I’ve talked about this before, but with summer and new skills and all of the excitement that comes with these things I think this is a truly important point to re-iterate. And that is, when do we put skills on the beam. Generally, my rule of thumb is when they can do it UP. And not just do the skill up onto something, but do the skill WELL up onto something. There may be some exceptions to this. You may never get a great standing back 1/1 up to a panel mat. But it’s a good rule to go by. There are a number of reasons that I use this rule, but it has a lot to do with both injuries and fear.
Especially with back handsprings if gymnasts don’t have an adequate jump, and if they have a shoulder angle etc. The load that their wrists take is enormous. This leads to avoidable injuries. So until they can backhandspring onto a panel mat with straight arms and legs, and minimal shoulder angle, I don’t want it going on the beam. Now, there are some that argue that they want kids to gain confidence with things like that early. And to some extent I agree. But especially with back handsprings I would be spotting if you can’t be sure their wrists aren’t taking too much weight.
The other reason for doing skills up is confidence. If gymnasts know they can do drills up onto a higher surface, they are more focused on form and technique and less on “am I going to make this skill around?” When you add the “am I going to make this around?” factor, gymnasts often get hesitent, things start to go wrong, and bad habits develop. This is a video of where I like to start with back tuck dismounts, then add another 8″ to this and have them do it to that before putting it on the high beam.
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