Subject: Spotting the Twisting Direction
The question is what side do you spot a full, that twists to the right and a full that twists to the left? (Now when we say twists to the right, we mean the right shoulder leads us backwards and the left shoulder follows. Additionally when we say twists to the left, we mean the left shoulder leads us backwards and the right shoulder follows.)
Some say you want the gymnast to twist into you. So if the gymnast is facing you and running toward you and is going to twist to her RIGHT, We would stand on HER right or left?
Does this vary for a 1/2 twisting layout? Do you now stand on the opposite side?
Question submitted by Staff (please leave nameless)
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First, let us say that we do not usually spot fulls or any other tumbling pass. We almost exclusively use tumbling into the pit, tumble tramp into the pit, tumble tramp, trampoline into the pit and trampoline to master twisting and other tumbling skills. We find that gymnasts, in general, learn faster when they are not dependent on (and do not have to be weaned from) spotting. Of course, if a coach does not have access to pits and trampolines, there is more incentive to use spotting in the learning process.
Even without pits or trampolines, we would likely do minimal spotting instead using the late twisting/landing mastery method of learning. This method teaches gymnasts to concentrate on rotating the layout and only twisting when they already know they are going to land the somersault on their feet. The landing mastery system has gymnasts working out of all of their twisting progressions using handsprings, saltos and whips to ensure they have control over their landings.
If a gymnast can do a handspring and a whip out of a full, they definitely have the landing of the full mastered enough to do a full and a half. We use those same “tumble-out” progressions through all of the twisting progressions. We use back “tumbling out” for fulls, double fulls and triple fulls and front “tumbling out” for 1/2, 1&1/2 and 2&1/2’s.
Spot for Safety, Positioning and To Speed Learning Only
We do feel that it is an essential coaching skill to know how to spot skills like fulls, even when they are primarily taught without using spotting. There are times and situation when spotting becomes necessary or is the most effective or efficient method to use at the moment.
In general, especially when a gymnast has just learned a skill and/or switches to a new training surface or piece of equipment, it is judicious for safety purposes to spot the skill. Similarly, if a coach detects problems with the skill (like very early twisting which may result in under-rotating) a few spots may be sufficient to remedy the problem without the usual remedy of backing up in the progression or going back to the pit.
While we do not at all recommend that gymnasts be competing skills in meets they have not completely mastered and since there are usually no pits at meets, some gymnasts may benefit from a safety spot on their first warm-up twisting pass at a meet.
Good Side, Bad Side Spotting
It is important to recognize and acknowledge that all coaches have a strong and a weak side of spotting. At some point, a coach is likely not going to be able to spot any more twist on their weak side. For example, I can consistently spot up to 2&1/2 twists on either side, but triple fulls only on my good side.
4 Types of Spots – Contact Maintained, Pitch and Catch, Spot landing
There are basically four types of spots for back twisting.
1. Up to double fulls (and some quick 2&1/2 twisters) can be spotted with contact maintained throughout the entire skill.
2. and 3. If the layout is high enough (or the coach sets it high enough), the coach must set the gymnast (with either the inside hand or the back hand) and then catch them on the landing.
4. When gymnasts can do the skill by themselves for the most part, coaches usually only spot the landing of the skill, if and when needed.
Always Try to Have Gymnasts Twist into the Spotter
As much as possible (up to the coach’s bad side twisting spotting limit) coaches should always spot so the gymnast is twisting into them. This is true regardless of whether they are doing 1/2 or full twists or multiples thereof. If the gymnast twists away, it is far too easy for them to twist out of the coach’s grip or even out of the coach’s reach if something goes wrong. If they twist into you, the worst that is likely to happen if something goes wrong is that you wrap them up, which may completely stop the layout and twisting, but ends up with them safely in your arms.
Twisting is always difficult to describe. If a gymnast twists with left shoulder back, you should be on their right side when they are facing you to begin the tumbling pass. Then when they have done their round-off and are tumbling backwards, their left shoulder is closest to you and they will be twisting into you.
You can use all four types of spots on a full and coaches should be able to spot fulls to both sides. Early in the learning process, you will likely be spotting with the inside hand against their back in the set and maintaining contact throughout the spot.
As they progress you can set them (with either the inside or back hand) and then catch them on the landing. When their layout set gets high enough, you will not be able to maintain contact as they rise out of your grip and you will have to use the pitch and catch method. When the gymnast has mostly mastered the skill, you can spot them only on the landing or as needed on the landing. Spotting the landing only involves catching the gymnast by both hips about 1/2 of the way through the twist and helping them finish the twist and lighten the landing.
You can also use all four types of spots on a double full and tumbling coaches should be able to spot double fulls to both sides as well. It is still possible to maintain contact throughout the entire spot on a double full. But chances are most spotting of double fulls will be of the pitch and catch type. Some coaches may not be capable of using their back hand to set on their weak spotting side. When gymnasts have mostly mastered the skill, you can spot them only on the landing or as needed on the landing.
It is unlikely, even with quick twisters, that you will be able to maintain contact throughout an entire triple twist. There is just too much resistance and or interference that is likely to occur. Many gymnasts twist so quickly off the floor that it is difficult to impossible to set them effectively (especially if you are trying to spot on your weak side).
At this point in twisting (or perhaps earlier), you may choose to spot only on your strong side and only on the landing. You will spot the landing by catching both hips at about 2&1/2 twist and help them finish the twisting, make sure they land upright and lighten the landing.
In general, you should consider teaching twisting primarily without using spotting as the main training method. Coaches are going to have limitations as to how many twists they can spot and on what side. They should be very clear about their personal spotting limits and not exceed them. Whenever possible gymnasts should be twisting into their spotter so they do not twist out of their grip or even out of their reach. The more the numbers of twists being spotted the fewer spotting techniques there are available to use. As with any spotting, coaches should only spot if they are positive they can control the gymnast regardless of what mistake they may make.
Good luck and if we can help any further please feel free to contact us.
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