Stalders from the beginning

Today I wanted to go through the step by step process of building a stalder. There are so many ways of building this skill, but I wanted to provide some really solid building blocks.

First the picture below: it isn’t perfect, but it’s a drill I start with my littles for so many reasons – presses, stalders, cast handstands etc. For a stalder I would like her legs in just a little closer, but for as young as she is – I love that she’s getting the shape and it will only get better with time. It’s also an easy side station to add in to bars – especially if you need some variations in your handstands.

Strap sole circles: Before really starting stalder work I want gymnasts to be super confident with sole circles on strap bar. Make sure when you start the bar is low JUST IN CASE their feet slip through, but make sure to explain that skinning the cat is never what you want to end up doing on strap bar. But after a few months of them playing with these – they’ll get bored and I’ll start letting them move on to the next progressions.

Creating compression: Conditioning for stalders is SUPER important – important enough that I wouldn’t actually put this in your bars rotation, I would add it to your warm-up so that you are doing it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Stalder swings: Stalder swings on strap are fun – the biggest things that you want to watch for are that their legs are getting back and compressed (they should be parallel to the floor when the gymnast is under the bar) – and also that the gymnasts head is neutral to maybe SLIGHTLY in – but mostly neutral. This is where that smaller straddle comes in – I always ask that they squeeze their elbows with their legs.


Sole circle to mini stalder/variations: This is where the kids can start having some fun. They can vary between straddle sole circles, baby stalders etc. The nice thing about this drill is it teaches the gymnasts how to pull their legs back behind them and compress. Some gymnasts don’t get in quick enough – or at all.

This second video has a lot of similar drills as above (all good) – but it also has on of my favorites which is straddle sole circles while taking one foot off the bar. It’s fun for the kids, helps them focus on straightening the leg and STARTING to feel the stalder, but they’ve also got the security of having another foot on the bar. 
Mini stalders: Once gymnasts start getting confident and understand the mechanics of the skill – stopping at mini stalders for a while until their shaping is really, on point is a great thing to do. Especially with so many skills coming from a stalder base now, it’s so important that all of their shaping is correct and this is a great place to do it. If you want to see my Bars Shaping from Pre-Team Up lecture from Congress you can find it HERE. It really, really emphasizes how to get that beautiful and functional hollow chest – and has dozens of drills and things you can do to lead up to this type of work. Again the link is here.

Learning to finish the stalder: And last but not least finishing the stalder – this is a nice drill to do it with – and can also be done unspotted, but especially trying to make sure that as the hips and shoulders open – the chest doesn’t.

Video Credits: (1) Gymnastics Tutorials (2-4) Nick Blanton for Gymnastics Ontario (5) Ben Tobler (6) Zach Crumpton (7) Daniel McCarty (8) Erika Keener

Find my lecture from Congress on Bars Shaping from Pre-Team Up here! It’s 45 minutes, and you get the powerpoint, all the videos and the video of me showing things that aren’t in the powerpoint with live demonstrators!

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