In gymnastics, a turn is one of the main components of both beam and floor routines. You may think that as a gymnast you don’t really need to worry about dance moves. But, that is definitely not true! Starting as a level 2 gymnast (90° heel snap turn on floor) all the way to a level 10 gymnast (minimum of 360° turn on one foot on beam) you are required to do some type of turn in your beam or floor routines. While this article will focus on how to do a full turn on both floor and beam, these exercises and drills will be helpful when you are trying to learn any gymnastics turn.
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In a full turn, your body will turn 360° while standing in relevé on one foot. Standing in relevé means to be standing on the ball of your foot, with your body making a straight line from your knee all the way to the ball of your foot. You can either start from a point (one foot in front of you pointed), or a lunge (one leg in front of you bent with weight on it).
Your other foot can be in a variety of positions during the turn, including passé (foot at knee), coupé (foot at ankle) position or straight in front of you for a more advanced turn. Your arms can be out in front of you in a curved position during the turn, or overhead in a crown position.
When you turn, make sure you turn outwards. So if you are a right-y, and are turning on your right foot, you will turn to the right. And if you are a left-y, and are turning on your left foot, you will turn to the left. Make sense?
After you have turned and are standing facing forwards in high relevé, step forwards with your other foot, and finish the turn.
It takes the right muscles, along with practice, to be able to perform a beautiful controlled full turn.
Muscles you need for a Full Turn
You need strong legs and core muscles to be able to do a perfect full turn.
Legs: You need strong legs to be able to hold your body in high relevé.
Core: You need strong core muscles to be able to turn your body with control.
Exercises You can Do at Home
Lunges: Lunges strengthen your leg muscles, which you need to be able to hold a high relevé. To do a lunge stand with your legs together and your hands on your hips (or if you are using weights with your arms beside you). Your back should be straight and you should be looking in front of you. Step one foot forward and bend both legs until your back leg is almost touching the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure your front knee is above your ankle, and that your back knee doesn’t touch the floor. Stand up and repeat with the other leg.
Calf Raises: Calf raises are a great exercise because they mimic the motion of rising into relevé in your full turn. You can do calf raises on the stairs, or just on the floor. To do them on the stairs stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of the stairs with your heels hanging off the edge. Make sure you are holding onto a railing. You can do them with both of your feet together, or one leg at a time. Either way, lift your heels up until you are standing on the ball of your feet, and then lower your heels until they are in line with the balls of your feet to complete the repetition. If you are doing them on the floor, raise up onto the balls of your feet, and then lower back to the floor to complete the repetition.
Planks: Planks help to strengthen the core muscles you need to control your body in your full turn. You can do a plank exercise from either your wrists or your elbows. When you are in the plank position you want to be squeezing your legs, butt and core. Your shoulders should be over your elbows, and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet. As you are squeezing all your muscles and maintaining a straight-body position, make sure to breathe!
Drills for Learning a Full Turn on Both Floor and Beam
Hold on One Leg in High Relevé: You should be able to stand in a tight-body position in high relevé for at least 8 seconds. During this time your arms should be where they will be for the turn, in front of you or above your head in crown. You can see this drill in the video above.
Turn from one Knee: Practice doing a full turn from one knee to learn how to control the movement. Stand up from kneeling on one knee and without putting your back foot down, turn. You will be forced to use your leg and core muscles to control the spin in the turn.
Preparation and Finish: One drill you can practice at home is basically the turn without the turn. Practice the preparation for the turn, whether you start in a lunge or point, the high relevé hold for 8 seconds and the finish. Focus on your form during this drill. Practicing this over and over will make it easy to do perfectly when you do it in your routine.
Tools for Learning a Full Turn
Light Weights: You can use light weights when doing your lunges, or calf raises to add resistance.
Low Beam: A low beam is helpful for learning a full turn on beam. You always want to learn the skill first on a low beam before taking it to the high beam. You can also use a low beam to practice the skill for floor, so that you know you are doing a full turn in a straight line.
Foam Beam: A foam beam is great for practicing at home and before you want to do a skill on the low beam.
A full turn is a great skill to practice at home since there is relatively low risk of injury. It’s also a skill that can make a big impact on your routine when performed perfectly. If you practice the drills and do the exercises above, I have no doubt that you will be on your way to mastering a beautiful, perfect full turn.