Tip: Keep Your Elbows to Yourself

I should probably say keep your elbows in, but that title isn’t as catchy. When stunting as a base, cradles excluded, elbows should stay inside of the shoulders. Power is lost when the elbows get wider than the shoulders. I see this being a problem most often on twisting up to group stunts, such as full ups, and the toss of coed style stunts. Focusing on keeping the elbows as close to the center of the body as possible during stunts will keep the top person’s body better aligned, making the stunts easier to hit.

I’ve heard several coaches emphasize the need to keep elbows in, but probably none more than Tony Crump, current coach at the University of Memphis, and Saleem Habash, former coach of the University of Kentucky and Dunbar High School.

Drills=Skills Show 37 – Gym Safety

Safety is the topic for the 37th Drill=Skills.

Tip: Dynamic Warmup

Debbie Love has been preaching the Dynamic Warmup for as long as I can remember. It’s the idea of moving through positions to stretch and warmup muscles instead of static stretching, which is hitting a position and holding it. Men’s Fitness said a Dynamic Warmup is:

a series of movements designed to increase body temperature, activate the nervous system, increase range of motion, and correct limitations.

A Dynamic Warmup should do a better job of preparing the athletes for practice than a static warmup. It will warmup the muscles without breaking them down, allowing an athlete to perform at a higher level. Here’s an example of one of Debbie’s Dynamic Warmups:

Drills=Skills Show 36 – Mental Prep

Wendy Bruce-Martin returns to the 36th edition of Drill=Skills to discuss Mental Prep with David and Shea.

Tip: Stunts in Pieces

In tumbling it’s pretty standard to break each skill down into parts. The instructors at the USASF regional meetings did a great job of this, pointing out the entry, middle, and exit of each skill. We need to start doing the same things for stunts and developing drills that help with the pieces. The only person I’ve seen really taking this approach is Kenny Feeley.

If we start looking at stunts though the entry, middle, and exit lenses, isolating each part and working on them separately, we’ll probably be able to progress in a safer and faster manner. We should take a stunt like a traditional full up prep and work on the entry, loading in and getting the explosive power up, the middle, the twisting of the top and arm/hand/wrist work of the base, and the end, catching high and absorbing through the legs, as separate pieces.

We can also take pieces from one stunt and apply them to another. For example, I had a guy working on back handspring full ups (which I think twist the wrong way, but I seem to be alone with that thought). He was having a hard time with 2 things, turning his left hand over to catch and catching low with his arms bent. My suggestion to him was to do a couple full up left cupies, spinning left, each day to work on turning his hand around. I also suggested doing Kenny’s drop and lock drill to get used to locking out arms if the stunt isn’t caught with locked arms. Breaking the skill into these parts will allow the guy to get better at the parts he’s struggling with without throwing the hard skill over and over again.

Drills=Skills Show 35 – Basic Elements

The full crew is back together for show 35, discussing basic elements of skills.

Tip: Stretching Before & After

Most coaches know their athletes should stretch before and after practice. It doesn’t always happen, but we at least know it should. What many don’t realize is the stretching should be different before and after a practice or workout.

Stretching before practice is done with the intent of getting your body and muscles ready to perform. The goal is to let you body know it’s time to put on the hard hat and boots and get to work. Stretching after practice is to let your body know it can put away the hard hat and take off the boots and after practice is when you should work on flexibility. Flexibility is improved by a controlled tearing of the muscles that leads to them repairing themselves in a more flexible state. Doing this before practice will prevent the muscles from operating at peak performance.

In practice, this means before practice you should hold each position for a shorter count, like an 8 count, and be more gentle, hitting each position or stretching each muscle multiple times. After practice you can hold each position for a longer count, like a 24 count, and be less gentle because the muscles will have time to recover before needing to be a peak performance again.

This is based on my interpretation of conversations with Debbie Love and a couple others. Debbie would also emphasize the importance of a Dynamic Warmup, which will be covered in a couple weeks.

Drills=Skills Show 34 – Preparation

On the 34th episode of Drills=Skills Shea and Sean discuss preparing for competition.

Tip: 2 Down, 1 Up

When stunting your dips should be 2 counts down and 1 count up. Going slower down will help maintain control over the stunt during the dip. Going faster up will provide the power for the upcoming skill. The ratio of coming up in half the time it took to get down emphasizes that coming up needs to be twice as fast and powerful as dipping down.

I believe Saleem Habash, former coach at the University of Kentucky and Dunbar High School, was the first one to tell me to do this, but several of my coaching friends use it. Kenny Feeley would add the depth of the dip should equal the length from the bases’ wrist to elbow.

Drills=Skills Show 33 – SceneZing

Ben Hazlerig of SceneZing joins the guys on this week’s Drills=Skills.