Are you familiar with the traditional children’s song called “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes“? It helps children learn about the anatomical names of their major body parts. It’s a pretty catchy jingle actually. And I remember listening to to the tune on Sesame Street and PBS and in school when I was a young child.
Well, it may be unsurprising to you, but I’ve created my own jingle for memorizing what to think about when an athlete is jumping. I call it: “Fingers, Elbows, Ankles, Toes“.
These are the 4 things that an beginner gymnast should think about when they are jumping on the trampoline.
- Fingers. All five fingers should be closed together. Thumbs should be in. Palms should be flat and sharp at all times. Fingers should not be spread open. There is a common tendency to curl the fingers inward, like shovels, avoid doing this.
- Elbow. Elbows should be straight at all times. Try not to bend your elbows when you are jumping. The only position the elbows should bend are tuck-jump and stomach-drop (upon landing).
- Ankles. These need to be squeezed together whenever you are not making contact with the trampoline bed. Both ankles should come together, as if you only had 1 single leg!
- Toes. Toes should always be pointed, particularly when you are at the top of your jump. Of course the toes will need to flex at the bottom of the bounce in order to prepare for contact with the trampoline bed, otherwise you will hurt yourself.
Remember, during a competition you are actually being judged BEFORE the routine even begins. You are already being judge on your prep bounces. Are your fingers together? Are they sharp? Are your elbows straight? Do your ankles come together when they are not touching the bed? Do you have a habit of pointing your toes? Your preparatory bounces should focus on these 4 areas: Fingers, Elbows, Ankles, Toes. Repeat this mantra over and over in your head, “fingers….elbows…ankles…toes” whenever you are practicing your prep bounces.