The wolf turn is a popular skill among high level gymnasts. While some people say that Lauren Mitchell invented the wolf turn she originally did in her 2008 Olympic beam routine, the wolf turn has been around for much longer than that. In 1966, Natalia Kuchinskaya competed a single wolf turn in the World Championships and also in the 1968 Olympics. Since the 1960’s, many gymnasts competed the wolf turn, however, with Michell’s triple wolf turn in her 2008 Olympic routine, it has made a comeback.
What is a wolf turn?
A wolf turn is a skill performed on beam or floor. The gymnast starts in a squat position over 1 leg while her other leg is stretched out to the side (or facing forwards on the beam with her leg behind her) completely straight. The gymnast then rotates in a turn 1, 2, or 3 full rotations ending in the starting position. While difficult on both beam and floor, the skill is obviously more difficult on beam, since the surface is only 4″ wide.
Why is the wolf turn so popular?
While the wolf turn is a difficult skill to complete, and even more difficult to actually make look good, why do we see so many elite and Olympic gymnasts adding the triple wolf turn to their routines? It’s actually a very simple reason: the added point value for difficulty. Elite and Olympic gymnasts alike often add a double or triple wolf turn to their floor and beam routines to bulk up their difficulty value since it also fulfills the requirement for a turn. The added difficulty value makes it worth adding the skill that so many gymnasts despise.
Point value of the wolf turn
Competed on both beam and floor, the wolf turn has different difficulty values depending on a few different things: how many turns the gymnast completes and which event it is performed on.
|1/1 Wolf Turn||B||B|
|1 1/2 Wolf Turn||C||C|
|2/1 Wolf Turn||D||D|
|3/1 Wolf Turn||–||E|
With this skill, gymnasts are able to increase the value of their routine. It’s important to note that beginning in 2022, gymnasts will no longer be able to add multiple wolf turns to their routines, which will eliminate the triple-double wolf turns in routines. The skill is typically performed sideways on the beam, however, it can also be performed forward facing – we saw the forward facing wolf turn from Elvira Saadi in the 1972 Olympics.
How to do a wolf turn
Start in a tuck stand on your favorite leg. Make sure your ankle is strong and aligned right under your thigh. Tip: rotate your hip/leg out as far as possible and allow your flexibility to work for you – the more open your starting position is in the hips, the easier the turn will be.
Extend out your free leg completely straight to the side.
Rotate all of the way around in a 360º turn ending in your starting position.
There are variations of the wolf turn that include a 1 1/2 turn (540º turn), a 1 3/4 turn (630º turn ), a 2/1 (720º turn), a 2 1/2 turn (900º turn), and a 3/1 (1080º turn). The wolf turn can also be completed starting with your extended leg behind you and facing straight forward on the beam.
Drills for the wolf turn
Drill 1: Wolf Taps
Start in the wolf turn position, with one leg holding your weight and your other leg forward in front of you. Extend your arms out to the side in a “T”. Lift your extended leg up and down, tapping the beam. This will help you gain balance and control to complete the wolf turn.
Drill 2: 1/4 Wolf Drill
Starting in a wolf turn position, rotate your free leg forward in front of you. Extend your arms out to the side in a “T”. Rotate back to the starting position. This drill will challenge your core and back balance and stability to help you complete the wolf turn.
Drill 3: 1/2 Wolf Drill
Start in a wolf turn position with your free leg as far open as possible, arms in turn position. Rotate around in a 1/2 turn in a squatted wolf turn position. As you gain balance and control of the 1/2 turn, you can progress to the full 1/1 wolf turn.
Tip: Focus on keeping your arms straight in turn positioning. This will help with your balance and control.
Drills to Strengthen Hip Flexors for a Wolf Turn
Drill 1: Leg Up & Overs
Start in a straddle position on the floor with your hands in front of you – don’t lean back. You’ll have 2 objects on the floor – one in front of each leg, between your knee and ankle. Raise your legs up in a straddle with straight legs, and over the object, into a smaller straddle. Make sure to keep your legs straight! Then just raise up and back over the object into the bigger straddle and repeat.
Drill 2: V-ups
Lay on the floor in a straight body position with arms and legs extended. Do a crunch with your arms and legs extended straight up into a “v” position. Try to get your head and legs as close as possible while maintaining a straight body position.
Drill 3: Pike Holds
You can do these on paralettes or just on the floor. The goal is to keep your legs parallel to the floor. Sit in a pike position on the floor. Extend your arms straight either on the floor or on paralettes until your bottom and legs are raised off of the ground in a 90º pike position. Hold for as long as you can.
We hope you’ve found this post helpful! Can you do a wolf turn? If so, how many can you do? Make sure to tag us on Instagram @gymnasticshq
Gymnast in videos: @alyssa.jade_b