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How to Teach a Freehip Circle to Handstand

How to Teach a Freehip Circle to Handstand

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Published by Valentin Uzunov
The freehip to handstand is a fundamental skill on uneven bars and high bar, just like the glide, basic long hang swing, and the backhip circle. The are many drills and methodologies to coaching this skill. One common characteristic by all methods however is the great emphasis needed on conditioning and developing of the correct body positions. This is a labor intensive task by the coach and very physical demanding on the gymnast. This article presents just one method to developing the free hip to handstand on uneven and high bar.
The freehip to handstand is a fundamental skill on uneven bars and high bar, just like the glide, basic long hang swing, and the backhip circle. The are many drills and methodologies to coaching this skill. One common characteristic by all methods however is the great emphasis needed on conditioning and developing of the correct body positions. This is a labor intensive task by the coach and very physical demanding on the gymnast. This article presents just one method to developing the free hip to handstand on uneven and high bar.

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Published by: Valentin Uzunov on Oct 31, 2010
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 Gym Coach, Vol.2 (2008) 22-24 Methodological  Article
How to teach a freehip circle to handstand
Lukas Stitt
 Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, Canada
 ABSTRACT
The freehip to handstand is a fundamental skill on uneven bars and high bar, just like the glide, basic long hang swing,and the backhip circle. The are many drills and methodologies to coaching this skill. One common characteristic by allmethods however is the great emphasis needed on conditioning and developing of the correct body positions. This is alabor intensive task by the coach and very physical demanding on the gymnast. This article presents just one method todeveloping the free hip to handstand on uneven and high bar.
Key Words
: clearhip to handstand, in bar work, circling skills. uneven bars, high bar
INTRODUCTION
The freehip to handstand also known as clearhip tohandstand is an extremely versatile skill. It can serve as asetup skill for the entry into giants, piroettes, release skills,dismounts, other in bar circling skills.There are many possible drills that can be used to developthis skill, with as many different methodologies. Howeverone common trait between any method is the necessity forspecific physical preparation.The following article details one particular methodology tothe physical preparation and teaching of the freehip circle.
METHODOLOGY 
 Progressions towards a freehip circle tohandstand 
 A freehip circle is basically a backward role tohandstand performed onthe bars. Thus it may be of assistance to introduce afreehip as such. The firstdrill is a straight arm backward roll where the gymnastmoves through a temporary handstand and finishes in ahollow front support position on a set of boxes. The seconddrill is a back drop on trampoline followed by a bounceinto handstand. Note that for both exercises, the athlete’s body shape remains slightly hollowed. An important steptowards learning a freehip to handstand is the athlete’sgrasp, that any freehip action is not the same as a hipcircle.The next exercise will help distinguish between those toconcepts. Teachinga cast to an “upperthigh circle” is oneof many ways toachieve this. One of my favourite drillshowever is theunder-shoot.Starting eitherstanding on the boxor in a frontsupport, thegymnast casts or jumps and pullsher/his upperthighs towards the bar while leaning back with theshoulders. Thegymnast thenshoots away in anupward directionand either lets go of the bar and landson their feet or swings back. This can also be done with a back upraise to under-shoot, and trying to shoot as close tohandstand as possible. At this point, we can now introducea freehip circle to a horizontal front support position,
©2008 The Gym Press. All rights reserved Gym Coach Vol.2, May, 2008 - 22-
Figure 1 – 
(top) Backward roll to front support onto elevated boxes.(bottom) Backdrop bounce tohandstand on trampoline
 
Figure 2
(top) cast to upper thigh circleand cast to under-shoot.(bottom) spotted clearhip to horizontal from cast, and than progressed to handstand 
 
Figure 4 -
 Diagramillustrating the ideal  performance of a freehipcircle to handstand 
.
 Lukas S, Gym Coach, Vol.2 (2008) 22-24 Methodological Article
 
 which is only one step away from a freehip circle tohandstand.
Common Errors
It is important to understand some of the commonperformance errors made throughout all stages of learningfor this skill (Figure 3). Bending of the arms is most likely due to a lack in shoulder flexionstrengh. A lack of this strengh can alsoresult in the arching of the lower back inorder to move the CoG over the base.The arching of the lower back of coursecan also be due to a lack of corestrength. Another frequent error made by younger athletes letting the hips dropduring the entry phase. This can beeither due to an inability to understandthe key positions and/or a deficiency inshoulder extension and core strength.
DISCUSSION
 Description of the skill 
(Figure 4)
 A:
The gymnasteither starts inhandstand or a highcast position.
B:
Once the CoGmoves outside its base and into thedirection orotation, the upper body shifts over the bar in order tocontrol the entry by counterbalancingthe backwardrotation of the body about the shoulders.
C-D:
Through a rapid shoulderextension, rotation around the shoulders is increased. Atthistime the shoulders should also start to shift behind thehands. When reaching position D, the gymnast should leanthe shoulders backwards. By stopping the backwardrotation of the legs and trunk about the shoulders, themomentum is transferred to a backward rotation of theentire body around the bar.
I:
At this time, the upper thighs should be kept about 10cm away from the bar and the existing hollow body shapemust be maintained with constant muscular tension of theshoulder girdle and the abdominal musculature.
F-G:
Dueto the accumulated backward rotation, the gymnast mustnow - forcefully flex her/his shoulders and stop the body’s backward rotation about the bar by transferring it to aforward rotation of the legs and trunk about the shoulders.
H-I:
When approaching the handstand position, inaddition to the required shoulder flexion, the trunk andhips should also be completely extended.
Conceptual and Physical Preparation
The coach must ensure that the necessary prerequisites arein place before s/he proceeds with teaching this skill.One of the most crucial factors in teaching or learning thisskill is the level of physical preparation, especially trunk flexion and shoulder flexionand extension, as well as thegymnast’s conceptual andphysical grasp of the kepositions. As shown in thedescription, the optimalposition throughout therotational phase includes aminimal flexion of the trunk and hips (Figure 5)Once the gymnast understands the body shapes needed toperform a freehip circle, the appropriate level of physicalpreparation should be maximized in order to increase theperformance success during the learning phase. Below aresome suggestions for conditioning exercises to prepare theathlete physically, as well as functionally.
Shoulder extension and trunk flexion
The gymnast hangs on a bar andlifts her/his entire body withminimal trunk flexion (hollow) sothe upper thighs touch the bar –3sets/6-10reps
Shape awareness and stabilization
The gymnast tries to hold theposition shown between the P-Bars without touching the bars –3sets/10 sec. hold
Shoulder flexion
On an exercise ball, the athletemoves from a front supportposition to a planche position andpushes back to a front supportposition – 3-5sets/6-10reps
©2008 The Gym Press. All rights reserved - 23 -
 
Figure 3 -
 Illustrations of common error. The red diagram show theincorrect body shapes and positions and the the black show the correct body positions
Figure 5 -
 Key body positionsneccesary in performing thereehip. Notice the minimal flexionof the trunk and hips in eachosition

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