LAST issue covered Body- Extension Twist, and this article will explore a sec-
ond method of initiating twist
after the gymnast is airborne:
By tilting the rotating body
slightly outside the somersault
plane, the gymnast can borrow
a small portion of the already-existing somersault rotation and
convert it into twist rotation. If,
for example, a gymnast wanted
to perform a back layout with a (late) half
twist, when upside-down she would merely
drop one arm sideward while keeping the
other arm overhead. This tilts the body off the
somersault plane, so a portion of its rotation
is transferred into the twist plane.
Also, because twist rotation is easier to
accomplish than somersault rotation, this
technique is particularly useful in multiple
somersault skills wherein no twisting occurs
until after the first somersault.
When using the body-tilt technique, the
twist direction is determined by the somersault direction (forward or backward) and the
side of the body’s radius being shortened (left
or right). For example, if a gymnast naturally
twists left, she would shorten the left side of
her body on backward somersaults (by dropping left arm) and the right side on forward
somersaults (drop right arm).
The illustration below shows a double som-
ersault with a full twist on the second flip.
Note how she opens slightly in (D) and turns
her upper body toward her left. At this point,
the “wrap” action of the arms
about the longitudinal axis of
the body should occur in a
rapid 1-2 sequence. So in figure (E), her left arm will drop
forcefully, just prior to the
right arm doing the same.
Once airborne, the performer can perform the
“wrap” sequence with bent
arms or straight arms. The latter is popular among trampolinists and aerial skiers, who
have much more air time than gymnasts.
1) When used in conjunction with either
the on-ground or body-extension technique, it
serves as an effective supplement to maximize
2) Because one arm remains overhead during the initiation of the twist phase, greater
control can be maintained within the somersault component, which will help control the
1) Without sufficient somersault rotation, it
is virtually ineffective.
2) In single somersaults, it has limited prac-
tical value beyond a full twist.
3) It is not suitable for certain twist move-
ments, such as those in the preflight phases
of many advanced vaults.
Adapted from “Championship Gymnastics” by
Gerald S. George, Ph.D. For more information,
ILLUSTRATION: JAMES STEPHENSON
Early (C-D) and then continuous (E-J) visual contact
with the ground is critical for a controlled landing.
B C D E FGHIJ
Edited by Dwight Normile
PARENTS: What are
YOUR goals for your child
in gymnastics? (And what
are your child’s goals?)
BELOW is a 100-Points Test that both parents and their gymnasts can take sepa- rately, assigning the most points to the
categories that are most important. Each can
also write in his/her own goals if they are missing from this list. The points should add up to
In hundreds of workshops, we have learned
that most parents have similar hopes and goals
for their gymnasts: physical fitness, having fun,
making friends, increased self-confidence and
learning life lessons. One father gave all 100
points to having fun. Many parents resonate
with the goal of learning to deal with defeat
without becoming defeated. Rarely do parents
give many points to winning. In the low-key
atmosphere of a classroom or cafeteria, winning doesn’t get much respect.
But what happens at a competition? All but
one of these items go out the window. Which
one seems to get all 100 points if we look at
the way parents act in the bleachers? This leads
to sheepish expressions because we all have
acted in conflict with our goals and made winning the main goal.
When their child fills out the test, parents
may have some “aha moments.” Most kids say
they want to have fun, make friends and learn
a new sport. This can lead to a wonderful discussion. Parents should ask their children why
they distributed their points a certain way, and
what their goals are. Then really listen.
Become a good gymnast
Learn to do gymnastics
Learn to be a good teammate
Gain increased self-confidence
Learn to deal with defeat
Improve physical fitness
Learn “life lessons”
Make new friends
Earn a college scholarship
Make the Olympic team
Adapted from “Positive Sports Parenting” by Jim
Thompson, founder and executive director of Positive
Coaching Alliance ( www.positivecoach.org).