Would you like to earn higher scores on beam ? There are the usual tips for improving your beam routine, like making sure your arms and legs are straight and pointing your feet, but here are some other easy to implement tips to help you perform better to increase your score!
Starting December 15, we will be having an Improve your Beam Routine challenge inside SkillTrakker. We will spend 30 days doing drills and exercises to help you clean up and improve your beam routine so you earn higher scores. But regardless of whether you join us for the challenge or not, you can use these tips to improve!
Download this Beam Routine Report Card to access where you are. If you decide to join us for the challenge, we will evaluate the items on this report card again at the end of the 30 days to see how much you’ve improved.
Tip #1: Eliminate Pauses
One easy way to improve your beam routine is to eliminate any pauses where you are standing still and the judge would have time to say “1 Gymnastics” or more. Think about what you do right before your acro skills. Do you pause for 1 second (“1 Gymnastics”) or longer ? If so, you are likely getting a deduction. Get rid of this pause to eliminate this deduction and increase your score!
If you think you need a second to think before doing a skill, consider adding in some basic arm movement choreography that you can do right before a big skill while you think.
Otherwise, you can work on the words you say in your head throughout your routine. Let’s say you do a split jump, two dance steps and then a cartwheel. In your head you could say “split, 1, 2, point and cartwheel”. Not pausing when you say these words in a row will help you not pause while you do the skills in your routine.
Tip #2: Dance in High Relevé
How many times do you go up in high relevé during your beam routine ? Do you take any steps that aren’t in high relevé ?
If you take steps that aren’t in high relevé, chances are you are getting a footwork deduction taken on your routine. Judges want to see you in high relevé wherever possible during your routine, like when you step and when you do dance skills.
One of the things we will be working on this month in the SkillTrakker challenge is our high relevé- how to make it higher and tighter and for it to become second nature to do it during your routine
One drill you can do to improve your relevé is a tight body relevé hold using Tom Koll’s 4 Ps. (Tom Koll is the chairman of the USAG Women’s Program committee and he helps develop the compulsory routines.)
Tom Koll’s 4 P’s of Relevé are:
PUSH through your big toe & 2nd toe
PINCH your thighs and bottom
PULL in your abs
PRESS your shoulders down
So, to practice this- get in a straight body position on your toes with your arms up by your ears. Try to hold your straight body position for 60 seconds while PUSHING through your big toe and second to, PINCHING your thighs and bottom, PULLING in your abs and PRESSING your shoulders down. Do 3x.
Tip #3: Make a Good First Impression
When you mount and get on the beam, the judge is forming a first impression. Is the judge’s first impression that you have clean form ? Or that she is going to have to take lots of form deductions ? This impression goes into the artistry of the routine that judges are evaluating. Judges have up to 3 tenths they can take on artistry which helps them rank great routines and separate those from just mediocre routines.
How do you avoid getting this deduction? One tip is to make sure your first impression is a good one. Practice being extra tight with arms and legs straight and feet pointed especially on those first skills in your routine.
Tip #4: Extend during Each Skill
For each skill you perform, judges are looking for straight arms and legs, pointed feet and extension. If you don’t have these four things, they take deductions.
To feel what extension feels like, stand still in relevé with your arms by your ears over your head. Now pull your arms up to the ceiling a little more, by pressing through the balls of your feet, squeezing your legs and bottom a little tighter and pulling up through your core. That little bit higher that you get is what extension feels like. You want to make sure you are extending as much as possible in each of your skills.
Tip #5: Eliminate Bobbles
You probably know this, but judges take deductions every time you bobble or have a balance check during your gymnastics routine. So how do you prevent bobbles?
We can use Samantha Peszek‘s 3 rules of Beam to help eliminate bobbles.
The 3 Rules of Beam are:
Find your Arms– You want your arms to be in alignment with the rest of your body, and you want them to be doing the same thing as each other. For example, if your left arm is lower than your right, it could cause you to become off balance and bobble. So find your arms during each skill and make sure they are doing what they should be!
Look at the End of the Beam– Keeping your eyes on the end of the beam will help you stay centered with your body over the beam and this will help eliminate bobbles.
Go to Home Base– Every skill has a home base position on beam, where if you’re in that position you will be safe from bobbling or falling. For a back walkover, it’s a lunge. For a jump, it’s with your legs together but slightly bent.
To follow this rule, after you complete each skill in your routine, you want to immediately find that skill’s home base position to prevent bobbles and balance errors.
Tip #6: Rise off the Beam
You probably already know that you need to get good height off the beam during your jumps, leaps and your dismount (if you are flipping off the beam), and that if you don’t you will get a deduction. But did you know that this also factors into whether you will get a dynamics deduction for your routine ? Judges want to see a routine that has energy where the skills get off the beam and not one that just falls flat.
So make sure you are pushing through your legs when you are jumping and leaping. It’s important to have good form during these skills, but it’s also important to get good height off the beam. You can practice this at home on a low beam or line.
Tip #7: Smile
Remember that artistry deduction I talked about earlier ? Judges want to see gymnasts that really “perform” during their routine. One of the ways you can do that is to smile during your routine. We want to make smiling and performing your routine a habit. How do we make sure you do it at meets ? By choreographing it in to your routine just like you would dance moves.
Watch a video of you doing your routine. Decide on a few places you will add in a nice smile. It could be when you do a pose, or your dance choreography. Then practice your routines with the smiles where you decided to add them. You can also use the words you say in your head during your routine to cue your smile.
Let’s use our example from before, that you do a split jump, two dance steps and then cartwheel in your routine. You’ve decided to add a smile on the first of the dance steps. In your head you could say “split, smile, step, point and cartwheel” to make sure you do it when you perform your routine.
Like we talked about in our recent article about how to have more confidence when you compete, talking yourself through your routines is important. You can use the words you say in your head to remind you to smile.
If you take the time to practice these 7 tips, I know you will be able to improve your beam routine and raise your score by a few tenths. To hold yourself accountable and make sure you do, make sure to join our 30 Day Improve your Beam Routine Challenge!