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Gymnastics/straddle press on a single rail

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Dear Jack,

First of all, I want to thank you for the job you do here, answering questions voluntarily! It is so great and helpful.

Here is my concern:
I just started gymnastics a year ago, and well, I have my Glide Kip Cast Handstand totally perfect and my standing back tucks are very high I can even pike them. My RO BH Layout is so powerful, I could do a double twist if I knew how to.
Anyways, you need to know, Austria is a very small country and gymnastics is probably one of the most unpopular sports here.
It’s easiest to understand if I tell you that we have 15 Elites in the whole country, only ten do a double pike and the others can’t. The highest vault is a tusk or yurchenko layout and is only done by 11 girls. If you can do a Jaeger, you are a hero! So yeah...not very good.
I live in Vienna, the capital of Austria, and know all people who do gymnastics, because we only have one real gym in Vienna that has a pit and uneven bars. There are probably 8 girls who are good, 2 would maybe be a L9 and the rest would be a L7/8 in the USAG System. So really bad. And very few can do a press handstand and all who can are 12 or younger.
I also train in that gym, and I AM THE ONLY GIRL IN VIENNA WHO IS OLDER THAN 14 AND CAN DO A SITTING STRADDLE PRESS!!!!! There is one more girl, she does horse vaulting and she can also press to handstand, but she is only 15 and has no other strength than pressing strength.

Anyways, all the coaches know me already and they always call me „the press handstand girl“ because there are so few girls who can do that in our country (not even all of „Elites“ can).

If you are interested and want an impression on how bad our country is, you can watch the best girl of Vienna. She is also one of our countries Elites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7voN-C2fe98
I know her, and she is pretty good on beam but she can't press to handstand. She is 15. Really embarassing to see how bad Austria is.

Anyways, today after training we had Christmas lunch and I talked with my coach.
He said that it is pretty unbelievable what I achieved in only one year training.
I got my pike glide kip in exactly 2 weeks and 5 days, I could cast to handstand immediatley etc. I don’t want to brag at all, because I think this is all just a combination of many factors. I have the flexibilty and strength to do gymnastic, I am really motivated and hard working and I have a little bit of talent. Give me a volleyball and a 4-year old can play better than me, but gymnastics is just „my thing“ and some things came naturally to me, like Bounders, Back Handsprings or Aerials. I got them on the first try. Anyways, he told me that for him, the absolute prove of strength is a press handstand on a single rail. He has never seen a girl in Austria do that, only when he had a further training as a coach in Russia he saw little girls doing that. So when you are on P-Bars for example, then grab just one bar facing it lenghtways, hands very close together and in front of each other and then straddle press up.
He joked that if I can ever press up like that, they would build me a monument in front of the gym and in front of the university (I am studying sports science and he is also a teacher there).

I really really really want to be able to do that. I love press handstands, I think my body adapts to the training pretty quickly. And then I would definitely the only girl in Austria who is older than 14 and can press up on a single rail. I asked the coach of the head coach last week and he said that there is no girl in Vienna who can do that, although some tried already. Maybe there is one girl on the other part of the country, but he is not sure. How cool would that be???

Here are videos of me doing a few press combinations, so you get an idea where I am. Some are with ankle weights (2 lbs each) and hands close together, some normal ones. The third one might be the most helpful one.

Standing Presses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zePth4072P8&list=UUNQGKM2ntqdIxJRyG5ApF4A

Sitting Presses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59kttOKxQ1Q&index=3&list=UUNQGKM2ntqdIxJRyG5ApF4A

Attempting the single rail press (I can easily press up with hands together, even with weights as you can see, I can press up with hands in one line on top of each other like in the video but I can't press up grabbing a single rail, yet, because it is elevated a few inches which is pretty hard)
And I can hold a straddle L on a single rail for only maybe 5 secs or so.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ-2hmgB5Mk&index=4&list=UUNQGKM2ntqdIxJRyG5ApF4A

I am now focussing on getting my pike press and my sitting straddle press both with ankle weights and I am working on pressing up from a straddle stand grabbing just one rail, like in the one I fail in the third video. Also, I am working on Straddle Ls on a single rail on the p-bars, just holding it and also trying to press up to a straddle stand.

Do you think this will be possible? And if so, how long will it -approximately- take? Just to get an opinion? Could it be done in 10 months? Or do I need 2 years?

I am looking forward to getting your opinion!!!

Answer
Dear Jack,
         First of all, I want to thank you for the job you do here, answering questions voluntarily! It is so great and helpful.

Here is my concern:
I just started gymnastics a year ago, and well, I have my Glide Kip Cast Handstand totally perfect and my standing back tucks are very high I can even pike them. My RO BH Layout is so powerful, I could do a double twist if I knew how to. Anyways, you need to know, Austria is a very small country and gymnastics is probably one of the most unpopular sports here. It’s easiest to understand if I tell you that we have 15 Elites in the whole country, only ten do a double pike and the others can’t. The highest vault is a tusk or yurchenko layout and is only done by 11 girls. If you can do a Jaeger, you are a hero! So yeah...not very good.  I live in Vienna, the capital of Austria, and know all people who do gymnastics, because we only have one real gym in Vienna that has a pit and uneven bars. There are probably 8 girls who are good, 2 would maybe be a L9 and the rest would be a L7/8 in the USAG System. So really bad. And very few can do a press handstand and all who can are 12 or younger.  I also train in that gym, and I AM THE ONLY GIRL IN VIENNA WHO IS OLDER THAN 14 AND CAN DO A SITTING STRADDLE PRESS!!!!! There is one more girl, she does horse vaulting and she can also press to handstand, but she is only 15 and has no other strength than pressing strength.  Anyways, all the coaches know me already and they always call me „the press handstand girl“ because there are so few girls who can do that in our country (not even all of „Elites“ can).  If you are interested and want an impression on how bad our country is, you can watch the best girl of Vienna. She is also one of our countries Elites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7voN-C2fe98

I know her, and she is pretty good on beam but she can't press to handstand. She is 15. Really embarassing to see how bad Austria is.

Jack says:  I watched your elite on youtube.  I agree in that her elite acro skills need to be upgraded.  Maybe she should spend some quality time on the tramp for improving air sense for more confidence in higher level acro skills.  I do not know her training….but I do know that people that excel in tumbling elements love being in the air and performing acrobatics like an amusement ride.

Anyways, today after training we had Christmas lunch and I talked with my coach.
He said that it is pretty unbelievable what I achieved in only one year training.
I got my pike glide kip in exactly 2 weeks and 5 days, I could cast to handstand immediatley etc. I don’t want to brag at all, because I think this is all just a combination of many factors. I have the flexibilty and strength to do gymnastic, I am really motivated and hard working and I have a little bit of talent. Give me a volleyball and a 4-year old can play better than me, but gymnastics is just „my thing“ and some things came naturally to me, like Bounders, Back Handsprings or Aerials. I got them on the first try. Anyways, he told me that for him, the absolute prove of strength is a press handstand on a single rail. He has never seen a girl in Austria do that, only when he had a further training as a coach in Russia he saw little girls doing that. So when you are on P-Bars for example, then grab just one bar facing it lenghtways, hands very close together and in front of each other and then straddle press up.
He joked that if I can ever press up like that, they would build me a monument in front of the gym and in front of the university (I am studying sports science and he is also a teacher there)

Jack says:  I am impressed that your coach thinks you cannot get an english straddle L press handstand.  He is apparently guessing you don’t have the drive/persistence or the genetics to achieve this element.  I never underestimate desire.  Desire can overcome all obstacles!  I would love to visit Vienna and she your sculpture in the future!

I really really really want to be able to do that. I love press handstands, I think my body adapts to the training pretty quickly. And then I would definitely the only girl in Austria who is older than 14 and can press up on a single rail. I asked the coach of the head coach last week and he said that there is no girl in Vienna who can do that, although some tried already. Maybe there is one girl on the other part of the country, but he is not sure. How cool would that be???

Here are videos of me doing a few press combinations, so you get an idea where I am. Some are with ankle weights (2 lbs each) and hands close together, some normal ones. The third one might be the most helpful one.

Standing Presses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zePth4072P8&list=UUNQGKM2ntqdIxJRyG5ApF4A

Sitting Presses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59kttOKxQ1Q&index=3&list=UUNQGKM2ntqdIxJRyG5ApF4A

Attempting the single rail press (I can easily press up with hands together, even with weights as you can see, I can press up with hands in one line on top of each other like in the video but I can't press up grabbing a single rail, yet, because it is elevated a few inches which is pretty hard)
And I can hold a straddle L on a single rail for only maybe 5 secs or so.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ-2hmgB5Mk&index=4&list=UUNQGKM2ntqdIxJRyG5ApF4A

Jack says:  I love your work ethic.  I can tell your desire is very high. Here are some challenges to train.
1.    Practice the English handstand on a mens rail (usually oval shaped) and lower to a straddle L.  This will help with your balance and awareness.
2.   Please note:   You don’t want to learn so much forward because your weight and balance begins to go to the front hand.
3.    You need to have better planche strength to not lean forward.  Try your planche exercise with one leg out and one leg in the tuck.  Also, the more someone leans forward the weaker their planche and flexibility is.  You do need to counter balance but not too much.

Kathi, I do believe you can get the English straddle press handstand!  I cannot predict the time but you will get it.  Train smart and eat right.  Stay lean and positive (as you always seem to be)  You will not fail.  Your desire is your biggest asset.  Take Care and keep me updated.   Merry Christmas – Jack Leonard

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Jack Leonard

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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.

Experience

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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