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Teaching Great Yurchenko Layout Vaults

Teaching Great Yurchenko Layout Vaults

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Published by Valentin Uzunov
This article continues on from the discussion presented in “Qualitative description of the ideal Yurchenko layout vault technique” published in Vol 4, 2010 issue of the Gym Coach Journal. In the first part of our discussion and examination of the Yurchenko layout, it was concluded from available research and data that all good Yurchenko vaulting performances had three biomechanical characteristics in common: an appropriate CM pre-flight velocity, a high level of pre-flight angular momentum and contact the horse with a large body angle of attack. The purpose of this article is to use the insight from the previous discussion and practically apply it in the presentation of a methodological model for coaching of the Yurchenko layout vault. The training model presented uses a series of drills, progressions, and specific physical preparation exercises chosen for their specificity and development of the key biomechanically factors identified with successful Yurchenko layout performance.
This article continues on from the discussion presented in “Qualitative description of the ideal Yurchenko layout vault technique” published in Vol 4, 2010 issue of the Gym Coach Journal. In the first part of our discussion and examination of the Yurchenko layout, it was concluded from available research and data that all good Yurchenko vaulting performances had three biomechanical characteristics in common: an appropriate CM pre-flight velocity, a high level of pre-flight angular momentum and contact the horse with a large body angle of attack. The purpose of this article is to use the insight from the previous discussion and practically apply it in the presentation of a methodological model for coaching of the Yurchenko layout vault. The training model presented uses a series of drills, progressions, and specific physical preparation exercises chosen for their specificity and development of the key biomechanically factors identified with successful Yurchenko layout performance.

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Published by: Valentin Uzunov on Apr 25, 2011
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12/11/2012

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Gym Coach, Vol.5 (2011) 12-21www.thegypress.net Technical Report 
©2011 The Gym Press. All rights reserved Gym Coach Vol.5, April, 2011 - 12-
Teaching a great Yurchenko layout vault
 Valentin Uzunov 
 
J.E.T.S Gymnastics, Rochester MN, USA 
 ABSTRACT
This article continues on from the discussion presented in “Qualitative description of the ideal Yurchenko layout vaulttechnique” published in Vol 4, 2010 issue of the Gym Coach Journal. In the first part of our discussion and examination of the Yurchenko layout, it was concluded from available research and data that all good Yurchenko vaulting performanceshad three biomechanical characteristics in common: an appropriate CM pre-flight velocity, a high level of pre-flightangular momentum and contact the horse with a large body angle of attack. The purpose of this article is to use the insightfrom the previous discussion and practically apply it in the presentation of a methodological model for coaching of the Yurchenko layout vault. The training model presented uses a series of drills, progressions, and specific physicalpreparation exercises chosen for their specificity and development of the key biomechanically factors identified withsuccessful Yurchenko layout performance.
Key Words
: Yurchenko vault, coaching vault, vault, vault conditioning
INTRODUCTION
The Yurchenko vault has become the accepted vaultingstandard for the majority of elite and high level femalegymnasts. Even though gymnasts and coaches have had ahigh success rate with this specific vault, it still remains anopen question what is the best and most efficient way tocoach and execute the Yurchenko. Although such a question would be hard to answer, due to the large degree of  variability amongst performers, coaches and trainingmethods used, there are certain similarities between all top Yurchenko vault performances. In “Qualitative descriptionof the ideal Yurchenko layout vault technique”
,
Vol. 4 of the
Gym Coach Journal
the author reviewed the currentresearch and coaching textbooks and concluded that the bestapproach to developing this vault should focus on three key characteristics: a) Training the gymnast to generate andmaintain the appropriate velocity of the CM during pre-flight; b) entering the pre-flight with high levels of angularmomentum; and c) to contact the horse with a large body-angle of attack and angular velocity. As with all vaulting, the key to success is in the approach andthe pre-flight. Few vaults have specific post flightcharacteristics, such as the handspring double front (Roche vault) vault, which demands specific post-flight training asrecommended by Takei, 2003, Takei 2007. From ourprevious examination of the kinematic and kineticmechanics of this vault (Uzunov, 2010) it was possible toconclude that the key factors that differentiate betweenoutstanding performance and mediocre or poorperformance lay in the gymnast’s ability to generate greaterangular momentum and the appropriate flight path of theCentre of Mass (CoM) during pre-flight, as well as theoptimum body position and angle on horse impact. Inessence, the execution of the pre-flight and horse contact will dictate the level of success of the performance.Successful training and execution is further complicated by the fact that an optimum pre-flight is dependent on thesuccessful execution of the preceding phase, or springboardentry.The scope of this article is to present a systematic trainingprogression that employs current understanding of the Yurchenko layout mechanics and modern training methods,and in doing so train gymnasts to attain superiorperformance and by-pass potential shortfalls of less Yurchenko specific training methods.
TECHNIQUE
In order to understand the training progressions employedit’s important to first examine each phase a little moreclosely and provide the reader with a better understandingof the rationale behind the progressions used in the trainingmethodology.For this purpose two vault examples are used to study andillustrate the ideal model of execution.
 
Uzunov V. Teaching great Yurchenko layouts, Vol 5, 2011 www.thegympress.net13
Example 1
- Unknown gymnast (Yurchenko layout)
Example 2 -
Kohei Uchimura (Yurchenko layout 2½ )
 As with any vault, the run-up represents the first phase.Research has shown that for direct vaults such ashandspring and Tsukahara vaults, maximising approachspeeds is critical. However, this is not the case for Yurchenko vaults. From examination of a limited butrepresentative range of technical literature on gymnasticscoaching (3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) it seems clear that generatingsufficient speed and control into the hurdle is moreimportant than max horizontal velocity on approach.Studies have shown that approach speeds during the Yurchenko are significantly lower compared to other stylesof vault (1). Running styles and technique are rarely discussed in great detail in gymnastics literature. Rybecki(2008) encourages teaching proper run-up technique andposture, which help set up the most conducive conditions forthe hurdle (9). Running technique is discussed in detail by Uzunov 2009 for readers interested in learning more aboutsprinting training for vault. As can be seen in the two video examples, each gymnastuses a comfortable sprinting style and approach speed.The hurdle is not often discussed in detail. It neverthelessplays a critical role in the performance and execution of the vault, with critical errors often arising from this seemingly simple action. The hurdle is characteristically described as being long and low for all vaults. The reason for this is toconserve maximum horizontal momentum (3) going intothe next skill/phase, which in the case of the Yurchenko isthe round-off. During the hurdle, the arms should be swungupward and forward aggressively giving the gymnast thesensation that s/he is being pulled forward by the arms. Atthe peak of the arm swing the gymnast shoulders should pinhis/her ears and simultaneous protract the shoulder (this isknown as the “chest in” position). The shoulder girdle must be fully elevated and protracted throughout the entirehurdle and the entry into the round-off. This action can beobserved in both video examples however example 2 showsit especially well.Coming out of the hurdle the gymnast needs to be preparedfor ground impact onto the back leg (ref to Figure 3). Onfirst impact the back leg should impact the groundunderneath or even behind the gymnast with the gymnast’sCoM in front of the foot (Figure 3).
Figure 3
-
Ground contact at end of hurdle. Notice that in bothexamples the gymnasts have impacted the ground with the back leleg behind their CoM, which is ideal for creating eccentric forceon leg drive. The left example shows a mistake: the hips are in not in too much of a pike.
Ensuring the gymnast’s CoM is in front of the back leg footplacement is important because from this position thegymnast can eliminate the majority of breaking forces(slowing down, decelerating forces) on ground contact andputs the gymnast in a positions from which s/he cangenerate the most amount of turnover going into the round-off.The effectiveness of the round-off onto the springboarddecides the uppermost limits of what the gymnast can attainduring the successive phases (2). Going into the round-off from the hurdle the gymnast must continue to reachforward while powerfully kicking the back leg over, toinitiate the round-off turnover (going from and upright toan upside down position). The back leg should aggressively kick over the gymnast’s head, and continue without any 
 
Uzunov V. Teaching great Yurchenko layouts, Vol 5, 2011 www.thegympress.net14
deceleration of the leg. This is referred to as having ‘
follow-through
’. The front leg should push downward and backward, thereby generating a lifting of the CoM. Both legsshould come together just prior to springboard impact. A common mistake in learning and performing the round-off is to slow down the back leg (first leg) in order to try andallow the front leg to catch up. A fast turning over at the round-off is critical not only inorder to establish a high level of angular momentumthroughout the vault, but also in order to facilities the block in the round-off. The block during the round-off helps raisethe CoM so that the gymnast can impact the springboard inthe correct position.First impact with the springboard must be high, atapproximately 60° angle (12) with the gymnast’s upper body (in particular his arms, head, shoulders) moving very quickly over the top of the feet (5).
Figure 4 -
Springboard impact phase shows a high impact angleapproximation – 60° in both angles - with minimal flexion of hipsand knees The gymnast in the example does a better job at keepingthe shoulders pinned to the ears with the arms and head acting asone unit.
 All high-scoring Yurchenko vaults involve a quick transitionover the top of the springboard (1). The hip angle onspringboard impact should be as close to full extension(open) as possible, the chest is closed, shoulders are incontact with the ears, and the head is in a neutral position(5,8) (Figure 4). Landing high on the board will preventexcessive leg bend and will also aid the athlete to quickly rebound off the springboard.On springboard take-off the gymnast must fully extend all joints, so that all limbs align to a tight upper back archposition (Figure 5).Following the take-off from the springboard take-off thegymnast should be rotating very quickly backward whilsthis/her CoM is rising upward. This is critical in order for thegymnast to make quick contact with the table at a high angleof impact (12), thereby creating the ideal conditions for thesubsequent repulsion phase.
Figure 5 -
Springboard take-off position. Notice the tight upper back arch, with the hips directly above the feet. This is a key position and coaches should look for it.
 
Following the take-off from the springboard take-off thegymnast should be rotating very quickly backward whilsthis/her CoM is rising upward. This is critical in order for thegymnast to make quick contact with the table at a high angleof impact (12), thereby creating the ideal conditions for thesubsequent repulsion phase.The effectiveness of the repulsion phase is a combination of the take-off body position and dynamics. Technicalcoaching literature always advises that the gymnast needs toimpact the table with an open (fully flexed) shoulder angle,however this is rarely, if ever, observed in top vaulters. A  better coaching focus is to develop a fast turnover andimpact the table with a high
angle of attack 
with theshoulder joint being as close as possible to 180° of flexion(figure 6).
 Figure 6 
 – Both gymnasts demonstrate a high body angle attack on table impact, with the shoulder angle close to 180° of shoulder  flexion (the right example camera angle distorts the angle of attack for a better comparison).The gymnast on the left does abetter job at keeping the head between the arms and the shoulder angle closer to 180°.
 A high body angle of attack facilitates the generation of angular momentum during impact with the table becausethe reaction force passes behind the whole body CoM. If theangle of attack is low, the gymnast will lose angularmomentum on impact because “the gymnast’s weight actsas a moment arm in a counter-rotation direction of the vaultand so reduces the angular momentum of the gymnast” (11).The correct position and dynamics on table contact,coordinated with a strong and powerful push through theshoulders and wrists joints, allows the gymnast to quickly deflect off the table and establish increased vertical lift of the CoM. The gymnast must complete the block action and

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