what is for many, a brand new world.
This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.


Posted on August 17, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

freehspu

Performing handstand push-ups (HSPUs) without the support of a wall or spotter dramatically increases the demands of the movement. The stabilization required during the movement provides a stimulus that is simply not present when the HSPU is assisted. Regularly performing freestanding HSPUs will dramatically improve any overhead lifting or throwing activities. The following article provides a progression for developing the ability to do a freestanding HSPU, starting with no handstand experience whatsoever.
This process may take years for many people.

Beginning handstands

Many people will be intimidated simply by the concept of doing a handstand. Fears of falling and/or not being able to support themselves with their arms will be the primary hindrances early on. Proper positioning and a gradual progression will take trainees through this process safely and quickly.

The first step to a handstand is simply to learn how to be comfortable in a hand support. A vertical handstand is not necessary to start this process. Start with a folded panel mat, plyo box, or other stable raised surface. Stand in a shallow lunge in front of the object with arms overhead.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.


Posted on May 15, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

tumble

This month we review a small yet dense out-of-print book titled Gymnastics and Tumbling. First published by the U.S. Navy in 1944, Gymnastics and Tumbling is today an obscure reference in danger of extinction. We believe it is an indispensable resource for CrossFitters and intend to keep it alive.

Shortly after the United States' entrance into World War II, the United States Navy implemented a physical training program for future pilots based on training and practicing various sports: "Successful coaches were commissioned so that the Navy might have the best instruction available." The successes, methods, and refinements of these coaches-turned-officers culminated in the issuance of the Naval Aviation Physical Training Manuals by the U.S. Navy in 1944.

The manuals were prepared by and for the newly commissioned officers from their experiences in teaching thousands of aviation cadets.

Read the full article in PDF

Posted on March 30, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

rings.jpg

The exact time and place where rings first appeared is unknown but it is widely accepted that they evolved from a trapeze-like device that by 1816 featured loops fashioned from knotted rope.

What is more certain but poorly understood is that for nearly 150 years the men that worked the rings were in possession of an upper body strength that finds no equal in weightlifting or other calisthenics. The ringman, pound for pound, presents more upper body strength, along more lines of action, than any other athlete.

The fitness that CrossFitters demonstrate cannot be found without ring training. Gymnastics rings occupy a place in our training that only the barbell can match. Kettlebells and dumbbells, medicine balls and stretch bands, while essential to our practice, are second tier tools to the rings.

Read the full article in PDF

Posted on March 30, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

swing
Generating and maximizing swing has application in a wide variety of activities and sports. From a gymnastics perspective, swing generally means swinging your body on an apparatus, but the principles and techniques apply to swinging objects with your body as well.

There are four fundamental factors involved with maximizing swing: maximizing momentum in the downward phase, maintaining momentum throughout the swing, maximizing the application of force against gravity in the upward phase, and minimizing loss of speed in the upward phase. All four factors are affected dramatically by body mechanics. Proper mechanics can make an enormous swing effortless, and improper mechanics will reduce a potential swing to a wiggle.

Maximizing momentum in the downward phase of the swing involves keeping your center of mass as far as possible from your anchor point (your hands). Moving your center of gravity an inch or two away from the anchor point can have an enormous impact on the outcome of the swing. Maintaining momentum throughout the swing is all about proper mechanics.


This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.


Posted on March 10, 2007 in Gymnastics/Tumbling

backhandspring.jpg

If you ask beginner gymnasts what skill they most want to learn, the most common answer is “a back handspring.” It is a visually impressive skill and is frequently used in performance arts and in movies. It is a functionally powerful movement and helps develop strength, power, and agility. Learning to do a back handspring properly and safely also requires individuals to overcome fear and override many reflexive instincts. Overcoming these obstacles is a valuable skill in itself—one that carries into other aspects of training—and life.

Fear is a significant factor in learning a back handspring. The fear response is a good thing. Executed improperly or without appropriate progressions, an attempted back handspring can lead to serious injury. Follow all steps correctly and thoroughly. Ensure that you have the right equipment (including mats and pads) and spotting for each of the stages.

The first step in learning a back handspring is learning how to sit back properly. The main direction of the back handspring is backward, not upward. This is somewhat counterintuitive, and you must learn how to sit back properly so your jump travels backward. Find a stack of mats that is just below hip height. Stand facing away from the mats with your heels about two feet away from them. From this position, sit back and jump backward onto the mats. You should try to travel as far across the mat as possible leading with your hands. During the sit, your torso and lower leg should remain vertical. You must bend at the hip and the knee so that your hips track well behind your knees, and your knees stay directly above, or just behind your feet.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

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