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.
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.
Description of the skill
The gymnasteither starts inhandstand or a highcast position.
Once the CoGmoves outside its base and into thedirection of rotation, the upper body shifts over the bar in order tocontrol the entry by counterbalancingthe backwardrotation of the body about the shoulders.
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.
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.
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.
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 key positions. 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
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 -