Subject: Yurchenko Vault
I had a question about teaching Yurchenko vaults.
I have been coaching for ten years and I am a member of the Elite Coaching Association. – I have learned through videos, articles, & clinics how to teach this vault. Most of the literature I have read has said this vault (with the new table) is the vault of the ‘future.’ Also, watching a lot of college meets I have noticed more gymnasts performing this vault.
My girls have spent a lot of time drilling this vault. They did round-off drills to the board, drills onto stacked mats & onto the trapezoid, & Yurchenkos into the pit. I would love to see what information you have on this topic & what you feel about teaching & competing this vault. As any coach I always think about safety first & I want to make sure I have all the information that is available.
McKayla Maroney Sticking Amanar (2&1/2 Twisting Yurchenko) Vault
The Yurchenko vault is now legal for Level 8 and up gymnasts in the U.S. which we discussed in the article “Yurchenko Vaults – Not the Way to Do It.”
Twisting Yurchenko Vaults are Now the Standard for Women
This is not the vault of the future. It is the vault of the present. A double twisting Yurchenko is just about the standard International vault and has been for a number of years.
This Vault Requires More Than One Summer of Training
USA Gymnastics used to restrict the vault from anyone lower than Level 10. They now allow it for Level 8 and up. We never believed that restricting the vault was a good idea and we always began teaching progressions for Yurchenko vaults for all of our gymnasts as soon as they began working on Optionals.
Safety and Success with This Vault Require Making It a Habit
We do believe that the vault (along with many other skills) can be potentially dangerous. We therefore like to have the gymnasts work just the front side of the vault for at least a year before we have them turn it over. We want them to be thoroughly comfortable with doing the front side onto-the-horse action and have mastered the front side and block, to the point that it is a reflex memory muscle movement.
Real Proper Progression Means Train All Vault Front Sides Thoroughly
We always thought it was more dangerous to have gymnasts never work the vault at all and then try to learn and master it in one off-season (in as little as three to five months) when they get to Level 10. We start the early progressions (board work, Round-off layouts, etc.) along with all of the other vault front sides – handspring, ½ on, Round-off ½ turn to front handspring onto the horse (and even front handspring onto the board) together. We are in no rush to turn over the back side of the Yurchenko vault and usually do not have the gymnasts do that for a year or year and a half. We have an article that discusses training Yurchenko vaults from a safety point of view.
Also Use Vault Equipment Progressions for Safety and Success
We use a number of equipment progressions – the ones you mention and tumble tramp and trampoline Yurchenko stations and the use of a foam vault table training apparatus.
Throwing the Head is Dangerous on This Vault
Many call this vault a round-off back handspring onto the horse vault. We want to have our gymnasts look at this vault in a different way. We call it a round-off layout onto the vault table. We feel that too many gymnasts have a bad habit of throwing their head backwards (and therefore downwards) on back handsprings (none of our gymnasts do that, of course). We certainly don’t want that habit transferred to the Yurchenko vault. This vault, like so many other gymnastics skills depends on an arch/hollow body movement (not a thrown head whip).
In Training, Avoid the Largest Danger of This Vault
We want them to start with a neutral head, like on a layout, and be, if anything, too high onto the horse in the beginning. We can then work downward to where the vault should be. Better to be too high on at first than too low. Of course, many gymnasts also throw their head on back layouts (it is the most common bad habit). But again, we are working from a position of too high on and going into a pit or onto a ResiPit mat without turning over, so the most dangerous aspect of the vault (going backwards head first into the horse is minimized).
Take the Time for Gymnast’s Safety
We take it slow with this vault (and every other skill as well). Slowly, slowly. Only one little tiny step of progress at most each day. When done this way, any potential dangers are vastly and dramatically reduced and success is inevitable. Perhaps even more important is the long-term development of consistency and having the front side of the vault and block habituated to be a correct muscle memory habit.
This Vault Has Great Potential for All Gymnasts
The Yurchenko vault seems to provide more potential rotational power and dynamics than a regular Tzukahara vault, important especially for ectomorph gymnasts, like say Nastia Liukin, vs. a mesomorph gymnast like Mary Lou Retton, who could successfully do other power vaults.
Continue to Study Coaching for Gymnast Safety
We must compliment you on your attitude toward coaching and your evident willingness to learn. You seem to have done all the right things, including learning through reading, watching video and going to clinics. And even when you were fairly certain you were right, you were willing to do more research and ask questions when the safety of your gymnasts might be at stake.
Continue Studying the Sport to Stay on Top
We firmly believe that most of the best coaches continue to learn and never feel that they know it all. We learn from gymnasts every day we are in the gym and while we have read and studied as much or more than anyone else, we continually research and record new and better ways to do things.
Keep up the good work. If there is anything else we can do for you or any more questions you have, feel free to contact us.
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