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Gymnastics taught correctly is an excellent tool for developing body

management skills and preparing participants for many physical pursuits. Once
students can manage their own bodies with a degree of skill they can
subsequently better control manoeuvre themselves with an implement (racket,
bat) or themselves plus a projectile (ball, javelin). Furthermore they can better
control themselves in different mediums (snow, water) or better handle
themselves plus an opponent.

Olympic gymnastics as seen on television is a highly skilled and competitive

sport. This form of gymnastics should be left to be taught in gymnastics clubs
with accredited coaches. The function of a school gymnastic programme should
be to provide rewarding and safe environment in which students can learn to
control their bodies in a variety of situations. The aim is to encourage
participation regardless of weight, size, gender or ability of students.

The current Gymnastics in Schools programme is based on the Dominant

Movement Pattern (DMP) approach. These are:


By teaching the six dominant movement patterns (the lowest common

denominator of all gymnastics skills), the students are learning the building
blocks for more complex skills and they can develop the body control necessary
for efficient movement in all areas of life. For example, take a mark in football
(spring and landing), hold a defence position in netball (static), perform a
somersault dive off a springboard (spring and rotation).

The S.P.A.C.E approach is used for the introduction of skills and their practice to
gymnastics. Its a logical progression of teaching from the simple to more
difficult aspects of the skill.

S What skill progressions can be used to teach the whole skill? How will you
break the skill down into smaller parts?

P What physical preparation is necessary to acquire the skill?

A What are the appropriate key teaching points (KTPs) to teach this skill?

C What are the common errors when learning the skills?

E How can the teacher evaluate when the student is ready to progress


The purpose of a warm up is to prepare both the body and the mind for the
activities that will follow in the training session and so minimize the risk of

The warm up should involve continuous aerobic type activity the increase the
blood flow and the body temperature. Follow this with stretching activities for all
the major joints and muscle groups to loosen up the body this should not be
confused with increasing flexibility, where the stretches are held for a longer
period of time.

The length of the warm up and its intensity will vary according to the age and
ability of the student and the overall length of the lesson.

Principles of a good warm up

Involve everyone
Be quick and easy to organise
Use variety to maintain enthusiasm
Make it fun by using games and challenges

Safety and injury prevention

Allow adequate spacing

Ensure the environment is safe e.g. mats slipping
Static stretches only (no bouncing or forcing the stretch)
Do not overstretch. Hold the stretch to the point of tension and this
tension should subside over time.
Do not hold your breath in stretches
Take care with lower back and knees

A well rounded Gymnastics Programme will enhance:

Physical abilities such as flexibility, strength, muscular endurance and

Motor abilities such as balance, spatial orientation, coordination and

This allows students to become more confident and efficient movers and these
skills can be transferred to all areas of life.

Gymnastics places physiological demands on the body e.g. a handstand requires

strength and flexibility, and part of the programme should be dedicated to
developing the bodys ability to cope with these demands.

The importance of physical preparation

Reduces the incidence of injury

Allows faster more accurate skill acquisition
Reduces the incidence of muscle soreness
Allows a prolonged period of quality participation
Helps rapid recovery from fatigue

Implementation into the programme

When planning your gymnastics programme, you should identify which skills will
be taught as part of a DMP and then ensure that the adequate physical
preparation has been covered before attempting to teach that skill.

The components of physical preparation

FLEXIBILITY the range of motion around a joint

STRENGTH the amount of force that a muscle or group of muscles can
ENDURANCE prolonged work with a localised muscle group
POWER explosive force. Strength plus speed
AEROBIC cardio vascular fitness

Some or all of these components should be developed every lesson. Strength

and flexibility are particularly pertinent to most gymnastic skills and these two
components will be a focus when working on the physical preparation needed to
perform a skill.

When do you teach physical preparation?

Physical conditioning work may be included as part of the warm up, as part of a
circuit or while they are waiting for a turn at an activity during the skill
development section of your lesson.

Suggestions for introducing physical preparation

Make it fun ask a class to do 10 push up and they groan. Disguise the
push ups in a game or challenge and they will do 30 without noticing
Activities should be easy and quick to organise
Use music
Use small apparatus e.g. balls, hoops, beanbags, witches hats
Use the playground
Use a mixture of single, partner and group activities

Strategies for dealing with individual differences in the class

Vary the physical demand of the activity by changing:

The number of repetitions or time on the task

The length of the rest period
The texture of the surface
The heights
The body position
Divide the body into three sections upper, torso, lower

Then collate and number a variety of individual, partner and group activities and
games that can be used to develop these areas.

For e.g.


Strength Flexibility Endurance

1. Push-ups 1.Deltoid stretch 1. Boxing

2. Chin-ups 2.Tricep stretch 2.Rowing

3. Bicep curls 3. Neck 3.swimming


Strength Flexibility Endurance

1. Plank 1. Cobra 1. Running

2. stups 2. Side stretch 2. Skipping

3. Hollow 3. Scorpion 3. Boxing


Strength Flexibility Endurance

1. Leg press 1. Hamstring stretch 1. Running

2. Squats 2.Calf stretch 2. Cycling

3. Ralf Raise 3.Groin Stretch 3. Skipping

Choose 3 activities above and modify them as below:


Upper body Band chin-ups Weighted belt Piggie back

chin-ups chin-ups
Torso Plank on knees Weighted plank Linked arm
Lower body Calf raise Calf raise Donkey calf
supported weighted raises

A well planned circuit is an excellent way to get maximum participation from

your students especially when there is limited equipment.

A circuit is a closed loop of several situations with activities set out at each
station. It may be used to develop progressions towards a skill, to practice a
new skill, to allow exploration of movement, or to revise skills from past lessons.

It is beneficial in that activity levels are high, it allows students to be

autonomous in their learning and it can leave the teacher free to roam and
focus in on problem areas.

The organisation of the circuit can vary depending on the desired outcome.
Students may perform the station activity once and move on to the next station
or they may remain at one station for a designated time then move on as

Suggestions for planning circuits

Stations need to be well spaced and designed to flow around the circuit
Ensure landing areas are clear from other students and any hand
Select stations so that only one (if any) activity will require constant
Include in the plan how you will group the students and how they will
move around the circuit


Dominant Movement Patterns (DMPs) are the patterns that re-occur in

gymnastics. They are the building blocks for more complex skills. Once these
building blocks are mastered the students can progress laterally with variety or
vertically, with difficulty.

The grouping of activities into the six DMPs


enables the teacher to better understand the biomechanical principles that

relate to efficient movement and to formulate Key Teaching Points (KTPs) that
will carry over from one skill to the next.
The DMP approach provides a framework that develops from simple to complex
for the teaching of movement. It assists the teacher to decide what to teach
and in what order.


This includes all the held and still positions in gymnastics and should be the
starting point for your teaching.

Statics can be divided into three categories:

SUPPORTS shoulders above the apparatus

HANGS shoulders below the apparatus

BALANCES using a small base of support

Once the supports and balances are competent on the floor students can then
progress to partner and group balances and supports and balances on


1. Stand with good posture

Standing with glutes activated, shoulders back and chin up

2. Front support

Shoulders over hands and squeeze bottom

3. Back support

Point toes, glutes activated

4. Stork stand
Big toe touches your knee, straight standing leg, arms either up or on hips

5. Tuck sit

One hand on each leg, kees to chest, back straight


6. V sit

Arms behind, legs straight and pointing to the roof

7. Shoulder stand

Feet, knees and hips in a line, hands holding hips

8. Front scale

One leg slightly bent, back leg pointed back and chest up


The ability to maintain a fixed shape and be able to eliminate unnecessary body
movements is a prerequisite for efficient movement and is an important factor
in the prevention of injury. Correct posture is also aesthetically pleasing.


Lift the plank

Shake the tin soldier

Crack the egg

Physical Preparation

Shoulder strength, core strength,

Skill Progressions / Lead up Drills KTPs

1. tuck sit

2. front support

3. bunny hop. Knees together, two feet take-off and lading, straight arms

4. tuck handstand.

5. scorpion. One-foot take-off to one-foot landing. Same foot landing

6. half handstand. One leg handstand, feet knees shoulders and hops in line

7. full handstand. Two feet together

common errors: bent arms, poor body position in

Walking and handsprings, backflips, cartwheels, round of

Once the basic static positions have been taught these can be practiced and
improved by providing a variety of tasks, which use the static positions
Revise during warm up using games such as musical statues holding a
static position when the music stops, or play tag and hold a static position
till someone releases you.

Make a station in a circuit the static that relates to the skill being taught or
as a revision have a whole circuit set up with statics stations.

Make up a sequence using static position using different body parts and
different levels.

Work with a partner and make up a sequence using four different statics.
Perfect with precise timing and exact images.

Try the same task in fours.

Work with a partner, explore ways you can both perform the same static
but part of one person must be resting on the other.

Try the same in fours.



What is their value?

Enhances spatial and body awareness

Students (especially teenagers) really enjoy exploring the challenge
They encourage communication and cooperation
Develops trust and timing in balance
They are useful contributors to strength development
Encourages good body tension as this must be maintained to balance
body positions
Reinforces the principles of stability e.g. wide base of support, and vertical
alignment of arms and legs so that the line of gravity runs through the
base of support
Develops skills that can be used in display work


Match pairs for height and weight

Not suitable for younger children because of weight bearing
Exit procedure must be planned
Mats must be used
Use hand to hand or hand to wrist grip, monkey grip is not safe
Avoid inverted balances until the basics are mastered
Do not allow pyramids higher than two persons in the school environment

This DMP includes the activities which involve projecting oneself into the air and
requires the physical ability of power i.e. explosive take off. The spring activities
that will be covered are:

1. Feet to feet jumps

2. Feet to one foot leaps
3. Feet to hands bunny hops, leap frogs and basic vaults


Ensure correct landing technique before taking any springing activities up

onto a height
Mats must be placed so there are no joins along the line of landing
Confident body management is a prerequisite for activities involving
height and flight
Firm matting is required for activities which involve springing from hands



Explosive take off is required

The balls of the feet strike first with the heels making only momentary
This is followed by rapid extension of ankle and knee joints and a strong
swing of the arms in an upward and forward direction
Trunk is stable and upright and at no stage should there be any arch in the
students lower back



Straight Body - shoulders back, arms in the air, legs together toes pointed,
Jump off two feet and land on two feet, good body tension


Arms out straight, legs out straight and tows pointed, good body tension


Knees to chest, hands holding knees in, knees together


Arms in the air, one leg straight, one leg knee out in front and bent, toes
pointed, lad on two feet from a two-foot take-off


Arms in the air, one leg in front and one leg behind, jump off two feet and land
on one

Jump half / full turn

Straight body, toes pointed, arms tucked, jump off two feet and land on two feet


Two feet take-off, split legs in the air, opposite directions straight legs, land
finishing on the front leg (in an arabesque)


Cat / scissor

Step on one leg, kick up in front of your body in a bent, turned out position,
Spring onto the other leg performing the same bent, turned out leg, finish by
bringing the last leg down, placing it on the floor.


One-foot take off one foot landing, Arms out like aeroplane, Legs straight
split legs in air
Change leg

Step on the right foot, Kick the left leg out in front of you, Swish the left leg
backwards to kick the right leg out in front, Land on the right leg in front, Ensure
straight legs and arms are up in the air


Step on left leg, Kick right leg out to face the front with a quarter turn, Then kick
the left leg out as well (ensuring both legs are in the air, straight and at an equal
height), Then land the jump on your right leg then left leg, and turn behind
yourself to the left to finish


Safe landings could be one of the most important life skills you will teach your
students. The categories of landings that will be covered in this course are:

1. Landing on feet
2. Landing on hands
3. Landing sideways
4. Landing backwards

The basic principle of safe landing is to soften the impact on the body joints
especially the lower back. This is achieved by absorbing the landing forces over
as much time and as large a body surface as possible.


Ensure adequate matting not too hard or soft

Reduce frequency of landing on wrists
Dont land sideways from a height
Ensure competence on the floor before progressing to a height

1. LAND ON FEET (motor bike landing)


Feet should be shoulder width apart

Contact first with balls of feet then roll through to heels and bend and the
knees and hips to finish as if sitting on a motor bike (toe, heel, knee, hips)
Do not bend past 90
Ensure the heels stay planted on the floor


i. Very low jump. Absorb impact on toes to heels

ii. Add on bent knees
iii. Run and jump as high as possible and land correctlyg
iv. Land on benches with straight jumps
v. Add variety by changing the body shapes in the air
vi. Gradually increase the height of take off, make sure heels stay on the




Hands are placed shoulder width apart

Contact first with fingers then roll through to heel of the hand and bend
the elbows
Turn the head to one side so you dont face plant


i. From kneeling, slowly fall forward to absorb force through fingers, palms
and bend elbows
ii. Increase the speed of the fall
iii. When confident try from crouch stand, then from a front scale / arabesque



Hand position
- Right hand facing down, left hand facing up
Arm position
- Right arm is straight to the side, left arm in front of chest
Absorb force through
Left shoulder touches floor, then back then right shoulder and then up on


i. Start on knees then as confidence grows, progress to stand (Jump off

something, land, then do a sideways roll)



Hand position

Hands facing down backwards

Arm position

Arms out to the side like a plane

Arms straight

Absorb force through

Lowerback touches floor first, then upper back then onto knees.


i. Start from squat and slowly fall just to shoulders

ii. Roll to shoulders and turn head to one side to watch knees touch the mat.
Repeat to the other side.
iii. Perform back safety roll from squat down incline
iv. Practice on floor from squat
v. Progress to starting from stand, then with a jump and landing off balance
to continue to safety roll
vi. As students develop competence jump backwards from a low height and
continue into back safety roll.

SPRING (cont)

i. Hurdle step on floor KTPs

- Step
- Arm circle backwards
- Jump 2 feet onto equipment (floor)
- Jump
- Land 2 feet

ii. Hurdle using hoops

- Step
- Arm circle backwards
- Jump 2 feet onto equipment (hoop)
- Jump
- Land 2 feet

iii. From low height to board

- Step
- Arm circle backwards
- Jump 2 feet onto equipment (board)
- Jump
- Land 2 feet

iv. From board up onto low height

- Step
- Arm circle backwards
- Jump 2 feet onto equipment (board)
- Jump
- Land 2 feet


i. Bench to rebounder to mat

ii. Floor to tilted rebounder to mat
iii. Bench to mini tramp to mat
iv. Floor to mini tramp to mat


Always keep the landing area clear

Use a crash mat preferably with an over run mat at the end
Mini tramp activities must be supervised. If leaving the area turn the
apparatus upside down or place in locked storage area
Confident body management and sound landings are a prerequisite for
mini tramp activities
The metal frame must be covered by a frame pad
Always check the apparatus is safe and stable before used by students

List different jumps that can be done off a beat board or mini tramp


- Straight jumps
- Tuck jumps
- Star jumps
- Half turns
- Full turns
- Front sult
- Stag jumps
- Straddle jumps
- Pike jumps


i. Bunny jumps along the floor. Increase the distance of the spring
ii. Bunny hop between two parallel benches
iii. Bunny jumps onto bench
iv. Bunny jumps over low bench



- Run
- Arm circle backwards
- Jump 2 feet on beat board
- Hands wide on the box
- Knees/feet on the box
- Land 2 feet off box



- Run
- Arm circle backwards
- Jump 2 feet on beat board
- Hands close together on the box
- Feet wide on box
- Legs straight
- Land 2 feet

Plan a circuit with SIX stations that allows practice of landing techniques.
Include TWO point form notes on KTPs for each station, describe briefly the
group organisation and indicate with a T where the teacher would stand.


Locomotion is moving from one space to another. The three categories that will
be covered are:

1. Locomotions on feet: running, jumping, skipping

2. Locomotions in hang: (shoulders are below base of support) monkey walk
3. Locomotions in support: (shoulders above the base of support) bear walks,
crab walks cartwheels


Locomotion can be done with a partner

Motivate and add interest with music
Add variety by changing rhythm, levels and speed
When locomotions have been mastered on the floor, they can be taken up
onto apparatus
Revise locomotions during warm up
Use various locomotions to move around stations in a circuit
Use animal walks in relays

This DMP is represented by any turn or spin around an internal axis. There are
three axis. These are longitudinal, transverse and anterior / posterior axis.


Run an imaginary stick in a straight line from the middle of your head to your
feet and you have a longitudinal axis. Rotations around this axis involve all turn
left or right.

Related skills

Log rolls

- Laying on your tummy

- Arms out in front up by your ears
- Legs straight together
- Roll over 360
- Tight body

Egg rolls

- Crouch down on the floor tucking in your body

- Knees to your chest
- Tuck your head under
- Feet together and roll 360
- Arms tucked in by your side

Jump half / full turn

Arms go forwards backwards and up

Arms go into chest
The straighter you are the better easier you will turn
Arms up by your ears


- One foot in front and same arm in front

- Other arm out by side- aeroplane
- Step on front leg
- Turn with foot to knee
- Turn
- Finish with step in front
- Left arm and left foot in front then you have to turn to your left


Change starting and finishing positions

Change body shapes

Try up and down slopes

Do with a partner or small groups


Run an imaginary stick from the left to the right hip and you have the transverse
axis. Rotations around the axis involve all turns forwards and backwards.

Related skills

Forward and backward rolls

Front and back saults

Pull over and forward roll around the bar

Back hip circle


a. Physical Preparation
- Core strength
- Upper body strength
- Hamstring flexibility
b. Skill progressions / lead up drills KTPs

Tuck sit

Rocking and rolling

Forward roll down an incline

Standing forward roll

Roll up a height
Hands close to feet, chin tucked under, bottom up, roll (tight feet, tight knees)
and stand

c. Common errors
Chin not tucked into chest
Drop shoulders
Using hands to stand up
Knees and feet not glued together
d. Extension

- Dive roll
- Front sault

e. Where did you spot for this?

At the side


a. Physical Preparation
Hamstring stretches

b. Skill progressions / lead up drills KTPs

Tuck sit

Rock and rolls (elbows high, hand position)

Backward roll down incline

Backward roll on floor

Hips over head, push with arms , tight knees and feed and land on your feet

c. Common errors

No chin tuck, no arm push, hips over head

d. Extension

Back sault

e. Where did you spot for this?

Side No Pushing


Change starting and finishing positions

Change body shapes

Try up and down slopes

Do with a partner or small groups


Run an imaginary stick in a straight line from your belly button through to your
back and you have the anterior posterior axis. Rotations around this axis
involve all sideways rotations.


a. Physical Preparation
- Upper body strength
- Flexibility of hamstrings and hip flexors

b. Skill progressions / lead up drills KTPs

Cartwheel around a circle

Cartwheel around a semi circle
Cartwheel over a height (bench)
c. Common errors
- Step backwards and land on the floor
- Arching back
- Hand and feet placement mixed up
d. Extension
- Cartwheel snap
- Cartwheel over a Beam
- Cartwheel then Round off
- One handed cartwheel
e. Where did you spot for this?
- Outside of their lead leg so you do not get hit


Change starting and finishing positions

Change body shapes

Try up and down slopes

Do with a partner or small groups



a. Physical Preparation

Upper body strength exercises (pullups/pushups)

b. Skill Progressions

Step, Chin, Kick

c. Key Teaching Points

Step with one foot, Chin over the bar, Kick with opposite foot

d. Common Errors

No chin up
No step and kick

e. Where do you spot for this?

On the side and in front of the bar, supporting lower back and thighs with either
had, support shoulders at the end

a. Physical Preparation
- Upper body strength
- Flexibility of the extensors and flexors of wrist

b. Skill Progressions
- Cast
- Have to do the back hip circle assisted then unassisted

c. Key Teaching Points

- Cast
- Hip drive back to the bar
- Drop your shoulders
- Feet up
- Hold your front support at the end
- Shoulder over the back, straight arms, chest in

d. Common Errors
- Do not have the hip drive ad bring them to the bar
- Throw their head up (must keep chin tucked in)

e. Where do you spot for this?

- At the side and in front of the bar
- First hand would go on lower back to push their hip into the bar
- Second hand will be on their hamstrings to push them up
- Spot shoulders at the end

In the school environment most swing apparatus is usually not available but
basic swings on the bar or in the playground can be developed and are
beneficial for the development of upper body strength and spatial awareness.

Swings can be divided in to two categories:

a. Swing in hang
b. Swing in support


Good landings and grip strength are a prerequisite for swing

Participants must show competence in hang and support activities before
progressing to swing
Ensure matting extends far enough both sides of the bar to allow for the body
moving away from the bar on full extension
Ensure participants are regrasping the bar at the top of the back swing
No hock swings without hand grasp


Pendulum swing

Feet together knees straight together

Going from side to side
If you can one hand at a time

Tuck Swing

Legs are in tuck sit

Jump to the bar with chest in
Knee drag or heel drag for propulsion in height
Re-grip at the back of your swing
Land at the back of your swing
Forwards, backwards, land on mat
Hock swing

Two hands on bar and one knee

Other leg is straight down
Swing backwards and forwards


Straddle swing

Legs are wide

Jump to the bar with chest in
Knee drag or heel drag for propulsion in height
Re-grip at the back of your swing
Land at the back of your swing
Forwards, backwards, land on mat

Basket swing

Two hands on the bar

Bring feet through your hands
Nose to your knees
Hips must be up
Legs can be straight or bent
Upside down
If you are spotting you are holding onto their wrists

Glide swing

Legs are together straight in front

Jump to the bar with chest in
Knee drag or heel drag for propulsion in height
Re-grip at the back of your swing
Land at the back of your swing
Forwards, backwards, land on mat

a. Physical Preparation

Upper body strength, core strength

b. Skill Progressions

Swinging legs

Get hips off the bar for front support

c. Key Teaching Points

Pull up with shoulders, up to the bar, swing legs forward

d. Common Errors

Bent arms, shoulders arent leaving forwards

e. Where do you spot for this?

Close to the centre of mass, one hand on shoulders, one hand supporting legs


The use of hand apparatus closely ties in with the fundamental movement skills
program. Hand apparatus such as hoops, balls, ropes, beanbags, balloons and
scarves are readily available in the school environment and should be utilised to
add variety and interest to the gymnastics program.

Hand apparatus have their own DMPs:

Throwing / releasing
Catching / trapping
Circles / swings
Passing over / under / around

These apparatus DMPs can also be combined with body DMPs to further extend
the skills and add variety e.g. throw a ball and perform a full turn before
catching it.


Suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities

Adds variety and challenge to the program
Helps develop hand eye coordination
Partner and group work provides the opportunity for the development of
cooperation and team spirit
Provides interesting and non threatening skills which can be used in
display work


Ensure adequate air space for throwing activities

Provide ample space between participants
Beware of using balls where landing from a height are involved
Hoop rotations around the neck are not recommended