So, your vault game is pretty tight, and you think you’re ready to work on some flips. One of the first steps to mastering flips is learning the art of blocking. If you haven’t read our blocking guide you should do so before reading this article.
Learning how to flip will take you awhile. There are several steps you have to master before you will start flying through the air. If you have a solid grasp of blocking but keep hitting the ground too early, then you’re starting to rotate too soon and you’re not lifting your core high enough.
As you saw in our previous post, blocking helps to create upward momentum. If you want to keep that momentum you need to delay your flip until you reach the apex of your jump. This is also true for wall spins. The longer you delay, the more height you will get.
This seems scary to amateurs. But if you are having trouble getting height it’s a fear you need to conquer. Ironically, delaying your rotation actually gives you more time.
How Does This Work?Whether you’re performing a cork, pike, or layout, you will be spinning around your centre of gravity. When you begin to rotate in the air your centre of gravity shifts. This kills your upward momentum.
You need your centre of gravity to move along a straight line for as long as possible. If you begin to rotate too early you will change your trajectory from a straight line to a curved one.
Moving upwards in a curved line requires more power to reach the same height. Unless you have calves like these, you probably don’t have enough power to get high enough with bad technique.
The only way to maintain a straight trajectory while you move upwards is to delay your rotation. This allows the core of your body to move in harmony with the natural laws of gravity, instead of working against them.
When you rotate, you are going to be spinning around your core. You need this part of your body to get as high as possible before you begin to spin around it.
If you remember one thing from this article let it be this: delaying rotation equals more height, and more height equals more time.
Here is an example. We used it in our last post about blocking. Notice how he doesn’t start his rotation until he reaches the apex. Also notice how he doesn’t get any more height. He reaches the max, and then rotates.
Here is another example. Notice how high his core is when the video pauses.
Examine these two videos. Try to see when they reach their maximum height.
How Can You Do This?Whether you are using a block, or a block and a kick to jump off the ground, you should not rotate with the same motion.
You must use your block to jump, and start rotating after you are in the air. The most common error amateurs make is using blocking and kicking motions to jump off the ground and begin their rotation.
It may feel natural, but it’s bad technique. You will start your spin too soon and lose height.
"Remember: jump and then rotate."
Do not combine them into one motion. While many of the pros make it look like they are doing everything in one swift move, watch closer and you’ll see there are two distinct stages.
QuestionsHow do I know where my center of gravity is?
Your center of gravity is located in your core (your abs, hips, and lower back). At the center of these areas rests the center of gravity for your entire body. This is the area that needs to be lifted as high in the air as possible. When you rotate, you will be spinning around your core. The lower it is, the lower your overall jump.
How do I know when I have reached the apex of my jump?
This comes down to experience. Practice jumps without focusing on flips. Pay attention to the feeling of rising, and notice when that feeling goes away. There will be a split second when you feel suspended in the air before falling back down. That is the moment when you are at the apex. It’s when the power of your jump is no longer strong enough to resist the force of gravity. Practice this several times and you will begin to feel it when it happens.
Do other athletes use this principle?
Yes. Figure skaters, Olympic divers, and gymnasts all wait for their center of gravity to reach its apex before starting rotations.
Put Knowledge Into PracticeTeaching yourself to delay your jump is one of the scarier skills to learn. It’s not going to feel right at first. You are going to have to learn to trust yourself.
You are going to make several mistakes early on. Practice this technique in an area with a padded landing. A gym, beach, sandpit, or mattress in your backyard.
Trust the advice, it works. It will feel counter-intuitive at first, but learning to delay your rotation will add feet to your jumps.