I think one thing we can all agree on as gymnasts is that we want to IMPROVE and make PROGRESS. There are lots of different things we can do to speed up the process of improving. Some of these include working out extra at home, doing extra strength exercises, and taking private lessons. But what is the most effective way of improving? What gets the most results?
I put together a case study of one gymnast’s incredible progress and improvement over the last year and a half, and what she did to achieve these results. The reason I want to share this example with you is because she wasn’t in the gym a crazy amount of hours (she has three 2-hour practices a week) or paying for expensive private lessons.
So, what she did, you can do too!
Over the course of a year and a half she was able to go from not being able to hold a handstand at all, to being able to hold a beautiful straight-body handstand for 24 seconds! She improved how far she could walk on her hands to a total of 36 steps with good form! She also improved her split leap by over 30°. You might be thinking, this is only progress on two skills. But these two skills showcase the overall progress she made, and how she is a much stronger, more flexible gymnast with much better form. This is evidenced by the fact that she improved her all-around score by over a point and a half and finished her season with a first place win at states!
A point and a half is incredible in a sport where it’s all tenths! I’m going to share with you how she got these awesome results, along with some of the drills she practiced.
The gymnast is Skye Tibbetts, a 12 year old from New Hampshire.
What was the key to her success? CONSISTENCY. Consistent effort every single day.
Skye used our SkillTrakker tool to consistently practice a little bit every day for the last 15 months. While we would love for you to join our SkillTrakker community (with the Summer “Camp” Challenge starting now,) which makes putting in daily effort easier with built in motivation tools, this case study isn’t meant to just be a sales pitch for SkillTrakker. I’m going to give you some of the SkillTrakker drills she has been doing, so that you can do them too!
Armed with the drills, the only one stopping you from putting in consistent effort every day will be you!
Now, let’s take a look at her progress:
She Transformed her Handstand with Poor Form to a Beautiful Handstand that She Can Hold and Control to Take Many Steps
Skye started out in December of 2017 with a handstand that looked like this:
And then with consistent, daily effort she improved over time:
Here is her current handstand:
She went from not being able to do a straight-body handstand to now being able to hold a beautiful, straight-body handstand for more than 24 seconds and take more than 36 steps!!
She Improved Her Split Leap from a 130° Leap with Bent Legs to a Beautiful Almost 180° Leap
Here is Skye’s split leap from the beginning of 2018:
As you can see, she has bent legs in her leap. When judging the angle of split in a leap, judges draw an imaginary line from the lowest body part on each leg to create the angle, so I would say this angle is about 130°.
She improved over time with consistent effort. She did drills to improve her active flexibility so that she can leap higher and bigger. She also learned a switch leap, which is a more advanced “B” skill.
Here is her leap now:
As you can see she does a beautiful, almost 180° split leap with straight legs!
She added almost 1.5 to her All-Around Score
Skye started out the season with a 36.7 all-around (a very respectable score!) and one gold medal at Judges Cup in November. At the end of the season she had added almost a full point and a half (1.475) to her all-around score to win the gold all-around with a 38.175 (a CRAZY good all-around score!) along with 3 other gold medals for a total of 4 first place finishes.
How are these results even possible with just an extra 15 minutes of practice a day ?
Putting in just 15 minutes a day of extra practice really adds up over time. You can see that after 20 months of doing daily SkillTrakker exercises, Skye has practiced an extra 152 hours, compared to if she was just going to her practice at the gym for 6 hours/week. 152 extra hours is equal to almost 6 months worth of her normal practice schedule!!
Imagine how much more you would improve compared to your teammates if you had an extra 6 months of practice!
So, how did she get these results?
Skye is one of the most dedicated gymnasts I’ve come into contact with. She does her extra SkillTrakker workouts every singe day, and she doesn’t just go through the motions–she makes sure she is doing the drills well and with good form. She also has an incredibly positive attitude and is always encouraging others! Her attitude is infectious and I know it helps her to stay motivated.
We do a bunch of different drills in SkillTrakker that have helped to improve Skye’s form, flexibility, strength and skill. I’ve listed out 3 of our favorite drills you can do at home to practice and improve your form and gymnastics skills.
3 Drills We Use Constantly in SkillTrakker to Help Achieve These Results
1. GymHQ Leap Complex #1: Do these down a mat or room. With your arms out to the side, chin up, kick forwards 20 times alternating legs (10 per side) while moving across the room. Kick backwards 20 times alternating legs. Then do 20 alternating split leaps (you can see in the video below at 1:12) and 20 straight leg skips (in the video below at 1:44). Make sure to do them with good form. This drill is great for improving your active flexibility which you need to increase the split in your split leap.
2. Tuck Opens to Handstand: You can see this exercise in the first part of the video below. Put your hands on the ground with your feet in front of you. Tuck your legs in and and then push them straight up to handstand. Then lower your feet to the ground. Repeat 10x. This drill is great for getting your body to be in a completely straight line in your handstand, so that you can hold it longer and have more control.
3. Pike Drag-Ups with Exercise Ball
Get in a plank position with your shins on an exercise ball. Do a pike drag up by moving your hips so they are over your hands, and in the process move the ball forward. The video is below. Do them with your hands flat on the ground, not with hand rockers like in the video. Repeat 8x. This drill is great because it increases core strength along with helping you learn how to stay tight and control your body.
All of these drills you can do at home with a spare 10-15 minutes a day. These drills will help you improve your form, your active flexibility, and your strength- all important if you want to improve your gymnastics skills.
Do you have an extra 15 minutes a day that you could spend working in order to achieve your gymnastics goals? If you do, and want to spend your summer improving and making great progress, makes sure you join our SkillTrakker Summer “Camp” Challenge where for the next 60 days we will be learning and improving our switch leaps and press handstands!