The Importance of Patience in Gymnastics Skill Acquisition

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 08:53

Slow and steady wins the race, right? Taking your time to learn gymnastics skills the correct way, with a sufficient strength base, will lead to virtuosity in movement far before you would get there by "just making it work."


Let's talk about the kipping pull-up to start this off. In order to safely perform a kipping pull-up one should at very least be able to perform one strict overhand pull-up. First and foremost, this is a safety issue. The forces that are put on your shoulders are largely multiplied when you add in the momentum of a kipping pull-up. If you aren't first able to maintain control through the range of motion with a strict pull-up, you are putting your shoulders in unnecessary peril. Second, and more fun, strict pull-ups make kipping pull-ups easier. Having the requisite upper body strength will keep you moving efficiently and not just trying to throw your body around to somehow get your chin above the bar.


Toes to bar! We should be able to cycle these. It doesn't show virtuosity in movement if you have to jump into every single rep. Try to build an efficient kip and cycle rate by reducing your range of motion - only take your feet as high as you can control. Focus on feeling your positions and rhythm. Use your lats to control where the bar is above you. Stay tight and connected through your core. Keep your legs long and feet together. Once you start to cycle an efficient kip hitting these bullet points, gradually work your feet higher and higher. Before you know it, those toes will be hitting the bar and you'll be on the bar for multiple reps, instead of having to jump into every rep or stop and swing between each.


Kipping handstand push-ups! Even attempting these without first mastering the strict handstand push-up is asking for trouble. From your shoulders to your neck, you're risking far too much if you are kipping your handstand push-ups without fist developing your strength base. Use scaling options that build your full range of motion while pressing. These vary depending on skill level, but you will be happy you took the time to do this the right way.


But Chase, if I get strict pull-ups and strict dips I can just swing my way into a ring muscle up, right? No, at least not at Ardent Fitness - or any gym that cares about you, in my opinion. Let me ask you, what are you going to do once you're up there for the first time on the high rings, in a dip lower than you've ever been, and one ring starts to swing behind you or out to the side? This also goes back to the same reasons as a kipping pull-up. The rings are an advanced tool and doing a muscle up is nothing to toy with. The forces that are put on your shoulders by just swinging up and landing in a dip can be detrimental if you haven't yet learned how to control the range of motion and built a good pressing pattern out of the dip. Get a strict ring muscle up, and then eat your heart out when kipping them seems soooo much easier.


But, but, I can keep chicken-winging my bar muscle ups, right? Go right ahead, if you have a shoulder surgeon in the family who will work for free! The "chicken wing" (one elbow turning over before the other) can be part of the learning curve but we want to work to correct that as quickly as possible to prevent any future shoulder, elbow, or pectoral issues.


In closing, please respect the skills. I know it can be tempting to let your ego take over in the middle of a group workout, but next time you feel that happening I want you to ask yourself, "If I put the pedal down here, will I be able to maintain my virtuous movement patterns?" If the answer to that question is "no," then you should take your foot off of the gas and focus on quality. Quality first, always.


If you are looking to put the polishing touches on your gymnastics work, schedule your 30 minute skill session today!