More precisely, all you need for a decent Level 9, Level 10 and even Elite optional bar routine are a number of circling skills with pirouettes, a salto release, a low to high bar release, a high to low bar release and Love (according to the Beatles). More salto releases, especially in combination and an original skill would make a bar routine more ideal, but for a decent routine, you can use circling skills with pirouetting to get your difficulty and bonus.
Free Hips, Toe-Ons and Front and Back Stalders
Free hip circles and back giants are the most common circling skills gymnasts use. Free hips are in the USAG Compulsories, which is the reason they are so prevalent. Back giants are the most common skill taught by coaches next. Unfortunately, too many coaches do not start teaching front giants, toe-ons, and front and back stalder progressions and skills soon enough.
Do All the Circling Basics from the Beginning
Gymnasts should be doing the basic progressions for all the circling skills, from as early in their career as they begin to learn back hip circles and baby giants. Sole circles and stalder circles are much harder skills to learn for most beginner gymnasts, than back hip circles, but that is the very reason you should be starting work on them early.
Circling Progression Skills
- Back Hip Circles
- Back Sole Circles
- Back Stoop Circles
- Back Seat Circles
- Front Seat Circles
- Back Stalder Circles
- Front Stalder Circles
All these skills are, probably, best learned them on the strap bar.
Floor Bar Pirouettes
Since each 1/2 pirouette you add to a circling skill adds another level of difficulty, mastering 1/2, full and 1&1/2 pirouettes (starting on a floor bar) is also a bar training priority. Once you master all these pirouettes, you can add them to any or all of the circling skills you have learned, and have plenty of different, high difficulty skills to gather bonus points and difficulty.
Circling Skills Also Basis for Release Move Variety
These circling skills above can also be used as the entries into a variety of salto release moves. For example, Tkatchev-like salto release moves can be done, not just from back giants, but from toe-ons and stalders, as well. The same salto release (Tkatchev) can be done from a different circling skill entry, which through the process of global learning, should speed the learning of multiple release moves.
Circles, Pirouettes and Releases
By adding in what pirouettes you have mastered and combining them with a variety of the circling skills that you do best, you can put together an impressive list of bar routine skills, that can potentially be mastered, developed and combined to put together a high difficulty bar routine. Add release moves to that combination and you have all the elements of a successful high level optional bar routine.
Why Learn All the Circles?
Toe-ons are a more popular way to get into a Tkatchev than giants, because, for most gymnasts, they are more consistent for the entry into and the flight of the release move, which is very critical. So using the toe-on gives gymnasts better control of the speed and the power to consistently make Tkatchevs, but they can’t do that if they never learned sole circles. Learning a variety of circling skills gives you better release move and pirouetting options.
So This Is It
So, the development of a great bar routine really can come from primarily just learning a variety of circling skills (and using which ones are easiest for you), mastering pirouettes, and that is enough to put together a good high level optional bar routine. Putting together a variety of circles, adding full and 1&1/2 pirouettes, adding salto release move(s) and putting together combinations of release moves can give you a World class bar routine. So early learning of all the circling skills and pirouettes should be a high priority for the gymnast who aspires to develop a strong optional bar routine.
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