Pit Bar Suggestions for Camp

Subject: Pit bar

Sex: female
Age: 8-12
Gymnastics Level: 5-7

My gym is running a camp for team this week. I have pit bar for 3 rotations and I need some ideas to work with the groups. One group is level 6/7 Some of them are starting giants some are working cast handstand flyaway. The next group is level 4/5 and they are starting to work flyaways. The other group is in the middle. The ages in each group varies but most are 10+. our bar has a cube pit on one side and a resi on the other side with a double mini station next to it with 2 12″ mats. The rotations are 45 minutes. Do u have some new ideas for me to work with them? Thank you!!

Simple dismounts are the basis for future release moves, so get them all excited and work on:

  • Yaegers (reverse flyaways – swing back, duck and tuck front into the pit – can spot on regular low bar until they get the idea)
  • Giengers (regular flyaways, very late twist after they know they made the flyaway, look for the bar and imagine catching it. Spotting these on LB is a little more problematic, but they can learn these pretty easily into loose foam pit without spotting as soon as their flyaway is consistent.

Getting used to handstands on high bar is important as well, so cast handstands and fall over into pit may be a fun and useful challenge for them.

Late drop (Handstand or high cast and toe one very late) to sole circle dismount for height and distance are fun and teach toe on toe off to handstand action for the future and the toe on low bar, catch high bar release move.

Be different and get up on some spotting blocks and spot your gymnasts until they can do free hips to handstand, not flat ones. That will help both Level 6 – 7 in bars scores.

Kip handstand and Handstand Pirouettes are so important to optional gymnastics so work both kip, straight body cast handstand and straddle up handstands.

Bounce HS off mini-tramp over LB are popular, fun and really get a lot of HS work done .  And bounce pirouettes with many grips (mixed and reverse grip make pirouetting easier at first since 1 hand is already turned. Then regular grip 1-2 pirouette).

Start working front giants on straps (if you have them) spot front giants on the pit bar. Any problems and the pit backs up the spotting. So many gymnasts have back giants and never get comfortable with front giants or start them way late in their career and it interferes with real optional bars.

Have them change focus and have them do 3 kinds of both front and back giants (regular, speed giants (for dismounts and releases) and stop in handstand (for pirouettes). Same skill but different focus makes teaching and learning easier and more interesting. Do same on strap bar. Eventually do 4 types (men’s/Chinese exaggerated tap), but they probably need to spend time on and learn and master the others first.

Flyaway contests for height and distance are fun.

I sometimes use balloon on a stick for a release target for girls doing flyaways in the pit to try to hit with their toes.

Blind changes (essentially the Level 5 dismount but to a handstand (Back giant 1/2 pirouette to handstand) is a good target for those gymnasts and useful later in opts. Blinds are also why gymnasts have to learn front giants – almost nothing else to do out of a blind.

If their giants are really good or you have perfect control spotting their flyaways you can put 4′ of soft mats stacked as a fake low bar, low bar distance away and work Pak saltos (flyaway release catch low bar). I lay a tube of foam as a target low bar. You can use this same mat set-up for straddle backs (to a straddle sit on the stack of mats at first) and also for underswing 1/2 turn to handstand over the low bar (with or without handstand). Spots for these are not difficult (Pak is more critical – don’t want them to fly into even a stack of soft mats) and again focus is on higher level skill prep.

Circles don’t usually get enough attention – front and back stalder circles for stalders, front and back seat circles for in-bar stalders, toe on, toe off handstand, with spot and we already talked about free hip handstand.

Kip variations is something I have been doing a lot of lately – glide 1/2 turn glide (fast hand shift and straddle after 1/2 turn), reverse grip kips (spot and watch that they shift their wrists so hey can hold themselves up on the bar if they make it and don’t collapse on their face). Drop kips,

Having gymnasts do their low bar compulsory skills on high pit bar makes it seem way easier for them later when they only have to do them on the low bar. That works for Level 4 and up.

I am on the road and that is what is coming to mind for bars for up and coming young gymnasts for camp.

Hope that helps.

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