Twisting Arm Wrap Technique

Subject: Twisting

Dear Coach,

Hi. I can full twist in a somersault, but just! Is there anywhere I should put my arms to get a better twist???

Thank you!!!

Arm Wrap Twisting Technique

There are two major biomechanical factors related to the arm twisting technique used in initiating and increasing the speed and efficiency of twisting somersaults. The human body is bound by the laws of physics and even relatively simple seeming movements can actually be quite complex and involve multiple factors. Twisting while somersaulting involves a complex series of movements relating to these two laws of physics.


The arms, especially for girls are instrumental in setting (lifting into) the layout. Without sufficient lift, there may not be enough airtime to complete the twisting action. So the first initial movement of the arms is to fully lift and extend the arms up by the ears and lift into the layout.

Drop One Arm

The first physics factor in the twisting arm wrap technique is angular momentum which when referring to arm twisting technique indicates that one side of the body is shortened to initiate twist in that direction. This is most commonly done by dropping one arm lower and/or sooner than the other arm. Angular momentum can also be created by arching to one side which will also decrease the radius of the body on that side and initiate twisting in that direction (although since we will be looking for a tight body twisting position, we will not want to overdo this at all).

Drop Left Arm, Twist to the Left

Thus the arm action, so far, will be to lift to the ears and then drop one arm, then the other to straight out sideways from the shoulders. Twisting will be initiated in the direction of the first arm to drop (left arm drops first or farther and the twist will be initiated left) with that shoulder going back first – a left shoulder back twist.

Decreasing Radius, Increase Speed of the Twist

At this point the other law of physics is ready to come into play. Decreasing the radius increases the speed of the twist. Imagine a skater pulling into their spin – their arms pull from wide to close into the body and you can literally see the speed of the turn increase. You can also test with a step turn or jump turn on the trampoline. Start your turn with your arms straight out to the side from your shoulder and then pull them in quickly while turning. You will feel the speed of the turn increase greatly.

Snap and Hug

So far in the arm twisting action, we have reached the point where our arms are now straight out to the side. We want to pull them into our body symmetrically and end up with the hands together in the middle of the chest and the elbows in tight to our body in a kind of “hug yourself” position. The more you “snap” into this position, the faster the speed of the twist will be accelerated. Since the arms are coming from the widest possible radius (straight out to the side) the twisting acceleration is also maximized.

Snap the Head Also

This snap should be exactly coordinated with the head moving in the direction of the twist by basically looking to the left (so far we have been consistently describing a left twist. The direction for all the movements is just reversed for a right twist).

Open Arms and Stop Twist

To stop the twist at the desired amount of twist the arms will again be opened (widened) which will decrease the speed and stop the twist. We recommend opening to a gymnast “stick” position with the arms up and out diagonally from the shoulders.

Lift and Snap

In an overall sense, this arm movement will somewhat of a circling movement of up, out and in. In another sense the arm movements are more of a lift, release and circle, snap action. We find in coaching that we need to direct the gymnasts to concentrate on either the lift or the snap in order to get better height on the layout or more twisting.

Learn It Right on One Twist and You ‘ll Learn Two and Three Twists Faster

Now the twisting arm action we have described will create enough twist to do a triple or even a quad twist. For a simple full twist, you will be waiting to start the twist and opening out of the twist very quickly. But you will definitely want to be developing the correct arm twisting action on a full so you can refine it to do double twists and more.

Good luck and if there is anything else we can help you with, please let us know.

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