At the same time that gymnasts are learning limbers, cartwheels, round-offs and other basic skills, they can also begin learning to jump backwards onto a resi-mat. The arms can stay-up or swing-up with a shoulders-width to the ears side. The knees should be bent slightly to begin the jump. Make sure the gymnast does not squat too deep. The jump must show good flight with a long travel back.
Coaches may spot the gymnasts upper back and shoulder area so they can practice the dynamic coordination betweeen the arms swing and the lean back motion with a quick opening into a tight arch position. Beginning with a hollow chest facilitates a stronger chest opening to the tight arch.
Gymnasts starting to learn back handsprings can benefit from feeling the lean back action in a simpler way. Also getting familiar with hollow chest to open chest and shoulders and the legs push to open hips on a single tight arch body unit. This drill helps the athletes to train the lean back action several times in a row with a coach's assistance.
Rocking back and forth lying down on a barrel may help gymnasts to experience the single arch-body unit with open hips and shoulders required for the back handspring flying phase.
Gymnasts showing improvement on simpler drills and spotted back handsprings may be introduced to barrel back handsprings. Coaches must make sure that the gymnast does not start so close to the barrel as it forces them to undercut their jumps.
Gymnasts may use a panel mat to train for distance during the first flying phase. With their toes at the beginning of a panel they perfom back handsprings trying to reach far into a different panel. Since the gymnasts know the exact place they are begining each turn they can check how much they are flying back from feet to hands.
To begin the backhandspring the gymnast leans back off balance while slightly bending the legs and moving the trunk forward with a straight or hollow chest. From this position the gymnast can make a powerful jump backwards. Back handsprings have two important flying phases.
This talented young gymnast is making a nice effort to emphasize a chest hollow position at the beginning of the skill. The objective of this action is to create a feeling about the shape of the body on the second flying phase. Nowadays she still has some troubles to hold a hollow position on the turn over from hands to feet and pikes down instead.
Back handsprings can be spotted with one hand on the lower back and the other hand on the closer hamstring. If the spotter stands on the left of the gymnast the right hand goes on the back and the left hand on the nearer hamstring. During the second flying phase the hands switch the left to the abdominal area and the right to the lower back to assist with any problems during the landing.
A short first flying phase from feet to hands makes it difficult to create an effective second flying phase from hands to feet. Short undercut first flying phases cause the hands to touch the floor with poor body angles to make a quick arms repulsion into a powerful turn over to the feet. Before bad technical habits get too engrained it is wise to spend time reviewing basic drills.
On the next few clips a different gymnast offers examples of some of those basic back handspring mistakes already mentioned. /Undercut with poor blocking repulsion and pike turn over. /A much longer and nice back handspring example with good hands to feet turn over. /Second flying phase example with an incorrect pike turnover.
If the gymnast is having problems showing a tight arch and the coach is confident of being able to handle the gymnast's weight he places a hand on the upper back reaching toward the further shoulder area while keeping the other hand on the hamstring. When the gymnast jumps back the coach stops the motion in mid air to allow the athlete to position her body into the correct shape.