Front Handspring Vault – Head Position?


Since so many folks are responding to Troy’s request for an intense front handspring discussion, I figured that I’d spur on the discussion a little bit.

So, here’s a topic of debate that I have had with several coaches.  What do YOU feel is the appropriate head position when first contacting the table?

In?  Slightly Out?

My position –

It should be slightly out (ears uncovered) with eyes focused on the hands.

I feel that the anatomical movements associated with “blocking” are a well-timed combination of an opening of the shoulders (shoulder flexion) coupled with a very quick, reactive “shrug” (shoulder girdle elevation).  Essentially, this allows the gymnast to “bump” or “bounce” off of the table assuming they have contacted at the appropriate angle.

Following the “block,” the opening of the shoulders will automatically move the arms beside the ears and put the head in a neutral position and in line with the rest of the body.

If the head is already “in” upon contact, the arms are already in full 180 degrees of flexion.  So, how can the athlete initiate any shoulder flexion upon contact?  Furthermore, most athletes try to “pull” the head in and end up tucking their chin to their chest and this creates an opposite reaction at the feet.  So, they end up sort of counter-rotating.

The argument that I receive usually has absolutely nothing to do with anatomy, mechanics, etc.  It’s usually this –

“Well, the judges in this state want to see the head in between the arms…etc…etc…”

So, needless to say, the kids of coaches who use this argument are usually “rolling” over the table.

So, now I’ve started the discussion – it’s your turn to chime in with your thoughts 🙂

Explore posts in the same categories: Training, Vault

3 Comments on “Front Handspring Vault – Head Position?”

  1. Agreed completely. “Get your head in on your vault” is one of my biggest pet peeves ever.

  2. Valentin Says:

    yes i have to say that i agree with the head being slightly out method is an effective method. However that assumes the athlete is actually strong enough to handle this. I tend to not emphasise block, and rather turn over. Given the body is tight enough on entry with very fast turn over and a correct angle of entry suitable for the speed of turnover..then i would want to see a natural head position, because then the gymnast only has to as you say just block (Shoulder girde elevation)..

    However this is based primarily on a lot of other factors. I would encourage the head out technique described for more mature, and experience athletes personally.

    Valentin Uzunov

  3. Yes, yes, 100 times yes.

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