Note: This article is for educational & literature purposes only. Please seek professional council in order to learn any type of gymnastics or acrobatic maneuver. Never attempt to practice any gymnastics without the supervision or approval of a certified professional.
Front Straight Somersault
Front Straight Somersault, or sometimes referred to as the Front Layout, is an important beginning skill. We prefer the term Front Straight over its alternative, to discourage athletes from performing a Front Whip, which is a different move. If you ask a gymnast to perform a Front Layout, sometimes they will inadvertently perform a Front Whip. The Front Whip looks more like a front-handspring, and requires a strong punching action with the legs. In contrast, a Front Straight on the trampoline should not have a whipping action; it has a strong lifting action as opposed to a punching action. The whipping motion would be unconducive for adding multiple twists later. The body should remain straight as a ruler during the middle and ending phase of the Front Straight.
The Front Straight eventually allows the pupil to move onto more advanced skills such as Barani Straight, Front-Full, and Rudi. The move can be difficult to learn for several reasons: the amount of height required from the pupil, the amount of heel lift, the body-shaping, and the blind-landing. The front straight should never be learned without a harness, crash pad, or a pit. A combination of those safety tools is preferred.
The following prerequisites should be mastered before an athlete is ready to learn a Front Straight:
- High Front-Tuck with kick-out
- High Front-Pike with kick-out
- Swan-Jump to Front-Drop
- Donkey-Kick (ie. Knee drop to Hand-stand hold)
- Doggy-Drop to 3/4 Front (with Swan Action)
- 3/4 Front (with Swan Action)
- Corpse Drop (ie. a Flat Back Drop)
- Backdrop to Front Drop (preferably with Straight Body)
Front Straight Progressions
- Front-Drop (but this time, standing at the very front of the bed). Low bouncing, start with arms down. Athlete must learn how to initiate rotation solely from sweeping the legs backwards. Upper body should not move an inch. There should be no bending of the waists, otherwise the technique being used is incorrect.
- Arch body hold on mat (hold for 5 sec reps, then 10 seconds, and 30 seconds). Arch body hold should be practiced with arms up, and arms down.
- Back-Drop to Front-Drop (Straight). Again, focusing on sweeping the legs backwards. Extra credit if arms can stay above the head (swan shaped) for the majority of the skill.
- Front somersault to Corpse Drop (Tucked)
- Front somersault to Corpse Drop (Piked)
- Front somersault to Corpse Drop (Straight – squeezing the body harder is the answer to rotating faster, see step #2: Arch body hold exercise)
- Front Layout. (Jump a little higher, and drive the heels a little harder before the squeeze. Part way through the flip, squeeze the body just the same as before. Arms are not allowed to come down until 12 o’clock. Meaning, most of the somersault should be performed as a 3/4 Front)
* Use a crash-mat or pit liberally for all of the above steps
**Athletes should not be allowed to move onto Step #7, until Step #6 is straight as a ruler.
Figure 2: Arch Body Hold (but should be performed with pointed toes,as described in #2
Notice in Figure 1, that the arms do not come to the sides of the body until the feet are at 12 o’clock or beyond. Often, the pupil will make the mistake of bringing the arms down too early, which results in a hollow-body or piked-shape for the manuevre. The arms should be kept overhead until the athlete is precisely upside down. In order to achieve this, a very strong heel driving action is required before 12 o’clock, or the athlete will never reach that swan-shape. The entire first half of the move should be performed in a swan position. The beginning should feel like a very powerful 3/4 Front that lifts upward.