Parallel Bars - Basics


Back off tucked
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Back uprise
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  • A strong upper arm support and swing should be developed.
  • The shoulders should be behind the elbows and the arms should be in an obtuse angle. Gymnasts (especially younger gymnasts) tend to put their shoulders close to their hands.
  • The push should be initiated late in the swing, and when it does occur it is an aggressive rapid push.
Basket swing
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  • The basket swing is difficult to understand for newer gymnasts.
  • Start the gymnast doing basket swings on a single rail. This forces them to stay piked, and it is easier to understand the swing.
  • On the parallel bars have the gymnast hold a tight pike, looking at their knees. Then the swing should be initiated by pulling and pushing with the arms. (Not to a bend, but shuttled to generate swing)
  • Once the gymnast can generate some swing with their arms they should begin to pump the swing by piking tightly on the downward phases and opening on the upward phases.
Forward roll
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  • No drills yet available for this skill.
Kip (single rail)
  • The gymnast should have a strong kip on a bar. The kip on the single rail is made more difficult by the other bar not allowing for full compression.
  • A slight false grip will help to get to support.
  • The gymnast should concentrate on kipping very late. Keep well extended until after the rearward swing is initiated, then kip very aggressively.
Layaway to swing
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  • A strong layaway to a swing is essential for p-bars, yet is frequently done incorrectly hindering under-bar work.
  • Set up an 8" mat perpendicular to the bars leaning against the inside of one pair of uprights. Have the gymnast start in an open hollow support with their feet on the bars, and hands over the inside edge of the mat. They can then kick their feet off the bar and swing down into the mat. The gymnast should remain hollow until just before hitting the mat.
  • One of the biggest hindrances to a layaway is the fear of peeling. If the gymnast is arched as they initiate the swing there is a significantly increased chance of peeling. The downward swing should be hollow, and extended in the shoulders.
Moy to upper arm
  • Develop a good layaway to swing
  • Once the gymnast has a decent swing the moy is simply a matter of riding the swing up and throwing the bars back.
  • A lot of gymnasts will try to release the bars early, the throw must occur near the peak of the swing otherwise the skill will travel forward too much, and not high enough for completion.
  • To land the moy in a piked upper arm support the swing must be more aggressive, and a substantial tap must occur on the upwards phase of the swing. Many gymnasts will lift their hips rather than their toes upon release.
Support swing
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  • As a gymnast begins to learn a basic swing it should be stressed that getting their feet high is not their primary goal.
  • Gymnasts have a tendency to pike in the front of the swing to get their feet above the bars. This ends up killing the swing. The gymnasts body should be straight from shoulders to toes with special consideration to pushing the shoulders back and hips up in the front swing.
  • As the swing develops the gymnast should hollow in the back swing and push their shoulders down.
  • The gymnast should shrug their shoulders through the bottom of the swing. This will create a more solid base for the swing and enable the swing to "pop" as skills are attempted.
Upper arm swing
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  • New gymnasts will complain incessantly about the pain these swings cause. The key to minimizing the pain is aggressively pushing down with the arms so the shoulders are well above the bars.
  • Most gymnasts will have a tendency to bend their arms to the point where their shoulders are very close to their hands. The arms should be bent at a little more than a 90 degree angle.
  • Upper arm shrugs will help strengthen this position.
  • It is important for the heels to lead in the rear swing for backuprises, forward rolls, and similar skills.