Uneven Bars: Double Layout Dismount

Many female gymnasts who struggle with the double layout dismount off of the uneven bars do so because of the timing of their “tap.”  While many coaches have a different interpretations of the “tap,” my definition references the point at which the gymnast transitions from a hollow into an arch position at or nearly underneath the bar.  So, from this point forward, you should know exactly to what I am referencing.

I was bored and decided to analyze a couple of different double layouts.  For the past year or two, Ivana Hong has really struggled a bit with this dismount while Bridget Sloan performs it seemingly effortless.  Therefore, I decided to do a little comparison between the two utilizing their routines from the 2009 VISA Championships.  The videos are below.

First, here’s Bridget.

Next, here’s Ivana.

After stopping the video at several points, the following are the noticeable differences that I found between the two performances.

At approximately 45 degrees below horizontal, let’s look at a comparison between the two.

Ivana Near 45 Degrees Below Horizontal To The Bar

Bridget Near 45 Degrees Below Horizontal To The Bar

Notice here how Ivana has already “opened up” whereas Bridget stays more “hollow.”  By staying in more of a hollow shape, Bridget is able to create more deformation (“bend”) in the bar in my estimation.  This additional “bend” in the bar stores more elastic (strain) energy and contributes to her rotation upon release.

Now, let’s look at the two at a position directly underneath of the bar.

Ivana Underneath of The Bar

Bridget Underneath of the Bar

Notice the “bend” in the bar (a slight bit more for Bridget) as well as the more pronounced arch position as compared to Ivana’s position.  Further, in the next sequence of images, you’ll notice the early “kick” into the double layout for Ivana such that she struggles to make the necessary rotations.

Ivana Past Bottom Of Bar

Now, here’s Bridget.

Bridget Past Bottom Of Bar

Notice how Bridget holds the arch past the bottom and “kicks” later into the double layout and is able to easily complete the rotations.

So, how would I fix Ivana’s double layout dismount?  I would work very hard to get her to hollow the downswing longer, “tap” later, hold the “tap” through the bottom longer, and this would result in a later “kick” into the dismount and probably a more successful performance.

Many men’s coaches who have moved over to coaching women’s gymnastics tend to promote the early tap as the men do.  Unfortunately, the womens’ uneven bar rail is a much different apparatus and women in general, are smaller.  As a result, they are unable to produce the degree of “bend” in the rail as the men do.  This is particularly true when they attempt to perform the early, exaggerated tap that the men do.

If you notice, most of the gymnasts who swing as I am describing are performing full-in or full-out types of dismounts or something completely different such as a double front, for example.  The early, exaggerated “tap” swing mechanics for the women will give you a lot of height, but lacks rotation.  If you want your gymnasts to have a good double layout, I encourage the mechanics that I am suggesting and they will likely be a lot more successful.

Hopefully, this gives you a bit more insight into the double layout dismount from a coaching perspective.  Please feel free to share your insights or any disagreements.

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7 Comments on “Uneven Bars: Double Layout Dismount”

  1. Just Another Opinion Says:

    This was pretty sweet, but one question: Is Bridget bigger than Ivana, and if so, bigger by any amount that would influence this? (In other words, is the a degree to which a small enough girl just couldn’t do a double lay out, no matter how much later the tap?)

  2. Chris Says:

    You make a good point. A couple of things – 1) I pulled these screen shots from the YouTube videos that I posted and therefore the zoom, etc. may have some effect. 2) Bridget does appear to be a stronger gymnast and she may weigh a bit more because of the added muscle, but I doubt it would be significantly different.

  3. Hi

    So i have been thinking about your post Chris. Interesting food for though without a doubt. However i have to say that i don’t believe that the tap to be biggest problem here.
    Let me start from the top.. I agree with you Chris that a more hollow drop/bail from HS does promote more deformation in the bar.. WHY?.. Chris? i will let you answer this one first…
    And an early extension of the does seem promote a earlier tap.. HOWEVER this is not always the case, and its important to consider the athletes physical ability. Samantha Shapiro extends above the low bar..and yet has a very late tap..So i by no means think that there a better technique, i think each one has to be applied where appropriate for each athlete.

    What i believe to be the biggest problem is that actually the release angle and position. Even though both gymnast have similar body positions on release Bridget hips are higher (closer to the vertical, which gives her more height, and time to complete the 2 somersaults, plus it allows her to remain more extend on landing). Ivan releases early and so her hips do not rise as much on release and she travels further, thus its not surprising that she is not able to maintain the her layout.

    Even though the tap does matter, a great deal whats more important is the turnover following the dead vertical under the bar.. A late tap helps to create a better turnover, but it by no means means that its the and and all.

    Personally my ideal would to be hold the hollow till feet pass lowbar, then extended out and the arch is held for es long as possible.. However clearly within this idea (for me) there are is room for variation..however the critical aspects remain the same.

    That is just my 2c on the topic/comparison of the two dismounts.. In simple talk Ivana need to just release a TAD later, or change her technique to aiming to do a hollow double layout, because this way she will be forced to get her kickto turn over more….
    In any case she needs to work on her release point.

    Valentin Uzunov

  4. Fascinating. Excellent post!

  5. After watching the videos a couple more times, I’m inclined to agree with Valentin. The release timing, I think, is what’s giving Hong trouble.

  6. Paul E Says:

    Well as a boys coach who teaches a very aggresive “chinese” tap, I would like to give a little input. Valentin is correct about saying it is the release timing that matters, but much like every other aspect of our sport the error seen is probably a result of something before it. This is one of those cases. I would put all of my resources into teaching a better and longer drag thru the bottom.

    I am going to speak only from a high bar persepctive and I know there are differences, but I cant talk about what I dont know and high bar is what I know. In order to have a strong turnover action immediately before a dismount there needs to be an aggresive drag thru the bottom of the bar. This drag in mens gymnastics is created from an arch that was created by an extreme pike or extreme hollow position prior to the body going into the arch. Individuals start this pike or hollow at different times depending on individual needs. The challenge in teaching this technique is controlling the desire to begin kicking your legs into the dismount prior to holding the arch long enough. The videos clearly show that Bridget was able to hold her arch longer. 90 percent of correction that I make to my boys “who are competing full twisting double layouts, and working 2 twisting double layouts” are about holding the arch thru the bottom longer to generate the turnover action required to have a great dismount.

    So I would argue with Valentin that Bridgets arch or drag phase thru the bottom created a much greater turnover resulting in a better dismount. But not necesarily because she was pike longer. in mens gymnastics as Chris pointed out the idea of a later tap would not be the best solution. Im not saying it is not correct for girls, but if you watched videos, boys begin the arch much earlier. The last thing I would like to add is that the arch should be in the shoulders with the chin up which allows the shoulder to open more. This will be hard for girls as many many girls coaches teach the girls to bury their heads.

    What do I think could be done? (advise coming from a man who has never coached optional girls gymnastics)
    Exactly what Valentin said. Pike or hollow until the feet pass the low bar, then thru a lot of training and understanding of the tap the girl should be able to hold the drag or arch thru her shoulders as long as possible. This will give a sling shot like affect and create a faster rotating, and higher double layout. Upon first trying this the girl will feel the need to begin kicking legs up and release too soon. this is the same for men. I dont think it is because they are unable, just not worked on it long enough.

    I know you are faced with challenges with your low bar. I think with a strong understanding of how it could be done without the low bar you could begin to create the best possible dismount given the obstacle in your way.


  7. Nick Hand Says:

    My opinion on double layouts is that a longer stretch through the bottom is optimal. I feel that the late double layout tap forces the athlete closer to the bar because of the bounce of the bar and changes the center of gravity in the flip. Now his doesn’t really cause a problem in the double layout or a twisting double layout, but if you used this tap in tucked twisting I think that it inhibits the gymnasts ability to complete the twist properly.

    I would have to agree with other posters that the release of the bar is the problem with Ivana’s dismount. I would also say that her lack of a more aggressive shape change (stretch) through the bottom of the swing is also a problem. Lastly it appears that Ivana is lacking in some upper stomach strength, as her shape going into her candle stick appears to pike from the hips instead of hollow from her stomach.

    Really it is Ivana’s complete lack of “toes up” at the end of her tap. She should work much more on standing up out of her tap and flaring out her flip later.

    This is a double lay I am working with one of my athletes. It also has too much pike but she is finishing her tap with her toes up. This athlete also IMO has problems with doing a Sloan type tap (which I don’t like) and we work hard on a longer stretch through the bottom of her swing.

    This is another girl of mine that is able to really crank over the bar, closing in on the boys Chinese tap. She has much better body shape in her candle stick into her release position, no pike, and stretches longer in the double layout.

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