Back Handspring Series on Beam

Subject: Backspring connections on beam

Sex: female
Age: 15
Gymnastics Level: Provincial 4

Hey Coach,
I’m working on getting backspring backspring connection on beam, that is actually connected. I have competed backsprings for the past couple of years on beam but have not quite been able to connect them. I taught myself not to swing my arms into them, but I can’t stop taking the pause in between the backsprings. I was wondering if you had any tips on how to complete the connection properly and slowing down the first backspring so the connection is easier. If you know any drills that I can do as well, would be extremely helpful.
Thank you,
Danika

Your questions about back handspring beam tumbling series certainly highlights one of the critical steps in gymnastics for upcoming optional gymnasts. It is one of the major landmarks on beam for optional gymnasts. It is also a source of problems for a great many gymnasts. Mastery of any skill or combination on beam is critical. It is not just enough to do skills on beam, but they must be done correctly and consistently for safety and success.

Strategies, Prerequisites and Progressions

There are numerous strategies, prerequisites and progressions to successfully learning a back handspring beam series. Many of them should have been mastered years earlier in a gymnast’s career, but regardless, need to be mastered before successful back handspring series (and more difficult series) can be mastered consistently

Proper Step-Down

One of the most common errors on series skills is the lack of a proper step-down. Gymnasts should have been stepping down, with their first foot in very close to their hands, to make it quicker, easier and smoother to lift their chest (with a perfectly straight body line) into the second skill in any series.

Equipment Progression

It is my firm belief that complete mastery of beam skills, especially tumbling, should be almost exclusively done on a line on the floor and a foam floor beam, before any coach or gymnast even begins to think about moving them up to a higher beam.

Arm Angle

One of the major problems, that many gymnasts have that make them less confident (and rightly so) doing back handsprings and series, is that they have a broken arm angle. This has them end up doing an incorrect back handspring technique I call a “planche spring.”

Rotate the Handspring

Beam tumbling should land lightly on both the hands and the feet. Too many gymnasts land on their hands in handsprings on beam, short of rotation, with their entire weight coming down on their hands on the beam. The handspring should be “over-jumped” so the majority of a gymnasts weight and center of gravity are past their hands at the moment they touch the beam. This makes the landing much lighter on the hands and that’s a good thing.

Skill Progressions

The obvious first progression for the back handspring, back handspring series is totally mastering single back handsprings. There are numerous series progressions that can be done to ease into the back handspring, back handspring series which include combinations like:

  • Scale, step-down, back handspring
  • Handstand step-down, back handspring
  • Back walkover, back handspring

Slowing Down the First Skill in the Series

One of the techniques many gymnasts find useful in learning a series on beam is to slow down the first skill in the series (by landing in a scale and stepping down slowly or by “squatting” to slow down the connection. This is not my favorite strategy, because I believe complete confidence in a medium controlled connection speed should be learned. But gymnasts should definitely learn to control (and vary) the speed with which they do the series.

No Arm Swing

You have already learned to do back handsprings without swinging your arms (holding them up during the whole skill), which is definitely one step in mastering back handsprings. That should make it easier to learn to connect the second back handspring.

Overtraining

True master of back handsprings and back handspring series includes mastering things like:

  • One-arm back handsprings
  • High back handsprings
  • Step-out and two foot landing back handsprings
  • Low-high, high-high and low-low back handspring series

Good luck!

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