Twisting is easy if you do it right and virtually impossible if you do it wrong. We covered this once but we continue to get questions and see these errors at every meet we go to.
#1 – Throwing Your Head Back
Throwing the head back is the single most common problem on all back somersaults but it really interferes with twisting somersaults. Throwing the head whips the somersault over interfering with getting sufficient height to do multiple twists and automatically causes an arch in the back. Since twisting only really easily occurs in a straight body position, that arch and the requisite pike down seriously limits twisting capability. Eliminating this error (starting in the layout) can make twisting easier. In order to twist successfully, you really need to set the layout so that it goes straight up, rotates and then drops down to a stick.
#2 – Insufficient Set and Lift
Setting a good layout before emphasizing the arm wrap for the twist does two things. It ensures sufficient hight to complete however many twists you are going to do and makes sure the somersault goes straight. One of the most common twisting errors is to twist right off the ground, which means the salto has insufficient lift and airtime to complete either the layout somersault and/or the twist. It can also mean the somersault goes crooked. I have seen triple twist attempts go three feet sideways in the direction the arms wrap the twist – never a good thing.
#3 – Twisting in an Unnatural Direction
There is so much confusion about twisting direction for both gymnasts and coaches, that it is not uncommon to see gymnasts who have obviously made the wrong choice for twisting direction. If a gymnast canâ€™t learn a full after working on it for a long time, it is possible they are twisting opposite to their natural twisting direction. If a gymnast is having trouble twisting and they are not twisting in their natural direction (usually right shoulder back twisting if gymnast does left cartwheel), then they should experiment in a pit with the other twisting direction. In a safe environment (a loose foam pit) try twisting the other way a few times and see if it is easier or you make rapid progress. Gymnasts who have twisted successfully in one direction, already do multiple twists or have twisted one direction for a long time probably should not even try to switch directions.
#4 – Arched Layout
The correct position to twist is a strong, hollow body layout position. Arching the in the twisting somersault causes so many problems in the twisting. Basically, if a gymnast regularly over-rotates their layouts, they do not have the layout they need for twisting. Master the layout and twisting is easy, even triple fulls.
#5 – Arms and Head Twist in Different Directions
I have personal experience with this problem. The problem occurs when a gymnast twists with the head turning one direction and the arms wrapping in the other direction. While I have seen some powerful male gymnasts over power this problem and make double fulls like this, I have never seen anyone triple twist with this problem.
#6 – Head Not Helping Initiating Twist
The body has a tendency to follow the head – makes sense. Some gymnasts try to twist using only the arms to twist or twist and then their head just starts kind of drifting out of the twist. For successful, efficient multiple twists, both the head and the arms need to be used to initiate and maintain the twist.
#7 – Twisting Too Early
This is a common and potentially dangerous twisting technique and technique of learning twisting. Their is only so much power that a tumbling pass generates and in twisting passes there are two ways to direct that power – somersaulting and twisting. Early twisting often robs power from somersault rotation. Put too much of your tumbling pass power into twisting early in the pass and you may not have sufficient power to rotate the somersault. When you think of what the consequences of not rotating the twist or not rotating the somersault, you can quickly see that you should first set and rotate the layout and then twist. When learning twisting, you should also therefore use a late twisting learning progression. Think about it – anybody can do a standing jump full twist, but how many gymnasts can do a standing two-foot layout.
#8 – Whipped Twisting
While long tumblers and advanced tumblers learn to do twisting whips, this is not the technique you want to use to progress to multiple twisting somersaults. When gymnasts and/or coaches start twisting too early in the progression while a gymnast is still whipping over their attempts at layouts, successful twisting is not going to happen. Whips are both too low to provide enough air time to twist and not straight enough to allow efficient twisting. Again, the secret to twisting is to truly master the layout.
#9 – Poor Coordination of the Layout Set and the Twist
There is a fine balance between lifting and setting up the layout and the timing and coordination of wrapping the twist. Of the two, the layout is the most important and requires the most effort and energy. Face it, The correct balance must be found between the two and the two must be smoothly coordinated. Many gymnasts find this confusing all through their twisting career on fulls, double fulls and triple fulls. There must be a smooth timing and coordination between the set and the twist.
#10 – Lack of Simultaneous Coordination the Head and Arm Wrap
For twisting efficiency, the head and arm wrap must both simultaneously initiate the twist. They really need to snap into the twisting action at exactly the same time, especially for multiple twisting. When the head and arm twisting action are not closely coordinated, efficient, coordinated twisting can not occur.
Multiple twisting is really all about doing the correctly executed layout somersault. Without that first, you will be doing nothing but creating a series of other bad twisting habits. After mastering the perfect twisting layout, gymnasts can concentrate on the proper combination of set, lift and twist. Whenever there are problems in the twisting learning progression, don’t hesitate one second in going back and reestablishing the proper layout.
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