Fixing a Flyaway Full Bar Dismount

Dear Coach,

My daughter has been trying to learn a layout flyaway full twist bars dismount for a while now, and has been unable to overcome the over-rotation problem. (landing on her back) How can she slow down the twist, and avoid overrotation?
Is there a trick, or thought she should be thinking when in the air?

Let me know the best way to overcome the problem.

For your information, she has been doing a flyaway half twist.

First, I must say that I never really recommend this dismount and I have rarely taught it. I have seen in other gyms and with other’s gymnasts that twisting action off the high bar causing way too many severe knee injuries for it to be a dismount that I favor. I would rather have my gymnasts doing layout flyways perfectly until they can do double tucks, than to risk a knee injury. Percentage wise, it appears to me to cause too many knee and ankle injuries to be worth the risk just for a full twist that I don’t have it in my teaching progression.

While any and every skill can be a risk, and perfect execution is what minimizes the risk, I still tend to eliminate from the repertoire skills with what I perceive as higher injury rates.

For safety reasons, I emphasize keeping the feet together whenever doing and landing this dismount so that the feet land together and at the same time, not on one leg first so both feet and legs are protecting against any possible accident or injury.

That said, there are a number of possible causes for the over-rotation and a number of steps to a solution. The most likely causes are pulling in at the time of release of the bar, either by breaking the shoulder angle or actually pulling the arms bent. The shoulder angle should be straight and ideally the bar should be thrown back at the time of the dismount (for every action there is a reaction) to launch the gymnast up and away from the bar. Twisting increases the likelihood that there is some pull the gymnast is doing to initiate the twisting off the bar. This should be carefully checked and corrected by fixing the layout flyaway first.

As always when there is a problem with a skill the obvious solution is to back up in the progression. In this case, backing up to the layout flyaway and firmly re-establishing a landing with the correct amount of rotation is the first step. Throwing of the head is another common error that can cause over-rotation. It is the most common error on back somersaults of every kind and can create a type of whipping action that over-rotates the skill.

Another error, but often caused by throwing the head back, is arching on the dismount before the twist. There is a natural arch-hollow action of the body that once the body arches on the dismount, it is almost certain to hollow (pike down) whether the dismount requires piking down or not. That unnecessary piking down causes the feet to pull through and over-rotate the dismount. The solution is to do the dismount perfectly straight (or even a little hollow), not arched (which usually means not throwing the head). This very same problem is often seen on beginners doing fulls and double fulls tumbling on floor. If the gymnast is having problems correcting the arch, backing up to open pike flyaways may help to break the habit.

Once a straight layout flyaway is consistent, half and full twisting flyaways can be added back in. I tend to set up twisting with many layouts and a few twists, especially at first (e.g., 3 layouts and a ½, 3 layouts and a full). Then if that is successful, I go to alternating layouts and twisting.

If you want to tell your daughter something to think about, it is that she should be concentrating on rotating the layout correctly and worry little about the twisting. This is for two reasons – first if she makes all of the twist, but does not land the layout on her feet, that’s gonna hurt. If she makes the layout to her feet but doesn’t do all the twist, she is fine. Second, any preschooler can twist. Twisting is easy. As proof, ask your daughter to do a standing jump ½ turn and then ask her to do standing jump full turn. She sill do them no problem and so will almost any preschooler. Then ask her to do a standing layout (Don’t let her try it, it’s just to show her that twisting is easy and it’s the layout she should be concentrating on).

Early twisting is a common problem that can contribute to over-rotation. I recommend that you have your daughter change (if she is not already doing so) to a very late twist. Often when gymnasts are trying to learn a new twisting element, they put extra energy into the twisting action that actually goes into rotation causing them to over-rotate.

I recommend that gymnasts make sure they are correctly rotating their layout to their feet before they “try” to twist. If they are not sure they are going to land correctly, they should not twist at all. If they have to jump and do the twist after they land, that is alright as long as they don’t twist to early. Do this with the layout ½ and then when that is mastered add the other late half in the same way. Better to twist too late than too early.

Those are the most common errors to look for and fix. Hope this helps and good luck.

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