Watch this great high-tech video demonstration of the Amanar. John and Jordyn explain the technique for executing a winning Amanar Vault using video footage of Jordyn.
The Toughest Vault Article by NY Times –> www.nytimes.com
Watch this great high-tech video demonstration of the Amanar. John and Jordyn explain the technique for executing a winning Amanar Vault using video footage of Jordyn.
The Toughest Vault Article by NY Times –> www.nytimes.com
I recently received this question from a coach and wanted to share it with you along with my response.
Level 7 vault I feel am finally understanding what the judges want. They want the angle of repulsion by vertical, good block to hip rise and distance from hands on vault to where feet land. Two issues I have questions for you about is 1. I find that if the girl has a good angle of repulsion they tend to land on their butt. Why? Also what do you tell the girls to get a good block. I know in at 45 degrees off by vertical but what do they physically have to do? What cues can I give them? Thank you for your time. Ozzy.
Vault progressions seem to travel the road of trade off for return. Coaches with long term plans will stay the course even though frustrations and scoring issues tempt deviating from the plan.
If the athlete consistently under-rotates after a good block, the issue stems from not establishing enough rotation from the board. As for the physical act of blocking, that comes from perfect timing of thrusting the arms towards the horse, and upon contact immediately, and explosively elevating through the shoulders (shoulder thrust). The perfect follow through would show extension through the wrists while maintaining body tension throughout.
The situation that you describe is fairly common and is the result of several factors with the lack of rotations being the largest consideration. In your attempt to gain a vertical block, the body must arrive on the table prior to vertical. A strong and efficient blocking action requires straight arms and and an powerful shoulder thrust. The combination of these factors severely slows the rotation established from the board (a longer body naturally rotates slower than a shorter one… straight arms makes the body longer and the purpose of blocking is to transfer rotation into lift, thus slowing rotation further). This is where the temptation to deviate from the long term objective of a GREAT handspring is seduced by short terms gains in score potential. Since you are experiencing under rotation you could deemphasize the blocking action (slight flex of the arms) which would in turn assist with maintaining sufficient rotation OR you could elect for a more vertical entry thus trading rotation for the ability to block off by vertical. These are short term fixes.
Obviously, coaches will want their athletes to score well in competition so short term trade-offs are fine provided we keep striding for the long term objective. When obvious errors are consistently present, I always like to look at what preceded the problem. In the case of lack of rotation from the board, here are a few suggestions for drills to increase the ability to establish rotation.
Front layout on trampoline or tumble trak
Then there is always the physical preparation considerations. Perhaps the athletes are not strong enough to exert enough force to create the desired amount of rotation. Even if the athlete is physically capable, they can always be stronger so conditioning the speed of the run, punching and jumping ability as well has heel drive ability will certainly aid in the development of dynamics and amplitude.
Next there is the issue of board technique. Contacting the vault board has similar trade offs as did contacting the table. Ultimately the athlete wants to punch the board with the feet in front of the center of gravity (prior to vertical) in order to get the best spring compression and take off potential from the board. How far in front is often debated but my thoughts are that this would depend on the speed, strength, size, weight and athletic ability of the athlete (so it varies). IF rotation from the board is the issue, try lessening the contact angle OR increasing the speed, effort ( a biggee) and strength (i.e physical abilities) of the athlete.
A few other considerations are the board placement itself and the height of the table. We want to place the board far enough from the table so as to allow time for extension on pre-flight, but all too often coaches allow too much distance. The closer the board is to the table, the better the chance of maintaining momentum until table contact. The more momentum you have upon contact, the better your chances of continuing rotation. Coaches also sometimes get caught in the trap that vaulting at a higher setting will insure better results. I disagree and like to put the table at a comfortable height for the athlete so as to encourage concentration on the more important aspects of the vault like establishing speed and rotation, maintaining body tension, explosive blocking etc. IF they are preoccupied with simply clearing that intimidating and immovable object that lies some 70 feet in front of them down the vault runway, they are likely going to be less concerned about details.
Hope this helps. IF you liked the ideas presented here, please feel free to share this by clicking on your social medium of choice below. Also Success Videos offers a great “Handspring Lead-up and Progression” coaches education training video. It is loaded with drills and techniques to help improve the handspring vault. Check it out at TheGymnasticsCoach.com.
Hi John. I am an optional vault coach and while we are very good at piked yurchenkos, I cannot for the life of me, get the kids to do a really great layout?????? I spot them from board to table into open foam, I spot them from table to open foam and mats, we do tucks up to the resi above ground and everything, and this has produced a few hollow fulls, but no true layouts!!!! I dont know if I should just never teach a pike and just teach a crappily arched open tuck. I have them do layouts on tramp, I have them do ring swings, and I have them do arch hollow positions on two wedges and off of spot blocks, and still, either the crazy pike arch pike or a low landing/ankle jamming layout shape which makes them pike their subsequent flips to prevent the ankle jam! No clue at this point, as nothing seems to be working. Any advice???? Please help. thanks a lot.
Progressing the details of shapes is somewhat like watching grass grow (progress is tough to see on a daily basis). Stay the course, keep emphasizing and drilling the shape that you want, and if the athlete has the ability and desire, it will eventually come.
One suggestion would relate the the “if the athlete has the talent,” and that would be to make sure you are not being overly optimistic with their ability. Layout vaults do require a good amount of athletic ability and sometimes PIKES are all you are going to get no matter how much drilling and conditioning you do. No sense beating your head against the wall or subjecting the athlete to unrealistic goals. BUT if you feel you are on track with the talent evaluation… stay the course.
Speaking of conditioning, this would be the area I would hone in on the most if the plan is not coming together like you would hope. Stronger athletes obviously will master skills much quicker than the less conditioned. Speed and power type conditioning enhancement will improve the dynamics of the acro skills, including vault.
Then there would be the muscle memory drills that put the athlete in the correct position as often as possible. You have been spotting, so that is a great start. Another approach may be to use launching devices like tumble trak, air bladders, mini tramps etc, to assist with getting off the floor or the table so that they can concentrate on the desired shape. This is a good approach to use while the athletes are acquiring and building adequate strength and power to handle the skill.
Hope this helps!
As I mentioned earlier vaulting can be the toughest of all events to coach. First of all, due to the extreme amount of athletic ability that the event requires in order to be considered successful, the event can be extremely frustrating. Tack on the fact that each important detail of the vault itself lasts .01s of a second and the ability to actually see technical errors is sometimes an educated guess at best, and you compound the ability to be an effective coach.
Coaches can however, become proficient at coaching vault through education and repetition. Developing superior focus on the important aspects of the vault becomes the determining factor as to how proficient. Was the arm circle correct? Was the hurdle effective? Where was the chest or arms upon contact with the board, what angle did they contact the board, did the knees extend or buckle, where was the head in pre-flight, what angle did they contact the table, what was the shoulder angle, where the legs apart on pre-flight or upon departure from the table??? Etc Etc Etc. All within less than 1 second.
Great coaches simply come to the conclusion that they can’t possibly see all aspects at the same time (seeing one or two is tough enough). SO they bite the bullet and join the hi-tech world. A MUST for every gym is a Video Recording Device (most commonly known as a TEVO unit). These are great coaching aids on all events, but almost essential when it comes to coaching vault. Our TEVO system has a time delay so that the athletes can view their performances as they walk back from vault. The devices have the ability to slow the action frame by frame, rewind and review and stop action. There is nothing like showing a specific problem or excellent example to get a message across. If you do not have a TEVO unit installed in your gym, it is highly recommended.
Once again as a proponent of the USAG Compulsory system, I encourage coaches to follow the lead ups and progressions as outlined in the J.O. Program. A common denominator in coaching failure is in the area of overlooking the importance of basic skill development. SINCE most athletes are not of the “superior talent” variety, and SINCE vaulting requires a good amount of athletic ability, BASICS become the only thing that can save the athlete of average to good ability (poor athletic ability will eventually want to invest their time elsewhere). It is the basics that make the average athlete GOOD, The good athlete GREAT and the great athlete SUPERIOR.
I encourage coaches to find a passion for instilling a mastery of SUPERIOR BASICS. Yes all athletes can run, but can they run and accelerate? Is their gate pattern the most efficient, Do they develop speed and power as they run? Early stages of the J.O. Program stress proper running technique as emphasized in the “points of evaluation” and later in the actual deductions (Level 4). Speed is essential for maximizing the ability of the vaulter. This is true BUT coaches need to keep in mind that CONTROLLED SPEED is far more effective than “pedal to the medal”, uncontrollable speed. Like most skills in gymnastics, speed is something that should be mastered in phases (learn to handle it and then add on).
Transferring the established horizontal velocity into vertical lift and eventual rotation is a time consuming phase of development. Most beginner (compulsory) level vaulters simply do not understand how to hit a board and use the spring action to their advantage. Drills that emphasize a long, smooth and accelerated approach to the board prove to be of great benefit. I am of the opinion that there is not a “one size fits all” technique for this transfer (hurdle). There are simply far to many variables to lock into one specific approach for all athletes. Physical ability, strength, quickness, size and weight, speed and power, and effort levels all play a role. Knowing that these will be somewhat different with every athlete dictates the path that coaches should follow. Length of hurdle, angle of entry, trajectory of the arm lift (I prefer an upward lifting action from the board as opposed to an over hand throw), distance from board to table may vary with each athlete. Use what best fits yours.
Developing the ability to invert and establish rotation is another often overlooked area. It seems logical that if we expect the athlete to perform a FRONT HANDSPRING VAULT that they be able to execute a FRONT LAY OUT (on tramp, on tumble Trak, off a vault board, and on the floor) prior to expecting them to do the same over a table (with the idea being that a FHS vault is a close relative to a front layout over the horse with a push off of the arms in the middle). I think you will find a close correlation between great vaulters and their ability to execute a dynamic front layout salto.
Inversion drills should be a part of most every vault rotation with the expressed emphasis not only on rotating BUT also on maintaining BODY TENSION throughout(Ribbon or Yarn would not a good vaulter make). BODY TENSION drills should also be prevalent in every vault rotation (great for return stations) for without the ability a maintain body tension the vault is doomed to failure. Some would say that body tightness is a “conditioning rotation” responsibility and I agree BUT would state that there really is never enough conditioning time and thus supplementing it on other events (like vault) is very important.
Another common mistake is made when coaches jump the gun on going over the table. Put yourself in the shoes of that little 6-7-8 year old when you ask them to run full speed and jump over an immoveable and intimidating object. This problem is magnified when the athlete has not developed mastery of the basics (which in turn leads to a lack of confidence). A few face plants into the table later and you may have irreversible damage. Your coaching time is better spent in developing aggressive confidence rather that forcing the progressions.
I am not sure I touched on anything earth shattering thus far but then again gymnastics success is not tied to secret techniques but rather the implementation of what is well known on a consistent basis. If asked as to what tips I would give to improve the average vaulter here are a few.
1- Vaulting should be an every day event. It is 25% of the All Around score therefore it should receive it’s fair share of training time.
2- Vaulting rotations should be 30-45 minutes with adequate return or in line stations set up that emphasize a specific lesson. (Body Tension, Speed improvement, Rotation, Board approach, Blocking, Landing, Air sense etc.)
3- Stick with stack mat flat back landing until a smooth, aggressive and consistent approach is developed. Add a panel mat to the mat stack to introduce repulsion. Next add a trapezoid or stack of panel mats in front of the mat stack to simulate the table.
4- When introducing the table do so at a low and manageable height (perhaps with an extra soft mat over the top). Use a more user friendly launching device like air bladders or tramp boards so as to make the skill less intimidating. Spot the initial phases to encourage aggressiveness and to instill confidence.
5- Continue to use stacked mats behind the table until a smooth, aggressive and consistent approach is developed (notice a theme here?)
6- Improve the physical abilities prior to expecting bigger and better vaults. Be sure your conditioning program addresses speed and power development of the legs. It is ludicrous to expect slow, weak athletes to be proficient vaulters. Make them stronger first.
7- Front Layouts should be considered a pre-requisite prior to expecting advanced results from your vaulters.
8- Board distance from the table, although dependent on many variable should be as close enough so as to maintain momentum through pre-flight to table contact while far enough to allow for proper extension to the table. Boards that are place too far cause a deceleration to the table thus reducing efficiency. Boards that are too close cause body angle issues.
9- Protect the wrists with pre-hab strengthening exercises (another great idle time station idea while standing in line for vault). It is also a good idea to introduce wrist braces in order to prevent any potential for overuse injuries due to the repeated impact on the wrists that is required on this event.
I hope this has been of some assistance to someone. For those looking for additional help and ideas for vault training check out the SUCCESS VIDEO entitled BEGINNER VAULTING. This covers a magnitude of lead ups, drills, and conditioning ideas for developing a great compulsory handspring vault.
If you enjoyed this article, please SHARE it with your facebook friends.
I was thinking of breaking out some technical oriented blogs when I got an email request from one of my athletes who is currently attending Stanford. She needed some assistance with a project for one of her classes (Hey mom… get this… I was asked to help a STANFORD STUDENT). She needed some questions answered about performing, coaching and competing on Vault. Thanks NICKO for providing the idea for this blog.
The following opinions will serve as a precursor to VAULT PART 2 which will focus on more of the technical and developmental ideas for coaching this very tough event. Stay tuned to THEGYMNASTICSCOACH.COM.
For those coaches looking for a great coaches instructional DVD… check out the SUCCESS VIDEO entitled ROUND OFF ENTRY VAULTS. This DVD encompasses a large variety of lead ups and progressions for all phases involved in developing this vault. You can find all the information that you need at THEGYMNASTICSCOACH.COM and click on the SUCCESS VIDEO tab.
1. What do you think sets Vault apart from the other 3 events? The fact that you have little if any chance to make up for a mistake. On the other events a wobble or alignment problem could be related to a single element whereas on vault a small issue in alignment or angles can have a dramatic impact on the outcome and score. Then there is the obvious 3 seconds to perform a vault and 30 seconds to 1:30 for the other events. Vaulting is a event that requires significant athletic ability.
2. Do you like coaching vault and why? Vaulting is the toughest of all events to stay consistently focused as a coach. Important aspects of the vault happen in .o1s of a second thus making it difficult to actually see with the naked eye (Board angles, when the legs close on a round off, block angles, bent arms, body tension, head position, shoulder extension etc). Often times you have to judge the problem by the outcome of the vault. Experience helps or the use of a DVRs helps. SO I guess I would have to say it is my least favorite event to coach and one that I have had to work very hard at becoming proficient at.
3. What is your favorite vault to see performed? As a purest of the sport I enjoy well executed vaults of any kind. I can be more impressed by a monstrous tucked yurchenko over a more difficult double twist that is sloppy and lacking in dynamics. BUT all things being equal I love to see front layouts with 1.5 twist (Sacramone). They are rare but beautiful when done well.
4. What are some challenging aspects about coaching Vault? As I mentioned earlier it starts with the ability to see all that happens in the approximately one second that the vault lasts from board take off to landing. Next would be getting the athletes to give consistent effort REALIZING that even the slightest deviation in effort (speed, round off direction, board punch, arm thrust for blocking, etc) can cause a totally different set of problems and eventual outcome on the vault. Somewhere I think I remember learning something in physics that says that vertical lift is some equation of horizontal velocity squared… (all constants remaining equal). If this is the case then even the slightest change in speed, momentum from the board or angle of board departure or table contact creates different results. SO getting the athletes to apply consistent and MAX effort is challenging.
5. What is the most important thing in teaching someone who isn’t naturally
powerful how to vault? That they should try swimming or marathon running . BUT IF THEY INSIST on being a gymnast then their technique has to be more efficient than the natural athlete. The gate pattern of their run must be more defined in order to milk every ounce of speed from their non-athletic body. More attention to details such as developing rotation from the board, blocking technique is needed in order to expect any amount of success. THIS IS NOT A GOOD EVENT for non athletes. On the other events you can hide athletic weaknesses. This is very tough to do on vault.
6. What do you think it is about Vault that makes people so intrigued to watch
it? It is short and sweet thus most people can pay attention that long. The relative simplistic nature of the skills themselves creates an ease of understanding and thus people can relate easier. Other events are tougher to relate to due to the complexity and variety of skills involved.
7. Did you like Vault when you were a gymnast? If so, why? NOT SO MUCH… it had mostly to do with the fact that the mens horse (back then) sat length wise on the runway and thus proved to be an immovable object when I SMASHED INTO IT (which happened quite frequently). This may have had something to do with the lack of training in High School as VAULT was not an event in HIGH SCHOOL (we had trampoline instead). SO vaulting in college was a new experience and thus challenging.
8. Would it have been more fun with the new vaulting table? HMMMMMM Probably but then again I may have been decapitated.
9. What do you think about the vaulting table as opposed to the old horse? Absolutely a great improvement for the sport of gymnastics. Not only for training purposes in the gyms in that now the boys and girls equipment is the same (and thus makes the training gyms more efficient) but more for the safety issues that surrounded the old horse… especially with the introduction of the round off entry vaults… TOO Many athletes simply missed the horse thus subjecting themselves to serious injury potential. With the table the fear is now virtually gone and athletes can focus on aggressive attempts rather than survival.
10. Do you think being a gymnast and actually competing vault helped your
ability to coach the event now? Being a gymnast yes simply due to understanding some of the related issues (speed, power, blocking concepts, and the importance of training repetitions). Competing it NO cause I was really bad and conventional entries are basically unrelated from a technical standpoint to the round off entry style.
11. Does coaching vault differ at all in the Elite world vs. the club world? OH yeh. In the elite world you have the dilemma of dealing with needing a high degree of difficulty in order to compete with the best in the country or the world BUT at the same time you only get one attempt THUS you can’t take chances. There are many athletes that choose to perform a more consistent and lower start value vault due to the risk that accompanies only getting one try at the elite level. Junior Olympic athletes get 2 chances thus taking the pressure off a bit while at the same time providing an opportunity to nail one vault and take a chance with a more difficult vault on the second attempt. The 2 worlds are also “WORLDS” apart in regards to the standard of excellence required for success. Elites must be much more attentive to the executional and dynamics details.