Drills=Skills Show 10 – Coaching Culture

Special guest and former Olympic gymnast, Wendy Bruce-Martin joins the guys to discuss Coaching Culture on the 10th edition of Drills=Skills.

The show will be live on Wednesday at 1pm Eastern.

Sean on Handstand Drills

The handstand by far is the most crucial movement an athlete will learn when starting to tumble. This position will be the foundation of almost every tumbling skill. While learning this movement, conditioning is the most important aspect due to the full body strength and awareness needed to properly perform this skill, so strength is key along with overall flexibility.

When it comes to drills, the benefit comes from knowing how to attack certain key issues. A drill that is beneficial to help athletes feel comfortable upside down is Box Handstand, which takes the weight of the lower body off the athlete’s arms allowing for perfection of upper body positioning, along with alleviating any fears of being inverted.  Wall Crawls is another drill that has dual use, allowing athletes to do a full body conditioning crawl up a wall until the athlete reaches a wall facing handstand.

When an athlete has a good understanding of upper body positioning, I like to then transition into lower body movement that puts them into the full weight bearing skill. Front lever repetition, learning to drive that back heel without breaking the upper body positioning and donkey kicks to levers.

Drills=Skills Show 09 – Classes

This week’s edition of Drills=Skills features Shea, David, and Sean discussing classes.

David on Handstand Technique

I’m sure that everyone out there has at least given a solid effort in attempting to do a handstand. And I’m sure that some of us did them fairly well. But, we all have seen people try this “simple” drill and epically fail.

What I want to do, is give you a few techniques that we should all strive for, so that we can teach our younger kids the most important skill in all of tumbling.

First thing I’m looking for while teaching a handstand is the positioning of the arms, head, shoulders and chest, and lunge positioning. First off, in the lunge, I like my athletes to be in about a 45 degree angle from shoulder to back leg.

I’m also making sure that the athlete’s arms are not just by the head, but behind the ears, so to open the shoulders throughout. This will also help prevent the dropping of arms going into this skill, as well as how we approach cartwheels and round offs.

I’m then making sure that the athletes head position stays neutral throughout this skill. It’s so easy to have your chin raised, while looking for your hands, when reaching into the handstand. This will only cause a slight arch in the back, which is one thing we are really trying to avoid while learning the beginning/foundation skills of tumbling.

Let’s make sure that while we are teaching our fundamentals, that we don’t just pass on by these skills and drills. You ever want to know why a level 5 kid has a bad full? Check out their round off. Ever wonder why their round off isn’t too hot? Check out that handstand.

Drills=Skills Show 08 – Technique

The 8th edition of Drills=Skills is all about technique.

Sean on Standing Tuck Troubleshooting

Having trouble with a standing tuck?

As a coach when I have an athlete having issues with a standing, I look at their physical conditioning. If an athlete can perform a standing tuck with precise technique on apparatuses such as tumble trak or air track, but are having issues on the floor, they have an athletic deficiency in some aspect.

To perform a standing tuck properly, requires an athlete to have many different types of strength and muscular reactions so you want to make sure you train them properly. Explosive hamstrings and glute muscles are absolutely crucial to propelling the athlete off the mat quickly and powerfully, along with creating the “hip lift” movement. Exercises such as box jumps, depth jumps , and broad jumps are some explosive movement exercises that help tremendously.

Moving along the upper body, a strong core to maintain the hollow body position, plank holds, plank ups, and ab roll outs are some things I use to help strengthen the abdominals and the intercostals (rib muscles). In outs with paper plates, and hanging leg raises to activate and isolate the knee drive, which help train the hip flexor which pull the legs up into a tucked position. Finishing off with fast arms, which require fast and flexible shoulders. Front raises and lateral raises with ankle weights around wrists for strength, along with resistance band work goes a long way.

The other part I like to reinforce is the stick. Single leg box jump landing on one leg, keeping it small about 8-12 high. Allowing the calves and ankles isolated training create a strong stable base for landings. Jump squats and lunges are daily to keep the absorbing motion strong and stable.

Drills=Skills Show 07 – Roundoffs

The 7th edition of Drills=Skills featured Shea, David, and Sean discussing roundoffs.

David on Standing Tuck Drills

Standing tucks might just be my favorite skill to teach, but at the same time, can be one of the most taxing skills to get accomplished.

Some of the most common problems I see with standing tucks are the dropping of the chest in the entry, lack of use of the arms, throwing the head back, and heels being driven to the rear, instead of over the head. All of these can be resolved by simple basic drills. Some of these problems can be fixed two or three at a time with one drill. You just have to be patient.

A good drill to start out with is a basic straight jump onto a box mat, or panel mat. Try to encourage the arms being used, and the actual jump into the skill. If your athlete is going into this skill through a good athletic stance, this will help promote going through the right form into the jump, before the tuck.

Another drill I like to use, that also helps condition the athlete’s core, is to stack mats between the lower and midpoint of the athletes back, and then have them jump into a candlestick position, that will tuck at the top. Just make sure that once the athlete is driving their hips through the candlestick position, to drive their shins and toes over their head to hit the tuck position. You’re most common problem with standing tucks would be landing short. If you are able to teach a good shin and toe drive that goes over the head, this will help stop your athlete from landing with too much weight in the front part of their feet. Also, this will save ankles for the long run.

Too often, standing tucks can be the most rushed skill for an athlete to have. Let’s just all take the time to teach them correctly, so we then can be able to teach all the other skills that will come after.

Drills=Skills Show 06 – Handstands

The topic for today’s edition of Drills=Skills is Handstands.

Shea on Standing Tuck Technique

The standing tuck is an equal combination of power and technique, without one the other cannot be accomplished. The proper athletic stance to start allows for the core, glutes and hamstrings to become engaged. Following this position the arms need to lead the body up so I’m often telling my kids to speed up their arms. This allows for explosiveness from the legs all the way through their toes. Kids will often focus on the tuck too early which limits the full use of arms and legs so I like to have them jump into a candlestick position onto a raised surface. The “feel” of the proper explosion onto a raised surface allows the this for the athlete. The lifting of the hips over the shoulders, rather than the shoulders below the hips, is what provides the proper timing for the rotation of the the tuck. The knees should be bent, but not the feet bent to the bottom. As the rotation completes the landing should be that of the chest coming up to allow the feet to come to the floor. Often times the athlete wants to look for the floor and kick out resulting in a short, improper landing. Providing the athlete with a specific place to look at the start and finish of the skill can help their awareness throughout the skill.