This by NO MEANS is an original piece of work. It is a compilation of the drills and ideas of myself, Steve Arkel, Jacobo Giron, Jason Mortimer, Don McPherson, John Min,, James Parent, Quinn Shannon, Brandi Smith-Young, and John Wojtchuk
As we go into TOPS Testing this weekend lets give some thought into one of the tested Physical Ability Elements at TOPS, Developmental Camps and National Team Camps.
I had done a few clinics and training camps this fall and in 2 gyms they did NO press handstands. I couldn’t figure out why. When I asked they said that they were difficult to spot and that they didn’t view them as necessary. Maybe I was missing something so I sent out an e-mail to some colleagues whom I have a great deal of respect for. I wanted to get their thoughts, opinions and progressions.
The importance of the Press- Why it is necessary and tested.
“No rope climbs= no gymnastics
No press handstands= no gymnastics
Not doing both= no gymnasts”
VERY simple, press and cast handstand on bars. Good shape in press good shape for bars. Teach lean on shoulders and get the butt up before the feet. If you can’t get your butt over your head in a press how can you get your butt over your head on bars?
I do them religiously, need them for Tops, and the benefits are quite apparent. My strongest athletes especially on bars are my press masters. I work them everyday and spot too plus lots of supplementary drills to strengthen and stretch the proper areas. There is a video post from Worlds now with athletes doing presses repeatedly for two minutes. My first time at National camp back in 2001, Dr. Sands stressed the importance of presses and how the USA improvement correlated with presses. Interesting then and a proponent always. My two cents.
Do they expect their athletes to cast to a handstand one day? Stalders? Tkachev?
I would say press handstands would be beneficial for the following skills:
• Cast Handstands
• Shoulder strength for opening up in a clearhip/toe on
• Compression for Stalders
• Safety in general mechanics of skills as you have to do each piece of the spine in a row. Trying to skip a vertebrae while “rolling up” into the handstand will lead to injury.
Presses are a must for gymnast!
They teach the athlete stacking/body alignment in an upper body loaded position and how to balance the body and spine inverted. When done correctly the moving in and out of shaping, finding spine neutral, actively and coordinating opening from thoracic extension and scapular upward rotation promote the shaping necessary to peak any skill. It is important athletes can actively get into spine neutral and with end ranges of scapular upward rotation and elevation while breathing utilizing the central stability system to achieve motor control and strength to transfer forces later in everything from vault to tumbling, to series on beam to truly pushing away from the bar to swing bars and not muscle bars. Press handstand are foundation for many progressions.
Development of general core strength and balance, development of HS position, body control during vertical movements, teaching to control balance while on hands and moving through different body shapes
Directly related to Cast straddle up AND STRAIGHT BODY HS (Look at the movement of the arms opening) on bars, all stalder or endo skills, toe shoot skills, a beam mount/skill, some possible choreography on floor
Progressions and drills.
Prerequisite Skills: good balanced HS, good straddle “L” hold
(It may be argued a “toe – touch press” should be here also but I consider it a drill. – JW)
Strength: Straight arm raise w. weight (also from laying down position on chest on a raised panel mats – lift dumbells from hanging straight down to horizontal (body is now straight as if a HS position); holding s straddle “L” position
Flexibility: Good shoulder flex (for HS), good “pancake” on floor, good pike compression stretch (floor and standing)
A different way of thinking about it would be to use gravity to help rather than hinder. The kinetic chain can learn backwards as well as forwards. Rather than pressing up to a handstand. a gymnast can start in handstand and press down. An athlete , especially a young one, will tend to push if working in reverse rather than working up bending the arms trying to lower the head and shoulders in order to get the hips in balance. This method works well on numerous skills to include cast handstand and Kip just to name a few. Some pressing drills reversed against the wall work well. Working with your seat (instead of shoulders) against the wall gets the desired lean forward and balance through the shoulders in order to get the hips over-the-top.
- Handstand lower to straddle (or pike) stand, then lower to straddle (or Pike) stalder. HOLD for 2 seconds.
- Handstand lower down to straddle L HOLD for 2 seconds
- Press from standing on a block and hands on floor
- Press handstand leaning against a block
- Press with seat against wall
- Hands on floor press feet up to a 8″ mat
- Sit in straddle hands out as far as possible and pull feet off the floor. Pulse 5 times
- Hang from high bar Stalder leg lifts mimicking press action.
- Feet on slider hands on floor while standing in a pike position, Push slider back into pushup shape, walk hands in, repeat across the floor
- Feet on slider hands on floor in a pushup position, slide feet into a pike and continue pressing up
- Hands on Parallettes, feet on slider in a pushup shape. Pike throughs to a supine extension and then pull feet back through to a pushup
- Swing to handstand on parallel bars
- Holding front support on rings
- Standing in pike position with hands on floor, a panel mat on each side of them, press up to the mat so each foot is on a panel mat.
- From a straddle “L”, press to a stand on the floor, then up to one panel of the mat and successively higher.
- From a straddled stand on a panel mat, hands down on floor press from the tip toes to a HS (This is to help prevent the little jump that often occurs a beginners start to learn this skill. The mat should be high enough to allow the gymnast to press with good form/technique but still “struggle a bit” to get up.
- Rushing the process; if you look in the men’s code, this is a SKILL – yes, it is strength but a skill first and should be taught as such.
- There will be a point where the gymnast is close but get stuck just short of getting the hips over their hands for the balance position. This is where they arch their back and we lose good form. Give them a little spot review the drills.
- One hint I use is to lift the lower back –not the hips, that seems to get through mor often than not.
There are many benefits of doing the press in different places as well.
1: press on a low rail
2: press sideways on beam
3: press longways on beam (English)
4: press on end of vault board
5: press on P Bars
6: press on rings
7: press on pommel horse w/pommels
Mix it up and alternate days. Do 5 repetitions of 4 of the above with 60 second holds after 5th one and alternate which every week.