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Introducing The Back Handspring Repair Kit™

Introducing The Back Handspring Repair Kit™

Introducing The Back Handspring Repair Kit™

Over the years, I have learned that there are many ways in which basic back handspring technique is taught.  There are 5 essential steps to the back handspring approach: bend & swing, fall, jump (also known as “standing fast”), and the snap (or more accurately, pulling to handstand).  However, there is one very specific difference in the way coaches will teach the initial or starting position.

Many of the athletes I’ve worked with over the years have been taught to “sit” at the beginning of their back handsprings.  Put simply, this means that when they start in the standing position, they then proceed to drop their butts into a seated position.  I’ve found that this is fundamentally flawed when teaching back handspring technique, especially to new tumblers.  And here’s why:

When we sit, we place our weight and balance back into our hips.  When performing a back handspring, we want our backward momentum to happen in the “fall” portion of the approach.  By sitting and placing our weight in your bottom, you prematurely put your momentum backwards and “force” your fall.  This can cause athletes to skip the fall, causing them to “undercut” their back handspring.

This is why I prefer to teach my athletes to “bend” instead of sit.  By bending, you keep your weight centered, with your chest over your knees over your toes. This will accomplish 3 things:

The back handspring is a “corrective” skill, meaning you intentionally fall into the skill and correct yourself from falling by standing fast into a hollow body position.  Sitting puts your weight into your heels and butt, two places you do not want your weight when jumping into your skill. You want your jump (“stand”) to come from your toes.

To some this might seem like a minute (pr. “my-NOOT”)  difference in instruction, but to me, it’s the details that make the difference between an “ok” tumbler and an exceptional, detail-oriented athlete. 

Coach Lain is a traveling performance coach specializing in technique, fear management and performance psychology, and helping athletes to build up their confidence through understanding to better outperform said fears! He is a neuroscience enthusiast who shares his obsession for understanding fear on his podcast, The Fear Less University. You can find him on Instagram where he is most active throughout the day.

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© 2020 Coach Lain LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

Bend v. Sit

Bend v. Sit

Bend v. Sit

Over the years, I have learned that there are many ways in which basic back handspring technique is taught.  There are 5 essential steps to the back handspring approach: bend & swing, fall, jump (also known as “standing fast”), and the snap (or more accurately, pulling to handstand).  However, there is one very specific difference in the way coaches will teach the initial or starting position.

Many of the athletes I’ve worked with over the years have been taught to “sit” at the beginning of their back handsprings.  Put simply, this means that when they start in the standing position, they then proceed to drop their butts into a seated position.  I’ve found that this is fundamentally flawed when teaching back handspring technique, especially to new tumblers.  And here’s why:

When we sit, we place our weight and balance back into our hips.  When performing a back handspring, we want our backward momentum to happen in the “fall” portion of the approach.  By sitting and placing our weight in your bottom, you prematurely put your momentum backwards and “force” your fall.  This can cause athletes to skip the fall, causing them to “undercut” their back handspring.

This is why I prefer to teach my athletes to “bend” instead of sit.  By bending, you keep your weight centered, with your chest over your knees over your toes. This will accomplish 3 things:

1

It will keep you from skipping the fall, which comes after the “bend & swing” in the 5-step approach.

2

It will provide you with a more explosive jump (“stand”).  Keeping your weight centered in your toes & thighs instead of your butt and falling from a bent position, you will also allow your body to jump (“stand”) into a hollow body position, which will lead into a proper arch-to-hollow succession thereafter. 

3

Finally, it will allow you to have greater control over your fall and help to keep you from undercutting.

The back handspring is a “corrective” skill, meaning you intentionally fall into the skill and correct yourself from falling by standing fast into a hollow body position.  Sitting puts your weight into your heels and butt, two places you do not want your weight when jumping into your skill. You want your jump (“stand”) to come from your toes.

To some this might seem like a minute (pr. “my-NOOT”)  difference in instruction, but to me, it’s the details that make the difference between an “ok” tumbler and an exceptional, detail-oriented athlete. 

Coach Lain is a traveling performance coach specializing in technique, fear management and performance psychology, and helping athletes to build up their confidence through understanding to better outperform said fears! He is a neuroscience enthusiast who shares his obsession for understanding fear on his podcast, The Fear Less University. You can find him on Instagram where he is most active throughout the day.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below  via Disqus

Don’t see your comment? Check out my Comments Policy.

© 2020 Coach Lain LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

5 Simple Steps to Take When You Get Frustrated with Your Back Handspring

5 Simple Steps to Take When You Get Frustrated with Your Back Handspring

5 Simple Steps to Take When You Get Frustrated with Your Back Handspring

You’ve had enough. You’ve been practicing and practicing for weeks…months…years and you STILL don’t have your back handspring. Your getting pressure from your parents, your coaches, your teammates and even yourself, all of them wondering what’s taking you so long and why you can’t get this seemingly simple skill (though I’d like to see them try it ;P) Your parents are upset because they’ve spent hundreds, maybe even thousands, of their hard-earned money on private lessons, clinics and classes. Your coaches are impatient, because they need you to get your skill to add you to the amazing tumbling section they’ve choreographed. Your teammates are upset because you’re holding everyone up. And finally, you’re beating yourself up because you know EXACTLY what you NEED to do, but you just can’t seem to make your body and your brain communicate properly. 

So what do you do?

First, you stop beating yourself up. Plain and simple.

Next, you take a deep, cleansing breath and follow these 5 simple steps. I guarantee you that at the end of the process, you’ll have a different outlook on your back handspring development and will be on your way to getting the skill on your own.

STEP 1

Remind yourself that everyone is different and learns differently, at their own speed and pace. Though the mechanics of the back handspring are universal by design, the way it’s taught and learned varies from coach to coach and athlete to athlete.

STEP 2

If flying like Superman were a possibility, and there were people who were able to learn but it took you forever to get it, would you beat yourself up about that? Seems a bit ridiculous, no? Similarly, remember that tumbling, as a discipline, is not natural by any stretch of the imagination. It’s possible, but not natural. Everything we do on the spring floor (or basketball court or football field) is a learned behavior. It’s not something that comes naturally and therefore has to be carefully nurtured, consistently practiced, and constantly monitored to ensure your technique develops properly. So stop being hard on yourself, it’s going to be alright!

STEP 3

Stop focusing on your frustration, the emotional response you have when attempting your skill, and start focusing SOLELY on the technique! Most likely, your stagnation is being caused by a flaw in your technique, most often from improper instruction. By shifting your focus from your frustration back onto your technique, there won’t be a moment where you’re not focusing on what your body is or is not doing, helping you to hone in on what the problem might be.

STEP 4

Get someone to take video of you performing the skill in slow motion. Slow mo captures everything the eye (or more accurately, the brain) misses in plain sight. This will allow you, much like athletes in many other sports, to analyze your movement frame by frame. You can see exactly what you’re doing incorrectly, and come up with a sequential plan of correction.

STEP 5

Finally, find yourself an exceptional technique-centric coach who can help you pinpoint your mistakes and poor habits, and get you back on track toward progress. I actually offer Remote Coaching Services, which allow you to get a top-notch private coaching experience even if you don’t live in the Bay Area. Check out how it works here, fill out the form, and let’s get started today!

There are so many factors that play into your development as a tumbler, you don’t need to let frustration and self-deprecation be among them. Frustration is much like fear – as an emotion, it’s a concentration blocker. Learning to ignore the emotion by focusing more heavily on the procedural elements of the skill will help you to not let the frustration and fear rule you and take up valuable learning time.

For more help, contact me today! Let’s talk about what you’re going through and how we can get you over that wall!

Cheers! 

Coach Lain is a traveling performance coach specializing in technique, fear management and performance psychology, and helping athletes to build up their confidence through understanding to better outperform said fears! He is a neuroscience enthusiast who shares his obsession for understanding fear on his podcast, The Fear Less University. You can find him on Instagram where he is most active throughout the day.

CONTACT

I'm always looking for new programs and teams to work with! Fill out the contact form and let's get to work! Or you can always email me directly!

What do you think? Share your thoughts below  via Disqus

Don’t see your comment? Check out my Comments Policy.

© 2020 Coach Lain LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong in Your Back Handspring…and How To Fix Them TODAY!

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong in Your Back Handspring…and How To Fix Them TODAY!

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong in Your Back Handspring…and How To Fix Them TODAY!

Ahh the back handspring…It’s funny isn’t it. For some, it seems to come easily, like second nature. For others, they struggle for years to understand what about the skill is causing them so much grief. And still for others, they “had it” at one time, and then a bad experience (whether a coach who missed a spot or a slip on the football field) sent them back to the beginning, leaving them overcome by fear and doubt.

One thing I can assure you of, no matter who you are, is that the back handspring IS NOT A NATURAL SKILL. So whether you’re looking at some crazy tricker on Instagram pulling BHS’s out of nowhere, or you’re a novice yourself struggling with “where do I start”, the fact of the matter is that we all deal with the same emotions and feelings about the BHS. This is because we all have brains that have had thousands of years to develop feelings about things it deems “unsafe” to its existence. That’s right, the brain has a “default” mode, and it’s only comfortable with those things that it feels are safe or natural. And guess what…the back handspring…it’s not natural.

I’ve taught hundreds of athletes how to do their back handsprings. But more importantly, I’ve taught hundreds more how to approach the skill safely without hurting themselves. Over the years, I’ve developed a 5-step system for teaching the skill. In this post, we’ll go over those 5 steps by revealing the opposite of those steps that you’ve most likely been taught or taught yourself to do, and how you can fix them TODAY!

So let’s jump right in shall we?

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1. Sitting as opposed to “bending”

​I’ve covered this quite extensively in a previous post, but it definitely bears repeating. There’s much more to this step than a rhetorical faux pax. The rhetoric we use in coaching and understanding skills plays a HUGE role in how our athletes execute their skills. The brain takes in WAY too much information daily for it to process at full power like we’d like it to. Heck, we only use 10% of our brain’s capacity, so what do you expect. Don’t get me wrong, the brain is an amazing super computer that God created, but it still gets overwhelmed. Therefore, it takes shortcuts and recalls information it’s learned before to help us make faster, informed decisions. These are called “schemas”, or mental shortcuts, which cut down on processing time and make memory easier & faster. So word association and rhetoric become increasingly important in decision making. This is why I’ve changed the way I call out directions during tumbling skills to my athletes. If you want them to execute the way you expect, you have to give proper direction right? 

If I tell you to “sit” right now, what are you going to lead with? You’re going to drop your weight into your bum and lead with that. When beginning your back handspring, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure by leading with poor technique. This technique has been taught by cheer and gymnastics coaches for decades. I’m not saying it’s “wrong”, but I do believe it’s fundamentally flawed.

If you fix your approach, stop sitting and start bending to explode through your knees and toes, I guarantee you’ll see a significant improvement in your standing BHS technique TODAY!

2. Not “falling”…because let’s be honest…who wants to do that!

Our brains have 1 function: self-preservation. We’ve been told our whole lives not to fall, be careful you don’t fall – heck, that’s why we practice “trust FALLS” for team building exercises. The brain HATES falling because it’s not safe. Falling back into your back handspring takes trust. Your brain has to trust that you know what you’re doing, and you can convince it of this by practicing proper technique.

Again, rhetoric plays a HUGE part in how our brains communicate with our bodies and it only benefits you to be as specific as possible when playing the mediator between the two. 

Likewise, you have to stop telling yourself the wrong things to do. It’s not “sit”, it’s bend; it’s fall; it’s “reach” instead of throw; it’s “hands” instead of arms; it’s “stand through your toes” instead of “jump”; it’s “arch to hollow” instead of “snap to the ground”. Physics is a remarkable thing, and the role it plays in tumbling gets downplayed A LOT. A back handspring should not be a difficult skill if we (1) change the way we teach it and (2) change the perception of its execution.

 

3. Throwing your head and arms from the shoulders, not leading with your hands

When you have a lesson with me and hear me yell “reach” after you’ve bent and fallen, you know that I mean to (1) “snap” your arms from your shoulders and (2) lead with your hands. You want your hand placement in a BHS to be on point every time, so why are you focusing on your arms? When we throw something, is it not true that we’re more focused on the object being thrown than the arm that’s doing the throwing? I get it, us coaches say “throw” your arms to signify the speed with which we want your arms reaching back. But check this out. When we say “arms”, our brain’s default association goes straight to the bicep, that’s what we think of when we say arm. “Oh, my arm hurts” is something we hear when we see folks grabbing from the elbow up, not their wrists. If our wrists hurt, we say wrists. If our elbows hurt, we say elbows.

Now, check this out: what’s at the end of your arms? Your hands. What’s closer to your shoulder: your bicep or your hands? Exactly. So when you have to get your hands from down by your hips all the way to above your head in a split second, what has the farther distance to travel? Your hands! So, when you’re thinking about reaching into your BHS, don’t think about throwing your arms. If anything, think about throwing your hands! So it’s not unlike throwing a ball now, where your main focus is what’s being thrown. Since it’s our hands that have the farther distance to travel, we’ll subconsciously work harder at getting them up and behind our ears than we would had we just been focusing on our arms.

4. Not “standing” into your skill all the way through your Big Toes

That’s right, stand! Throughout this article, we’ve talked a lot about word association and the role having good rhetoric plays in the understanding and proper execution of a skill. When we say “jump”, your brain thinks of a full bodied motion. But in BHS’s, we want tight, controlled motions that focus on explosive, centralized power. Case in point, at this point of your BHS, your legs are bent, your weight is in your toes and your hands are behind your ears. For you to do a full bodied jump at this point would cause you to drop your bum, put your weight BACK into your heels and drop your head back looking “up” for the ground. In other words, you’d have horrible technique that would put you at greater risk of injury.

Again, this is where rhetoric comes in. If I tell you to stand as fast as possible to get yourself off the ground, and make sure you stand all the way through your toes – you’re still inherently “jumping”, but it’s a much more focused power. That’s the type of take-off you want going into your BHS. 

5. Snapping down through your lower back instead of changing your shape!

Ah the “snap down”. How many of you have been tossed aside and told to practice these off a panel mat? I admit, I used to have a lot of girls doing this while I focused on another group during tumbling class and I kick myself for it now. Haha! Well, here’s my issue with snap downs. When you’re performing them by yourself, when you haven’t had the proper training for your upper body and core strength (and let’s face it, most novice all-star or MS/HS cheerleaders haven’t), snap downs get practiced poorly. The focus becomes less about “snapping” properly and more about getting your feet to the floor. The snap down drill off a panel mat causes athletes to (1) use their lower backs for power and support (which is horrible for your lower back) and (2) teaches them that the “snapping” motion comes from the hips, since most will pivot at the hips to get their feet to the floor. In some bad cases, it causes athletes to use their knees to initiate the snap. ALL WRONG, haha!

This is why I’ve once again changed up the rhetoric and tell my athletes to snap from “arch to hollow”, using their “bum and tum” the whole time. 

Again, physics is remarkable. We forget that when we’re in the arched position coming out of our skill, we have a ton of momentum helping us over. We don’t have to finish the skill entirely on our own. We have momentum, force, motion, Newton’s Laws to help us finish the skill, haha. If we simply focus on snapping our bodies THROUGH OUR CORES from an arched position (which is an “allowed” position, not a forced one) to a hollow body, we can literally coast through the rest of the skill!

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These five key problem areas are the foundation upon which I’ve built my 5-Step Process for teaching a back handspring. These are the 5 most common mistakes athletes make in approaching the skill, and the 5 most poorly explained motions by coaches. Learning anything new takes time, consistent practice, and the reinforcement of proper skill and execution. However, we can truncate a lot of that practice time by focusing on key problem areas and breaking the movement down into easily digestible fragments. This is the core of what Tim Ferriss teaches in his books, podcasts, and TV show! 

I stand by my coaching technique wholeheartedly. If you make these 5 key changes in your technique, I guarantee you’ll see a significant improvement in your training right away! What’s more, you might even finally be able to get that last piece of the puzzle and conquer your back handspring! 

Remember, no skill should be performed without the supervision of a qualified coach. Do NOT try these techniques on your own. I hate to say it, but it’s necessary these days, but Coach Lain is not responsible for any injuries that result from reading this article and trying these steps, either alone or with a coach.

All the best to you in your training! If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact me below or what’s better, book me to come to your team or gym and show you these principles in person!

Cheers,

Coach Lain is a traveling performance coach specializing in technique, fear management and performance psychology, and helping athletes to build up their confidence through understanding to better outperform said fears! He is a neuroscience enthusiast who shares his obsession for understanding fear on his podcast, The Fear Less University. You can find him on Instagram where he is most active throughout the day.

CONTACT

I'm always looking for new programs and teams to work with! Fill out the contact form and let's get to work! Or you can always email me directly!

What do you think? Share your thoughts below  via Disqus

Don’t see your comment? Check out my Comments Policy.

© 2020 Coach Lain LLC. | All Rights Reserved.