Casting drills for fear and conditioning

Hi All,

Today I’m giving you a few more cast handstand drills. One of the things I always try to emphasize especially when I do clinics is that no drill is perfect. Our goal as coaches should really be to find the set of drills that does the most good with the least amount of “bad.” It’s also really important to find the set of drills that works for you, your gym and your equipment.

Drills for fear and conditioning in cast handstands

This first drill I like just for it’s value of eliminating fear of the handstand early. With the double bar set-up it’s easy to spot. You can also set this up with two p-bars and a resi mat. A lot of the lack of lean in cast handstands comes from fear and this is a great way to get kids over that early.

This second one is a go-to drill of mine for shoulder development. You can do it on a bar where they can fall forward, on a block like this, or even on a pommel horse (that’s a great use for them). It’s also great for shoot-throughs if you’re having trouble with those.

Train hard!

Quick Tip – Eliminating Back Walkover Fear

Hi All,

Today’s quick tip is my favorite way of eliminating fear in back walkovers. The biggest thing that I find when gymnasts are afraid of their back walkovers is that they aren’t confident in their ability to get their hands on the beam. Really, this often translates to a lack of confidence controlling the first half of the back walkover. They feel like they are just falling onto their hands rather than controlling where they put their hands.

Quick Tip - Eliminating Fear In Back Walkovers

This very simple drill does a lot to help gymnasts feel in control. I’m spotting these, as this was the first time this gymnast had done this drill but after the first few I generally have gymnasts do these by themselves. Another variation of it that I like is to have a gymnast stand on either side of a floor beam (one foot on each side), and then back bend and put their hands on the beam and stand back up. It’s slightly easier, but still does a great job of helping gymnasts get confident in placing their hands.

Big thanks to JAG Gym for hosting this clinic

Swing Big Clinics

Fun Friday #76

Hi All,

I hope you’ve been having a fantastic week, I know I have. I’ve been doing a bunch of Build Your Dream Team sessions this week, and it’s so exciting to hear how people are implementing changes in their programs, and how excited they are to find solutions to things that they’ve been struggling with.

This first video is of a skill I haven’t seen in a while. I think I saw a few elites (can’t remember whom) compete it in the early 2000s, but I haven’t seen it since then. Anyone know someone that has competed it recently?

This second one is a lovely Hopes Optional routine. I think she is from Metroplex. Lovely, lovely lines and presentation. I’m excited to see how she progresses.

Train hard!

Rehab and Prehab – what to focus on with Dr. Dave Tilley

I’m incredibly excited to start a new series on keeping gymnasts healthy with Dr. Dave Tilley. Dr. Dave is a huge asset to the gymnastics community, and I’m happy that he’s sharing his knowledge with us over the coming weeks. Without further adieu, here is Dr. Dave Tilley on what we should be focusing on with rehab and prehab.

First off, I just really wanted to take the time to thank you for the chance to do this interview. Also, the support from readers for the website has been really incredible, and I can’t thank people enough. The last year has been really fun, and I’m happy that the information has helped people out. I have a tendency to get into nerd mode for gymnastics sports medicine concepts, so I’ll try to keep things somewhat short and relevant for these questions.

1) There is so much that coaches can do in terms of rehab/prehab. What should coaches be focused on and why?

I think the biggest point behind why coaches need to create/use an integrated program is because it has a direct effect on both injury risk and maximal performance for the gymnast. Being a former gymnast, and now being a dual coach/PT, my ultimate goal is to minimize injury and maximize performance for my gymnasts. Gymnasts and coaches need to understand that the same mechanical issues that may contribute to an injury also limit the gymnast’s performance. Taking time on pre-hab can not only help the gymnast reduce their injury risk or keep themselves as healthy as possible, but also improve skill work across the board.

Take for example a gymnast who has some issues related to bringing their arms overhead fully overhead (whether it be due to a lack of mobility, a lack of strength/control overhead, or other issues).

Proper Lat Test - Restriction

That lack of ability for the gymnast to get overhead for whatever reason can have a pretty profound influence on different injuries such as:

- Creating a situation where the gymnast has to over extend their lower back and can dangerously load their spine under force, possibly leading to back pain

- It can be one piece of the puzzle leading to certain types of shoulder pain where structures in the shoulder joint take excess ware and tare

- It can also lead to an overload type injury in the elbow/wrist if the gymnast is not properly absorbing force in the shoulders with lots of dynamic weight bearing activities.

On the exact same thought process, that same limitation causing those three possible injury risk profiles is the same thing that limits that gymnast from getting into a fully extended bridge position. This can lead to a gymnast struggling with extending based skills all over. We may see some “cheerio” type back handsprings, tumbling that seems to not have good power, problems with long hang skills on bars, and so on. As we all know, those basics that are missing only get engrained into higher-level skills. So, those same struggles may create problems down the road when we start looking at needing high power tumbling for double backs/double fulls, when we need power generation or extension for bigger release moves like Tkachevs, and so on.

Handstand Wrist Ext ROM

As you might be able to tell, some pre-hab work for mobility may help clear up some of the tightness and as a result, helping both categories. If you can adopt that philosophy to everything, you’ll see the importance of pre-hab.

On that idea, I have to make a clear point with re-hab/pre-hab terms. Rehabilitation more specifically deals with injuries or someone in pain, and I can’t stress enough that coaches/gymnasts shouldn’t be dealing with this phase of the injury. That’s really only for a trained medical professional to take care of, because pain changes everything and there are also a hundred different reasons a gymnast could be getting pain. A trained eye has to take someone through an assessment to get to the real issue, along with proper medical screening to rule out more serious issues. Coaches/gymnasts have a huge role in the preventative rehabilitation and early screening side. I also definitely encourage them to work hand in hand with medical professionals to know where they may be coming from in the rehab department. Think about how it feels when parents may over coach the gymnast and it might make you frustrated. The same goes for trying to take the rehab role as a coach. In terms of what to focus on, I’ll get that one in the next question.

Here are some links to articles I have written on the pre-hab model concept, and how to go about it.

Blog Articles:

Creating An Integrated Gymnastics Pre-Hab/Injury Management Model For Your Gym – What It Is, and Why It’s Important

Also here is a podcast interview Dr. Josh Eldridge and I did related to pre-hab and some other ideas.

Dr. David Tilley and Pre-Hab For Gymansts
Taking Care of Business Part 1
Taking Care of Business Part 2

If you have any questions for Dr. Dave drop him an email at –

Cartwheel drills from Gymneo TV

Hi All,

Just one video today. But it’s a great one from Gymneo TV. You may remember some of the stuff they’ve put out in French, but they’re now also putting out stuff in English. This is a really nice video of lots of cartwheel drills you can do – obviously a lot of us don’t have all of the same equipment shown in these videos but a lot of the drills are easily modified using equipment we may already have. There are lots of drills for the beginning kick, but if you want to skip to the meat of the cartwheel start the video around 5:55.

Cartwheel drills from Gymneo TV

There are lots of good drills in this video but I have a few favorites. Bent leg lever holds on stall bars (shown at 6:00), straddle flat body holds between objects – forward and backward (shown at 11:40) and levers on both sides (shown at 14:01). I find that a lot of issues at the end of the cartwheel actually come from gymnasts never having been taught to lever on their “bad” side.

Train hard!