There is still too little agreement on how to choose twisting direction for gymnasts just learning to twist.Â Just so we know the methods I advocate and what I teach are not theoretical, I have had 5 girls out of a 40 girl team doing triple fulls on floor including some young Level 8s. In the same year every Level 8 was doing at least double full on floor and every girl on the team, including Level 5’s were doing fulls on tramp, rod floor and/or floor. I have never had any problems teaching and coaching multiple twisting. Somewhat separate topics but have also successfully taught and coached full-ins, double-doubles, and full-outs.
We Leave It to Others to Debate. We Already Have a Successful System that Works
Twisting is an area of considerable confusion and debate. While we donâ€™t expect to win the debate we hope to eliminate some of the confusion. Again, we have seen coaches pick twisting direction for their tumblers in a wide variety of ways. Some coaches are rather casual about the decision and just ask a gymnast to jump and turn around. Some check the direction a gymnast does their step full turn (the dance skill) on floor. Some coaches look at current good twisters and apply their individual situation to all their gymnasts. We have even seen a coach who taught all his gymnasts to twist left because that was the only way he could spot. And some coaches are very serious about how twisting direction should be decided and which way they believe is the right way to twist.
Humans and Gymnasts are Infinitely Variable
Everyone, including me, should first acknowledge that there are successfull Elite gymnasts twisting in all of the possible variations of ways. Eye dominance, handedness, left or right-brained, strong or weak corpus collosum right – left brain communication, foot dominance, kinesthetic skill feelings all may or do affect twisting direction dominance. As I have also stated, having a training system is often more important than what the system actually is. Gymnasts have made Elite with a wide variety of systems.
Twisting is as Complex as the Human Brain
The problem in determining twisting is the interweaving complexity of physical factors, handedness and brain side dominance. Statistical analysis has revealed no clear pattern or key which can be used to predict twisting direction. There are successful twisters of all kinds and who twist in completely different directions given the same physical similarities.
The Round-Off Determinant
Our absolute go-to choice for method of choosing twisting direction is the twisting direction of the round-off. The round-off is a sufficiently complex skill for gymnasts to have a definite preference and can determine both front and back twisting direction. Is there is ever a problem with gymnasts not knowing their good side round-off from their bad? Really, I have never seen that. Every gymnast who is ready to twist already knows which way they round-off. Proper progression means choosing somersaulting twisting direction before we teach a round-off. Really? Round-off dominance choice seems to be way more valid and powerful than rolling or running around on the floor, jump turns or any other choice method like those.
Barani = Round-Off Determinant
For front twisting, a barani is just simply an aerial version of a round-off and the twisting direction should be the same. And it is definitely good practice to twist the same direction both backwards and forwards. Barani is a round-off with no hands. What makes them so similar? Because both skills are 1/4 in, 1/4 out twisting skills. Makes no sense for a gymnast’s barani to be a different twisting direction than their round-off. I know the Canadians think they can choose twisting direction early. Asking very young, impressionable gymnasts to chose their career long twisting direction by jumping and turning. They will be responding with their conscious mind, when it is actually their subconscious mind that performs all physical movement. Do we have any solid scientific research on whether anything works better than using “natural” round-off twisting direction?
The Jump Full Turn Test
Testing for full turn or jump turn direction might possibly have its only validity in gymnasts experienced enough to recognize which direction they feel most comfortable. The problem is still that young gymnasts may not recognize which direction is best for them due to a lack of experience and youth. Testing both the jump full turn twisting direction and the step full turn twisting direction gives more data. If in both cases the direction is the same, well that definitely creates some credibility. But none of that really significantly changes the natural dominance of round offs as a determinant.
Early and Late Twisting Can/Should be Done Differently
Early twisting direction has to be the same as late twisting direction. If you are leaned forward and twist off the floor that takeoff is the significantly the same as your takeoff for front tumbling and it makes no sense for that twisting direction to be different. This is a relatively obvious safety issue. It is likely that gymnasts at some time or another will either accidentally late or early twist. If the twisting direction in not the same, they may get lost and risk injury.
Should Modify Twisting by Doing Early or Late Twisting
For safety and fast learning progression, I am an absolute late twisting advocate, but I cannot advocate for ignoring the possibility that a gymnast will or will have to twist early and if coaches have tried to modify twisting by forcing them to change with early/late twisting, they will have no experience twisting that direction and will not be safely prepared for it. Trying to teach a gymnast to do their barani or fool them into doing it a different twisting direction by using late twisting. And what happens if you try to teach them a skill where you have to twist early, like a half-in back out? With a full?
Make the Wrong Twisting Choice and Suffer the Consequences
There are many advanced skills that have twisting direction choice ramifications. Skills like Arabian double front – twist one direction going into Arabian back twisting direction and then barani out twisting in the other direction. I think not. 1&1/2 and 2&1/2 twisting step-outs going into a round-off that twists the other direction – problem. Virtually any double somersaulting skill on any event that twists in and out will be affected. Understand What your Choice Means for Your Choice of Skills
Don’t Try/Bother to Change Long-Established Twisting Habits
In spite of how persuasive our justifications for choice of twisting direction are, we cannot advocate that anyone who has already established their full twisting direction attempt to change the direction of their twist at this point. Changing habits simply takes too much time and work and you may not end up any better twister after the change, anyway.