Tricker Mackensi Emory is just goofing in this photo …
But it’s a great example of the worst possible landing in acrobatic sports, the ‘scorpion’.
As a coach I do everything I can to prevent this landing. It happens most often when over-rotating forward somersault (missing the feet). … It’s just as deadly when under-rotating a multiple forward somersault, though.
I ask young kids not to do this contortion position for fun, even if they are flexible enough. I don’t want them to have any muscle memory of the ‘scorpion’ shape, just in case.
How can we prevent ‘scorpion’ landings?
First, teach falling and landing skills to gymnasts at a very young age. They need be expert so as to know what to do when something goes wrong unexpectedly.
Illustration from Gymnastics Foundations – available from the Gymnastics Canada boutique $75
Most of the catastrophic injuries I’ve reported over the past number of years have been on forward somersaulting skills.
On May 12, 2006, Drew Donnellan at Tucson’s Gymnastics World and did a single front flip, a skill he’d done daily for seven years.
He over-rotated and fractured two vertebrae, damaging his spinal cord. He was paralyzed at age-16.
Drew’s coach is one of the best in the business, Yoishi Tomita.
It can happen that quickly.
The most common mistake I see in gyms is coaches letting kids who don’t need them do double (and triple) fronts into the pit. … For fun.
That’s too risky. There are a hundred other things they can do for fun not nearly so dangerous.
One coach I know banned all double fronts, … unless it was a necessary drill for an advanced competitive gymnast. Good and gutsy idea.