Basics, Basics, Basics!!! Training the Front Handspring on Floor – Part II
So, here is the 2nd part of Training a Front Handspring on floor:
***Please note that a lot of these drills are done with front handspring step-outs, and while the gymnast may sometimes tend to land behind her foot and create a little lower back arch (something we do other drills for as well), I believe that the real danger to the back is not necessarily in the arching of the lower back (we still try to avoid this), as much as it is in the impact of landing in this position on two feet at full speed. I would love for my gymnasts to do these drills with less lower back arch, but we are still working toward making that better with these girls through spotting of these drills, CONDITIONING, other drills that are not shown, such as flysprings, etc., and through better flexibility. Remember also, that these drills are shown to give you some ideas on how to help your athletes’ front handsprings, and that we do not just do hundreds of these on a daily basis.***
THE LEVER ACTION: This is a big key to all tumbling, as this lever is what generates rotation and results in the body finishing past vertical, leading to momentum in the direction of the tumbling pass. Many, many gymnasts struggle with their tumbling passes, because they land their front handsprings behind their feet, simply because of the lack of this lever action, or the “stopping” of the lever action before the rotation is initiated fully. There are some lever drills on my “Handstand” post. Here is one of the drills we use to try and increase the speed of this action:
The goal in this drill is for the gymnast to place her fingertips as close to the edge of the carpet square as possible and then try and get her foot to land as close to the carpet square as possible. This is done by kicking the back leg through as aggressively as possible.
THE PUSH OF THE FRONT LEG: This is definitely one of the most over-looked parts of tumbling. So many gymnasts do not really understand the importance of this “lunge” leg. All we have to do is think of this scenario, and we can get a much better understanding of the necessity of the front leg push: A gymnast kicks the back leg as hard as she can over the top of a front handspring, but does not use the “lunge” leg at all. What this leads to is a lack of rise of the center of gravity requiring the gymnast to bend her arms in the round-off or front handspring. The second problem in this scenario is the loss of forward momentum, and the resulting “circling” action of that skill. It almost changes the momentum to retreat toward where the athlete started, as a kind of “undercutting” situation.
So, we have to make sure that we are working drills toward maximizing this action of the front leg. One way to develop this push of the front leg is a drill involving jumping across the floor with the lunge leg (do both to keep a good balance in strength in the legs) while holding on to a partner’s hands. Below are some gymnasts doing some of these (this was very new for these particular gymnasts) and another drill that I have found effective:
Another drill that we have found particularly effective is doing front handspring step-outs and cartwheel step-ins from the knee. This creates a situation where the gymnast must “stand up” using the front leg to make this skill. Here are some girls doing that drill:
Watch for Part III in this series, which will cover the “Block off of the hands”, and the “Finish” of the Front Handspring on floor.