USA – level 5 vault (women)

UPDATE – Check the passionate, insightful COMMENTS on this post.

I’m posting this from the Great West Gym Fest, one of the biggest American gymnastics competitions.

Well over 1600 athletes compete over 4 days (video link).

Level 4 girls vault up on to mats landing “flat back”. An excellent developmental drill, most do it quite well. At this meet, AAI equipment was used. Level 4 vaulted on to the “Level 4 Vault System” mats.

Level 4 Vault System from Spalding
Level 4 Vault System from Spalding (AAI)

Level 6 girls do a required handspring vault over the standard vault table. Many are excellent!

But Level 5 girls vault is problematic. Of well over 100 girls I watched, only a small percentage did good vaults. Many had a piked body position on preflight. Many had poor arm action off the board. Dozens barely cleared the vault table.

It was clear to me that Level 5 should not compete a handspring vault over a table.

PROPOSAL: Level 5 girls vault over a stack of mats, landing on their feet. This would be the best transition between Levels 4 and 6.

In competition the “Level 4 Vault System” mats would be turned sideways. Girls would have to clear those mats.

Leave a comment below if you have an opinion on this proposal.

Jim Tighe, coach and equipment rep., likes the idea. But he suggested even Level 4s vault over the mats rather than landing flat back.

What do YOU think?

teaching “regrasp” on a bar

Most coaches spend far too little time teaching the skill of “regrasp”.

How gymnasts “catch” a bar is far more complicated than you might think.

Gymnasts with hand guards often contact the bar first with the wrist then slide or bounce down the bar until the hands are in the correct position. (This is one of the main reasons I prefer female gymnasts to delay starting to use hand guards as long as possible.)

Many experienced gymnasts catch “too close” with bent arms to be sure they do not miss the regrasp. It’s essential to straighten the arms before swinging through the bottom.

regrasping too close and in the wrong body position


1) Jump from a distance and “slap” the bar.

2) Jump from a distance and “regrasp” the bar. Then push away. (This is the most important drill.)

3) Jump from a distance and “regrasp” the bar. Swing through.

Make a game of these drills awarding points for successful attempts. Body position on regrasp must be correct (stretched hollow) for a down swing.

Of course either “missing” the bar or “catching and then slipping” is very dangerous.

purchasing an “air floor” – Tumbltrak

If you read this blog regularly you know I am a big fan of Tumbltrak and Doug Davis, their widely travelled President.

more-reps.jpgNo one is selling more innovative gymnastics equipment than Doug.

For example, I toured Australia with one of Tumbltrak’s excellent “air floors“. It was very well received.

Check out the excellent TumblTrak website.

Want a price on the air floor? Email TumblTrak at — ask for a total including shipping and possibly tax and duty (depending where you live).

Tips For Gymnasts – back walkover (Gymbrooke) has a great page called:

Helpful Hints and Tips For All Gymnasts

It offers advice for gymnasts and parents on Floor, Beam, Bars, Conditioning and more.

For example, here is an excerpt from the backwalkover on beam page:


If there’s one skill on the beam that frustrates intermediate gymnasts the most, it has to be the back walkover. How many times in practice have you gotten your hands on the beam, only to realize you’re slightly off and end up having to bail out? Probably too many.

The first and most important thing to remember, whether you’re just starting to learn this skill, or if you’ve been doing it for a while, is that your alignment with the beam has to be perfect. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

Beam: Back Walkovers –

See the rest of the tip topics: Helpful Hints and Tips For All Gymnasts.

coaches needed in the UK

Premier Sport are looking for Full-time and Part-time Sports Coaches to assist with the delivery of extra curricular coaching in Primary Schools.

Premier Sport is the leading provider of Sports to Schools in the UK. Your role will be to deliver quality sports coaching to children aged from 4 to 11 years on School premises. The ability to travel will increase your opportunities to earn. pay rates are from £10 to £15 per hour, based upon experience.

… We will provide you with full training and support to attain various sports coaching qualifications, to enable you to achieve a career in Sports coaching and reach your full potential. There are positions available all across the South West region, so we can place you in a position local to you. To apply please email your CV to darrenphillips AT

Darren Phillips, Head Coach, Premier Sport

The Chalk Bucket Gymnastics Community

Forums, Photo Gallery, Links, Articles, and much more.

We’ve just “subscribed” to The Chalk Bucket.

It’s like an on-line bulletin board — but much more powerful. As well as community comments, excerpts are linked to and other sites.

Very cool.

We’ve linked to The Chalk Bucket from the right hand navigation on each page under Blogs. (As it has a blog-like RSS feed.) And will be checking it every day.

Are you a gymnast, coach, parent, judge, or fan?

Register at The Chalk Bucket, it’s FREE!

Welcome to the The Chalk Bucket. Join the community and talk with other gymnasts, coaches, parents, judges, and fans. As a member you will be able post, private message (PM), upload and comment on photos, submit and review links, submit and review articles, and create your own personalized profile.

The Chalk Bucket Gymnastics Community


video – one arm rope climb

There is a whole fitness subculture who aspire to feats of strength.

A good starting point if you are interested —

A recent post on Beast Skills is an Interview with Jack Arnow, a “living legend”, considered one of the 10 strongest chin-up men of all time. Arnow has seen many feats of stength in his 64-years.

Arnow recounts amazing performances of one-arm chin-ups alternating and in series. Iron cross (“butterfly”) chin-ups on rings. One arm front levers. And much more.

As an example of a “beast skill”, watch a video of one arm rope climbing on CrossFit.

photo book – Gymnastics Balancing Acts

One of the most unique gifts for a gymnast we’ve yet seen is a coffee table photography book by Christina Lessa.

She has many famous American and a few international gymnast posed in costume.

Gymnastics: Balancing Acts

Gymnastics: Balancing Acts

Most of Lessa’s photo shoots are inspiring. A few merely bizarre.

It reminded me of the work of super photographer Annie Leibovitz. Certainly I prefer the gymnastics photos in Leibovitz’s Olympic Portraits (1996).

larger image – Dominique Moceanu – Annie Liebovitz

Chinese gymnastics equipment – GAOFEI

In Australia I saw samples of equipment from the Chinese company who won the 2008 Olympic contract — Taishan Sports.

(In the end, Taishan did not win the contract.)

A friend in Canada is negotiating a major purchase with another Chinese company called GAOFEI.

Their equipment looks to be good quality, as well. In fact, GAOFEI is also the distributor for GYMNOVA (a French company) in China.

Expect Chinese companies like GAOFEI to be VERY competitive in terms of price.


sample – bars handstand trainer