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Gymnastics/Giants on low bar


Hi Jack,
My daughter is new to learning giants. She finally figured out how to swing over on her own using straps. She has done some at least 14 times in a row. She is very eager to get them on her own but seems to struggle with her hands switching  and getting up to that handstand. A new thing she told me today after practice is her coach told her she wants to teach her on the low bar with bent legs. Can you tell me if this is beneficial? Are they using this technique to correct certain mistakes she may have already while practicing giants with straps on her own? Will this technique create issues with her tap? She has a great kip cast flyaway and mostly sticks her landings. She is very excited and doesn't express fears, which is great.
Thank you

Hello Mick,
         I am very glad to help you.  I understand your concern.  In my opinion…..relating to technique…the bend of the bar plays an important role in aiding the gymnast to achieve a giant swing.  The coach suggested the low bar giant which to me means your daughter is small enough to do it on the low bar.  The size of the gymnast can impact the achievement of the giant swing.  Small gymnasts have a harder time in bending the bar.  The gymnast needs to use all the tools of the technique in order to be successful.  FYI, the longer the body line the more force a gymnast puts on the bar.  Performing a giant on low bar means the athlete knows the giant technique already and can fix the tap to be stronger because they cannot rely on the bar bend to assist them like the high bar.  The gymnast would need to be able to cast a handstand to aid more to the bar bend on low bar since the line is being shortened at the bottom.  The gymnast would also need to tap quicker and be tighter to float for the grip change.

I think she is on the right track with understanding the strap bar giants and how and when the body floats after the tap.  I believe your daughter needs to work on performing baby giants on the high bar to feel the tap on real bars.  Understand that the strap bar is normally a men’s high bar which is smaller and used the thumb around the bar.  The grip change is different because of the size of the bar from a women’s uneven round rail.  The giant swing is a very important element for bars and the athlete needs to be patient of the process.  The benefit of patience allows the gymnast to feel right from wrong and as a result helps the gymnast “own” the trick.  I define “owning” a trick by a gymnast who can fix it themselves.  Instincts are developed which are huge in training and safety as well as future connections.  I hope I have helped you in the understanding of the process etc.  I wish your daughter the very best and take care – 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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