Well, we haven’t had anyone chime in on this yet, so I will give you my ideas for the causes and solution to this fairly common problem with twisting.
So, to start out, let’s figure out what causes this symptom. This is a good example, in my opinion, because it is a classic case of what I want to address with these “Cause and Effect” scenarios. I think that it is very common that coaches and athletes with limited experience may look at this much differently than coaches and athletes with more experience. In my explanation of this error, I am going to address a back tuck with a half that is done late in the flip. There is a whole different dynamic to a standing Arabian (1/2 turn to front tuck), and if someone wants more information on that, then they can comment, and I will respond along with anyone else that has thoughts on that.
I am going to begin by addressing the most likely cause, in my experience, and then I will move to what I consider a less likely, but still possible cause.
In a back tuck with a 1/2 turn, it is easy to assume that, “If I can do a good standing back tuck and make it every time, then falling on my butt when adding a half must mean that the half is causing me problems.” On the contrary, I believe that it is the standing tuck that is the true cause of this problem, and to be more specific, it is a case of “adding the cart before the horse”.
There are a few scientific principles at work here, but the one that is most appropriate is that “a body in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force”. Since we are assuming that no one is kicking you in the middle of the flip, and twisting is an “internal” force, we can be assured that the act of twisting itself, cannot change our pattern of flight. In other words, twisting alone, cannot “knock” someone out of the air.
What this really (usually) comes down to is the fact that the athlete does not initiate (or finish the act of) hip rotation in the flip before beginning to twist. The athlete, when adding this twist, will usually “get ahead” of herself and put the majority of her focus on the twist, and therefore, not do the same back tuck that she has been consistently (we hope) doing already. Because she does not initiate this rotation, the skill itself is destined to be under-rotated before even getting to the twist. I always tell my athletes when this problem occurs on any kind of twisting, that, if they had not twisted at all with that rotation, they still would have landed on their hands and knees. This usually makes sense to them, and can sometimes be enough to solve the problem.
If it does not solve the problem, then I take them back to the core skill (in this case a standing back tuck), and have them work on doing it with a little bit of over-rotation or up to a panel mat, etc. Please take note, though, that I am not talking about tumbling and certain other aspects of twisting. This is not necessarily the appropriate action for those situations due to other variables, including angles of take-off and the increase of rotation due to the shortening of the body when twisting, etc. Those are things for later subjects probably, but in the standing back tuck scenario, I find that when the athlete reminds her body of this act of rotation, she will tend to initiate it more fully prior to adding the twist.
Another option for solving the problem (and I use this method for everything from tucked and piked or laid out and twisting yurchenkos to fulls on floor to release moves on bars) is to go back and forth between the core skill and the new skill. The ratio can start at somewhere around 3:1 and then work toward 1:1 and then to just the new skill. In other words, I would have them do 3 standing back tucks (most likely up to a panel mat or trapezoid block) and then 1 back tuck with a 1/2 (to the resi probably). In this type of training, I only lower the ratios if the athlete starts having success with the new skill (usually making 3 or 4 in a row first). If an athlete can do the back tuck to a panel mat and has done some work on twisting drills, then this should work at some point, unless she has a 2nd possible problem.
This 2nd possible problem is that the athlete is initiating rotation at the beginning (and this takes a lot of experience to be able to identify as a coach), but she “opens up” her body or comes out of the tuck position when she initiates the twist, which effectively stops the rotation that she had started earlier. The reason for this, usually, is that the athlete is a little disoriented and trying to stand up the skill unaware of where she is. This does happen, but I would caution that it is the easier answer, in my opinion. It is the equivalent of an untrained eye assessing a double back tuck that under-rotates, and then telling the athlete to pull harder. In my opinion, if you watch 20 athletes under-rotate a double back, maybe 1 or 2 of them need to “pull harder”. The rest of them are committing errors way before that, and “pulling harder” would be like putting a band-aid around a dismembered finger. The symptom is corrected, i.e. the finger may stay on, but the person won’t be using the finger anymore unless there is surgery done to re-attach it.
But I digress. One solution to the “opening up” scenario is to have the athlete do the skill into the pit, and stress to her to stay in the tuck shape when she twists. This way, the athlete doesn’t have to worry about standing the skill up and can focus on the other things that are going to lead to success. Another option is to do the skill off of the end of the tumble-trak or on the trampoline or off of a springboard or mini-tramp to give more air time, and thereby more confidence, so the athlete doesn’t feel the need to open up out of the tuck shape.
I really hope this has been helpful. I assure you that these are just things that have worked for me, and though I may sound very confident about what I am saying, I promise all of you that I am the type of coach who would change drills or training tomorrow if I found a better way. So, please, add your opinions to this blog, as I am always interested in learning more. Thanks again, Valentin for your help in kicking off this idea.