We do A TON of twisting. Like, literally from Day 1. Every student. Basically, if you’re a beginner at our school, then your 2nd or 3rd move you learn is probably a Jump Turn of some sort. And we will continue to build on top of that for the rest of your journey in Gymnastics, indefinitely. We practice every single combination that you can imagine:
- 1/2, 1/2, 1/2
- 1/2, 1, 1/2
- 1, 1/2, 1
- 1, 1
- 1, 1/2, 1
- And so on….
The combinations are endless. And then we start twisting into and out of every skill. You name it: Doggie drop, stomach drop, back drop, Seat Drop, etc. The athlete may not know it, but the shear number of twisting drills are meant to eventually prepare them for advanced skills, namely somersaults while twisting. Students are also learning what to spot, when to spot, and when NOT to spot, so that they always know which way they are facing. The “when not to spot” is not always taught correctly. Inherently knowing which way you are facing at all times, and knowing which way is up, and which way is down is an important skill to learn, and not just for gymnasts, for every human. It is an important life skill that may save your life one day. It can help you avoid accidents, disasters, slips, and falls well into your old age. I believe that it might even help you avoid car & driving accidents to an extent, as the car can be viewed as a mechanical extension of your body. This skill is known colloquially as “aerial awareness” among gymnasts. But more scientifically, it is actually called “proprioception“. Here is how I would define proprioception: “The ability to make microscopic and immediate adjustments to your positioning in space, whilst in motion, without conscious thought, to avoid injury or increase success in your objective.” It is a sort of reflex, but not random reflexive motion. Untrained individuals have highly randomized reflexive motions. Many sports such as dance, gymnastics, and martial arts all help to increase one’s proprioception.
Some of these combinations drills can actually be more difficult than the actual skill itself. I myself find a jump double-spin or jump triple-spin way more difficult than a full-twisting layout. But when you’re first learning a back-full, the move can seem insurmountable to a gymnast, even though we know that it is easier than a jump triple-spin. With the jump twisting drills, the fear of crashing has been removed, so they can focus on pushing the boundaries of twisting mechanics. When it comes time to learn how to twist during somersaults, any issue is simply a mental and psychological block. For the body already knows how to do a Triple Twist, it should (in theory) be easy for the body to complete a full-twisting layout, if only the mind just allows the body to give in and do what it already knows how to do. Sometimes easier said than done….but the meantime, keep working on the jump twists, as those don’t do anything except help you.