As coaches, we are constantly trying to figure out ways to reduce the risk of injury. We do this by participating in injury prevention training, adding injury prevention exercises into our workouts, and teaching athletes how to fall correctly.
At Pinnacle, learning how to fall (and land) is in every level’s lesson plans.
Let’s start with Safe Landing. This skill requirement involves the ability to land a skill or dismount with feet under hips, knees bent, chest up, abs tight, head neutral, arms at chest height. Athletes create a lot of force when they increase speed and height. This added force then returns with them when they land. Teaching this position allows the energy they created in motion to properly dispel when it hits the ground. When athletes land correctly, they are less prone to injury.
What if you don’t land on your feet?
Most falls in the real world (and in gymnastics), don’t progress slowly from your feet to the ground. They happen quickly. Instincts kick in and we are lucky to think in the split second before we hit the ground.
In gymnastics, falls are inevitable. Part of learning a new skill involves messing up time and time again. Most of the time, the new skill attempts are benign: falling on your bottom learning a cartwheel, falling to your knees when learning a back handspring.
Knowing how to fall, and teaching it until we are blue in the face, helps our athletes make instinctual decisions that are safe. In our classes, you will frequently see our athletes cross their arms across their chest and fall to their backs onto a mat or other soft surface. The point of this drill is to reduce the instinct to reach out your arm when you fall (also one of the key ways to hurt your arm/elbow).
The repetition of these techniques, safe landing and proper falling, makes your athlete safer not only in the gym but also on the playground, soccer field, and other action packed activities that kids enjoy.
When you enroll in gymnastics, you are teaching your child skills that carry far beyond the walls of the gym.