Working the Tumbling Hurdle
The tumbling hurdle is a very important piece when creating successful skill combinations. The hurdle sets the table for the gymnast's balance from the beginning of any combination. We must help the athletes create the stacking of weight over their touch points on the floor because power away from the floor comes directly for the amount of push they can generate. Falling forward does not allow for enough force generation and will create inefficient tumbling actions.
Think of a recipe when cooking. If you start with the wrong ingredients, it wont matter much if you try to follow the directions to the best of your abilities. The end product probably won't taste very good. The hurdle is the first piece of actual gymnastics in a tumbling pass. If they get this piece wrong or inefficient, the rest of the pass will suffer regardless of the effort put in. The tumbling hurdle is akin to the tap swing upon which the giant is created on bars. The tumbling hurdle is akin to the handstand upon which a pirouette is built.
These are the bands we use around the waist. For this iteration we use double bands so that the can feel the pause on their back leg and the bands have the strength to hold them in place.
Here is a quick and easy drill to work the double leg lunge position and weight transfer needed. By creating this push and point on the front leg, you can see the weigh shift back and then forward. This weight shift forward is important for the athletes to feel the weight on the back leg and the transfer low to the front versus falling onto an extended front leg forward.
Link to Bosu ball here.
Hurdle to Single leg Pause – Keeping Front Foot Under Knee
This hurdle to pause is important for teaching the gymnasts that the front foot should not kick out in front of the knee. By having them hurdle to a soft object, they can practice the pause in the desired position and the resi (in this instance) gives them something to cue their front foot staying under. We also want to see them land on a slightly bent back leg so they are in a position to create more power from that back leg upon contact and weight shift.
Application to a Cartwheel Drill
You can see in this downhill cartwheel drill, the gymnast begins on top of the back leg. She has to work a bent bottom leg, keep the front foot under her knee, then reach short to her first hand. This is a great example of the more vertical hurdle leading into a nice short turnover cartwheel/roundoff.
Think this hurdle is too tall?
We like to drill the hurdle through this vertical chest position. We fully understand that as athletes add power and competence, they will probably drop the shoulders down a little more forward. If we teach these young athletes without a lot of power to lean forward, the habit will usually get even more forward and we lose the quality of weight shift and balance. This is a case of drilling something slightly in excess of what we expect or desire for our full power, more advanced tumbling needs.