The Front Handspring step-out, also known as the Front Walk-over in cheerleading and dance is a common skill and one that is used often in combination tumbling passes. It is also considered an elegant skill, if performed correctly, but difficult to learn properly for many athletes. Here I will share my thoughts and techniques that has worked well in teaching this skill.
As with so many skills, it is important to learn the prerequisites first so the student has the ability to learn the Front Handspring correctly. These prerequisites include, but not limited to, the handstand, bridge, lunge, and hurdle step.
There are several factors that go into play when developing these types of skills. For this particular skill, flexibility certainly is one of the most important factors. This flexibility concerns primarily the legs, back, and shoulders. Arm and body positioning is another factor that must be accomplished for a positive result. And finally, strength and aggression are important.
The front limber is a skill that should be introduced and learned prior to learning the front handspring. This will prepare the student in understanding the dynamics of the skill. There are several good drills used in learning the front limber. The most effective drill that has worked well for my students is the bridge “rock and stand” motion. This should be spotted by a qualified coach through the developmental stages.
While the student is in the bridge position, they will rock back and forth and as they rock toward the feet, have them stand upward making sure the student keeps their eyes on the floor and not looking upward or forward. Upon the finish of the skill, the body should be in a slightly arched position.
Once the student understands the front limber, they are ready to begin learning the front walkover. The concept is very similar to the front limber, however, the student will keep their legs split throughout the skill and land on one leg. This is where flexibility plays a major roll. The farther the student can split their legs, the easier it is for the student to land with the lead leg under the torso. Shoulder flexibility also plays a roll which will allow the student to place the lead foot close to the hands.
When the student has learned (or trained and understands) the front walkover, they would be ready to perform the skill from a run and hurdle step. It is critical that the student has a proper hurdle step in order to perform the front handspring The Hurdle Step The Key Ingredient. Arms should be straight and extended up above the head and ears throughout the skill.
The arms should reach well in front of the body when placing the hands on the floor. It is important that the shoulders do not rock in front of the hands. The arms should remain straight and should create a blocking action (bounce) off the floor. The block should be felt on the palms of the hands (if the shoulders rock forward upon placing hands on the floor, the pressure would be on the fingers preventing the blocking motion).
The finish of the skill should be the same as in the standing front walkover. The major difference between the front walkover and front handspring step-out is the blocking motion off the arms. The stronger the blocking motion, the more momentum created for connecting skills.
If the students follow this type of training progression, they will learn the skill effectively. It will take time and consistency but the results should be positive. It is always important to remember to follow the proper techniques so the students will not develop bad habits.
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