Is there a right/wrong way to teach a hurdle into a roundoff? I don’t know if I could legitimately say that there is a wrong way to teach any skill, but the most productive way that I’ve seen taught and used, is hurdling in a tight “touchdown”, or another “Shea technique” that was taught to me this past summer, was how to lift the arms behind the ears while clasping the hands at the top of the hurdle. These two techniques really helps an athlete to reach, instead of drop arms into a roundoff. Most of your running tumbling will start with this skill. So, if this isn’t a strong skill of yours, the following skills will more than likely suffer.
What is the proper lunge and leg positioning? Most common problems with this is a short lunge, or a deep lunge into the roundoff. I also am seeing athletes who will cross their lead leg over their back leg while trying to push into a roundoff. All of these cause short and crooked roundoffs which then turns into less power into the skill, and less effective power into their connecting skill. An easy fix to this that I have just started to use myself, is to lead with the toe, and not knee into the athletes roundoff. This forces a stronger lunge, which in turn promotes a better push and reach into this skill.
Hand placement in the skill? This is one of the many debates of roundoffs. Is there a right or wrong way to teach an athlete to place their hands in this skill? Not really sure, but I will tell you what has worked for me. What I have always taught, and a great example that was explained to me one day by my boss, who just so happens to be a genius with analogies. She says it’s like parking a car in the garage. So, if your athlete is doing a left roundoff, I teach to reach into the skill, while left hand’s (the garage) fingers are pointing towards the left, and then to bring the right hand (the car) over the top while pointing right hands fingers towards the separation of the index finger and thumb of left hand. The right hand coming over the top of the left should help to get the hips rotated through this skill.
Often times when dealing with the roundoff a few issues are getting feet together fast enough to allow for blocking as well as pushing through toes from each foot. A few drills to help with getting feet together faster.
- Roundoff to push up shape. I like to introduce this from a lung with landing onto a soft surface. Once the hands touch the floor they stay there and I tell my kids I want to “hear” their feet clap.
- Roundoff up a wedge mat. This will allow the athlete to feel their improper landings. In order to rebound up and back they have to get their feet together quickly.
Pushing through toes is a concept that takes time so it’s important to be patient and try several drills to see what clicks with the individual. Here are a few things I like to do.
- I like to have the athlete start with their good leg knee down on the floor, hands back. Athlete will stand up on their bad leg and push through their toes into a proper lunge and complete the roundoff.
- Another popular one is to start standing with good leg lifted off of the ground, toe slightly in front. I ask the athlete to hop (preferably punch) off of the other leg as far as they can 3 times and then roundoff. This helps engage the hips and forces them to push through their toes. Watch for turning as sometimes athlete feel the need to wind up but it’s important to stay square.
There are many variations of these drills as well as ways to combine them and challenge your athletes.
There are a couple different variances in roundoff technique just like with any other skill. The main principle no matter what the technique is to efficiently change athlete from using forward facing momentum to backward so they can go up or back depending on the desired angle of trajectory.
You’ll find the hurdle and lunge entry technique typically stays the same. We have all been taught to have a straight body line, strong deep lunge, with a big heel drive. The most underrated and under worked part of the roundoff in my opinion is the block. Strong block through the shoulders allows for better height and control of the ending portion of the roundoff.
Most of the time, your roundoff will go into a backwards skill (like a back handspring, or whip) the ending of that roundoff should over rotate so that we can get the feet in front for a more efficient punch into the back handspring . The ending of the roundoff and position of arms can vary depending on the skill that is being thrown after the roundoff. Always do your own research and find what works for you and your athletes.
Priority is to always make sure that you or your athletes are conditioned, and technically sound in basic tumbling movements, before progressing to harder skills.
The 7th edition of Drills=Skills featured Shea, David, and Sean discussing roundoffs.