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Gymnastics/Successful completion of front mill circle


Apologies if you have dealt with this one a lot already, but we are desperately trying to figure out what else our daughter needs to do to complete a front mill circle without assistance.  She is a 6-yr-old, level-3 gymnast (a tiny one for her age, by the way - only 38 inches tall and about as many pounds), and has her first meet this coming weekend.  Hoping we can work some magic with her this week and finally break through in time for her to have her bar routine down for competition.

We have read info on line and looked at tons of videos, trying to analyze all that's going on and see if she's doing the right things. All seems to be correct starting out, but in that last quarter of the rotation, she loses momentum and drops onto the knee - like so many kids starting out.  Everything happens so fast, it's too hard for us to see what all the key body parts - arms, wrists, legs, torso, chin, etc. - are doing simultaneously so that we get a "light bulb" moment.  She seems to understand the basic principle and tries hard to follow the cues all the way through, but something is still missing.

In watching one level-3 girl on her team who can do a front mill consistently, it appears that the girl really tenses up her whole body, especially the legs - you can see the muscles bulging when she starts to go forward, and is stiff as a board the whole time.  That seems to make sense, but we have a difficult time conveying that to our daughter.  Your thoughts on how to help her prep herself as she begins the move and maintain the right form?  Any analogies that a 6-year-old could relate to?  Hoping there might be some tricks you or others have had success with in getting results quickly.  Thanks.

Hello Tracie,
         I am very glad to help you.  Below is a description of the front mill or stride circle.  

1.   Gymnast must be on the bar with palms facing forward and desired leg in front.  Usually the front leg is the leg in front when a gymnast steps to kick a handstand.  Also the gymnast should try to line up the front leg toe to hip to shoulder in a straight line.  This will allow a more committed circle.
2.   Now…the gymnast should have the back straight and front leg up or parallel to the floor.  The back leg should be straight down and the shoulders extended down to keep the body off the bar.
3.   Now the gymnast starts to perform a forward circle staying in the body position described.  When the gymnast’s upper body is level or parallel with the floor…the gymnast should bring their front leg to the back leg….like the two knives on a pair of scissors coming together.  The gymnast should not try to catch the body up with the front leg as it performs the scissoring action.  The front leg should circle in equal speed away from the upper body.  The chin should stay neutral….not come to the chest.  The upper body should not hunch over.  The shoulders should stay up and square.
4.   The ending should be with the gymnast vertical with chin in a neutral position and the legs in a scissor shape.  A great ending is tough because of the timing involved.  Doing only a 360 degree turn and not falling over is the challenge.

Also, please understand that the same rules apply for a mill circle that apply for a front flip.  In other words, the body chases the legs, the legs never come to the body.  I hope I have helped you understand the skill a little better.  Sorry for being a little late in the response…..our gym had our annual gymnastics show on Sunday.  Take Care and the best of luck to your daughter – Jack Leonard


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Jack Leonard


Former 5 time Natl. Tumbling Champ, 3 time Natl. Vaulting Champ, Natl. Floor Exercise Champ; Ass`t coach of Dominique Dawes for 6 years; Owner/Director/Head coach of Kauai Gymnastics Academy on the island of Kauai in Hawaii; Retired Physical Ed teacher; Childrens Fitness Expert; Expert Consultant for gymnastics litigation; Retired Mens & Womens HS Gymnastics coach for 32 years. National coaching honors for Men in 1981 & Women in 2001.


I value the following awards because they were given by acknowlegement through my peers: The Nissen/Grissold Award given to the outstanding Tumbling and Tramp Athlete(1972), National High School coach of the year in 1981 for men and 2001 for women, 10 time County Coach of the Year. Medal Award given at the first World Tumbling Championships in London, England for dedication to the sport. Lastly, having the opportunity to coach Wes Suter(1988 Olympian)in his intermediate years and Dominique Dawes(1992 & 1996)

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