AT THE BEGINNING
There are two fundamental skills that must be realized to establish a foundation for advanced twisting somersaults. These skills are the barani (front somersault with early ½ half twist) and the backward somersault with one twist. The twisting action must be learned in the same direction for both front and backward somersaults. This will become a problem with advanced multiple twisting multiple somersaults if ignored. At this point, it is assumed that the front and back somersaults have been accomplished.
It is important to remember the concept, “somersault first, twist second” while learning the twisting single somersault. Failure to follow this idiom may well lead to no somersault and all twist. The outcome could be disastrous, resulting in a headfirst landing which is not advisable when performed over a solid landing surface. The somersault, to be efficient, must originate from the take-off surface. This is not necessarily true with the twisting phase of the skill.
During the execution of one or more somersaults when the twisting action is contained in the first somersault, it is more efficient to initiate the twisting action from the take-off surface as well. As the number of twists increase, the greater the surface initiation. Proper execution of skills with twists in the first somersault gives the appearance that the twist is initiated while airborne when in fact it is not. It is possible however, to initiate twisting action in a single somersault while in flight.
The introduction of rotary motion (somersaulting) around the lateral axis presents the potential for twisting around the longitudinal (long) axis while airborne. A simple test to illustrate this point has been developed and consists of the following steps. The athlete must be able to perform a ¾ back somersault with a landing on the stomach.
1. The athlete performs a ¾ (270°) backward somersault with ½ twist (180º) to a back landing on a trampoline.
2. Observe the performance from one side.
3. Have the athlete perform the ½ twist at the command left or right when the body reaches the perpendicular (inverted) position to the surface of the trampoline.
4. No pre-notification of the direction of twisting is given to the athlete.
5. The athlete must follow the command and twist in the direction given.
6. Repeat this procedure ten times to offset any guesswork by the athlete. It will become clear on completion of this exercise that twisting action can be initiated in a somersault without the use of the take-off surface.
When twisting occurs in the latter phase of multiple somersaults, the twist/twists are executed after the body becomes airborne. This late twisting is quite common in the sport of Trampoline and is becoming very popular in other aerial sports. Examples of this technique are seen in a variety of fliffis skills (multiple somersaults with ½ or more twists). Athletes in these disciplines are finding that late twisting multiple somersaults are more stable and consistent. Eye contact with the landing surface throughout the last twisting somersault magnifies the potential for adjustment on landing. This cannot be said of the multiple somersaults with early twists as sighting the landing occurs late in the last somersault and for a shorter period, IF AT ALL!
Twisting, when introduced in the later somersaults of multiple somersaults, should begin at the completion of the previous 360° of rotation around the lateral (somersaulting) axis. The initiation of twisting action is best accomplished during the first 90° of rotation around the lateral axis of that particular somersault. If twisting begins prior to this position, under rotation of the somersault is usually the result. If it occurs after, over rotation is often the outcome.
Look where you are going or you may not arrive there.
Using the concept of eye contact with the take-off and landing surface during the learning phase of the forward and backward twisting somersault is often misunderstood. Confusion is shared by both the coach and athlete when the procedure is first introduced. The area of confusion is an unexpected termination of the twisting action at approximately ½ twist. For a newcomer to the technique, the problem is confusing but easily overcome when properly diagnosed.
While performing front or back twisting somersaults, sighting the surface below must not be confined to one central point as is the case with a barani (front somersault with early ½ twist). When the athlete sights a fixed point, the twisting action is not functional beyond the ½ twist around the longitudinal (long) axis. When the twisting action reaches approximately 180° and the eyes are focused on a single location, the head will not continue to turn in the direction of the twist. At this point, the head begins to turn in the opposite direction of the intended twist. The body cannot continue to turn in the appropriate direction with the head now moving in the opposite direction. This counter movement disrupts the twisting action.
While learning the full twisting forward somersault, the athlete will, in some cases, twist 180° in one direction and 180° in the opposite direction giving the athlete the sensation of a complete 360° twist in the same direction. This predicament also occurs with the backward twisting somersault. The coach, at times, may not be aware of the reversed direction of the twist. Perhaps, the most common advanced skill in which this phenomenon occurs is the ½ in, ½ out fliffis; (Double backward somersault with ½ twist in the first somersault, and ½ twist in the second).
Visualization is not endemic and, in most cases, must be taught. To correct this dilemma in single somersaults with one twist, the athlete must learn not to visually concentrate on one central location of the landing surface. Since a twisting skill is being learned, it follows that the performer should have a circular view of the area below rather that a central point. In other words, “look where you are going.” The head must continue to turn in the same direction around the longitudinal (long) axis as the arms and body. This must continue throughout the duration of the skill. On completion of the twisting somersault, the athlete can then fixate on one central point for the landing.
Athletes who accomplish twisting somersault skills with the visualization technique will enjoy a decided advantage over their contemporaries. They will have extensive knowledge of the concept and function of spatial awareness. “Seeing where you are going” is a decided advantage to the user during both success and failure. Visualization will lead to success in performing a skill of grace, and the saving of one’s neck in failure. If sighting the landing area is an established habit, a learned skill, then the outcome of the performance is more readily predictable.