Vaulting Up Hill
Vaulting up onto a set of stacked mats, up to about about two feet higher than the vault table, is often called vaulting uphill. In our gyms, we used to call it tramp vaulting on, because we would stack mats on a trampoline behind the vault table to vault up onto.
Mats are Commonly Used Now to Vault Uphill
With the Level 4 vaulting mats now in virtually every gym in the USA, it is much more common to use those Level 4 vault mats for vaulting uphill. The Level 4 vault mats are usually used with some other 8â€³ or 12â€³ thick mats, stacked up to the appropriate height. Those 8â€³ or 12â€³ thick mats are commonly called crash mats or soft mats.
Used for All Types of Vaults
Vaulting up hill is used to train for all categories of vaults, from basic front handspring vaults to handspring fronts and Yurchenko vaults. Tzukahara blocking skills benefit greatly from vaulting uphill. And round-off entry with a half turn to front handspring type vaults also can benefit from uphill training.
Vaulting Uphill Video
NOTE: While this is an excellent video of how the vaulting uphill equipment set-up is used, the gymnast has a serious arm angle error in their blocking action and does not “block back” or “snap up.”
Emphasizes Vault Block
The primary purpose to uphill vaulting is to emphasize the block action of the vault. Gymnasts should be blocking every vault vigorously and show both rise (height) and amplitude (distance and height) off the vault table. Because gymnasts have less time on the back side of the vault to land the vault, they tend to block harder and quicker, which is exactly the intended result.
Uphill Vault Training Progression
There are two to three steps of actual skill progression in most vaults, in relation to vaulting uphill. For example, in a handspring vault, the gymnast first will block and land on their back. Eventually, they will develop sufficient block that they can do the handspring vault and land on their feet up on the mats. If they are training for handspring front vaults, they will next block to their feet and jump and land on their stomach in a front drop. They will eventually be able to block past their feet and land on their stomach safely all in one motion. Similar vaulting skill progressions apply to other vaults.
In the beginning of training a specific vault, the stack of mats behind the vault table should be slightly lower than the height of the vault table. As the gymnast improves their block for that vault, mats and height can be added until the mats are stacked a couple feet above the vault table.
Saves Wear and Tear on Body from Short Landings
In addition to forcing gymnasts to concentrate on their blocking action, vaulting onto soft mats saves wear and tear on their body from vault landings on mats, that would otherwise occur. It significantly lowers the risk of any vault landing injury.
Need to Safety Spot
There is a risk that if the gymnast does not block hard enough and/or the mats are stacked too high for them, that they will fall back onto the vault table and, then, possibly back onto the floor. Coaches should be standing there to safety spot, in case this occurs.
Different Mat Set-Ups
Some coaches prefer to use wedge mats in this vault equipment set-up. Especially for Tzukahara and Yurchenko timers, gymnasts may vault up onto a wedge mat (placed with the high end toward the vault table). The wedge mat actually allows the gymnast to actually complete the rest of the vault somersault rotation, by rolling over down the wedge mat hill after landing on their back.
Ideal Gym Design and Equipment Layout
In an ideal gym with the best equipment layout, a gym would have an uphill vault station, or even multiple vault uphill stations with different mat heights, always set up in the gym. Having one station, always set up, allows coaches the freedom to use this station every day to improve blocking. Having one or multiple vault up equipment stations saves time from being wasted to move mats.
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