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Shaping Skills with Drills

by coach Rick McCharles
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Bars — introducing “cast to handstand”

Getting to handstand on bars is a physical, technical & psychological challenge for young gymnasts. It is a key skill.

I prefer piked straddled casts, especially for beginners.

My favourite drills include:

  • handstand pirouettes on a floor bar
  • bounce to handstand on low bar from a mini-tramp
  • jump to handstand from piked straddled stand on a low floor bar
  • cast to piked, straddled stand on boxes. Then jump to handstand (as shown in the photos below).
2 sets of boxes with a space between only wide enough for the hips to fit.
Cast to stand with a foot on each box, feet as narrow and as close to the bar as possible.
Jump (like a “press”) to handstand. Stretch shoulders completely as shown. Handspring to land on feet on soft mats behind the low bar.

Kids love these drills. They require no spotting. They inflict no “rips” on the skin of the hands. And they work.

Kids soon learn they can easily get to handstand if they put their hips (centre of gravity) over the bar quickly.

Many times I have seen beginners of average ability achieve handstand using only these drills. Especially girls with good flexibility.

The last progression I call “touch and go” — the same drill as shown but without boxes. The feet jump from the bar instead. This ensures the gymnast takes as much advantage of hip flexion as possible.

Photos Rick McCharles, Christchurch School of Gymnastics, New Zealand. Two sets of boxes are used though only one can be seen.

Rick McCharles is a career coach from Calgary, Canada. He edits the coaching website.

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This page last modified Monday, April 3, 2006