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Landing and falling; important skills for youth gymnastics

This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Gymnastics by USA Gymnastics.

Landing Properly

Landing properly should be automatic and a natural position for all gymnasts. Proper landing technique helps reduce the forces of landings. Safe landing technique (figure 7.5) includes the following:

1. Knees slightly bent to absorb the impact of landing

  • No straight legs on the landing
  • No squat position on the landing

2. Straight spine to keep the neck stable and prevent falling forward

  • No arch in the lower back
  • No bending forward at the waist

3. Arms extended to the front, straight and level with the heart in order to keep chest up on the landing

Learning How to Fall

Falls are commonplace in the gymnastics environment, especially as athletes learn new skills. Teach your gymnasts how to fall properly by demonstrating and practicing safety rolls. Safety rolls allow gymnasts to absorb the impact of a fall over a greater area of their bodies.

A safety roll, also known as a recovery roll, should be performed if a gymnast is off balance (figure 7.6, a-c). The gymnast should roll in the direction she is traveling—forward or diagonally (shoulder roll), backward, or sideways—instead of trying to immediately stop her momentum.

Tell your gymnasts to do the following when falling:

1. Make fists with the hands.

2. Pull the arms in toward the body and across the chest.

3. Roll in a tucked position.

Note: Rolls can also be done with the arms overhead (i.e., halo shape).

Learn more about Coaching Youth Gymnastics.

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Coaching Youth Gymnastics

Coaching Youth Gymnastics

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After you have successfully taught your gymnasts the fundamentals of a skill, your focus will be on helping them improve the skill. Athletes learn skills and improve on them at different rates, so don’t get frustrated if progress seems slow. Instead, help them improve by shaping their skills and detecting and correcting errors.
These are important drills and progressions leading up to a handspring vault. It is highly recommended that the coach take the gymnast through the proper drills and progressions as stated in this section. Once the gymnast has acquired the basics, she will be ready to begin the next phase of a handspring vault.


Coaching Youth Gymnastics
Featuring more than 600 photos, the book covers the basics of coaching gymnastics in a concise style customized for entry-level gymnastics coaches.
Coaching Youth Gymnastics eBook
Featuring more than 600 photos, the book covers the basics of coaching gymnastics in a concise style customized for entry-level gymnastics coaches.

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