Gymnastics Training Article:
Glide Kip on Uneven Bars
By Karen Goeller, CSCS
Published in USA Gymnastics
Magazine November\December 2004, the
Magazine of USAG for Pro Members.
This article is not for reprint without
written permission from the author.
the Gymnastics Drills and Conditioning Books!
Check out the Glide
Kip conditioning programs!
It seems that in recent years many of the younger
gymnasts are actually performing a swing to a kip, which is a long hang kip,
rather than a glide kip. It is seen at most lower level meets, a coach setting
up a spring board so their gymnast can get the best swing possible for their
kip. Many of these gymnasts may not be performing the skill as required in their
The difference is that with the glide kip the
gymnast must hold their legs up in front of them, whether together or straddled,
throughout the hang or glide phase of the skill. With the long hang kip, the
gymnast keeps her legs down and hips open until the leg-lift portion of the kip.
One is a swing and the other is a glide.
Years ago gymnastics coaches would explain a glide on uneven
differently than it has been explained in recent days. Back then, we asked the
gymnast to “jump up and immediately pike” before they caught the bar with their
hands. Many coaches even spotted the jump portion in order to teach their
gymnast to lift their hips high enough to get the best momentum at the onset of
the glide. We asked our gymnasts to hold the "L" or pike until they completely
extended their hips at the end of the glide. Coaches really spent a great deal
of time teaching the glide portion of the glide kip. Yes, we can all agree the
low bar was actually low back then and there was not enough room for the gymnast
to swing rather than glide.
Here are a few thoughts to help your gymnast with
The muscles involved in lifting the leg in front of
the body for the glide portion of the glide kip is the hip flexor. The hip
flexors are very small when you look at them on an anatomy chart, but they have
a big job. This one little muscle must lift the gymnast’s very long limb. As the
gymnast’s leg grows, gets longer and heavier, there is more stress put on that
little muscle, the hip flexor.
The coach must condition their gymnasts hip flexor
muscles constantly because many children are growing rapidly. If the hip flexors
are not conditioned properly or consistently other areas of the body must then
attempt to perform the task of lifting and holding the leg up, which can lead to
With that thought in mind, let us go back to the
glide for a glide kip because it is one of the few skills where a gymnast must
hold her legs up for a considerable amount of time. Besides asking your gymnast
to perform one glide at a time, as in the glide kip you may want to add a few
simple drills involving the glide, such as multiple glides consecutively or
To teach the Glide and Toes to Bar Drill, instruct
your gymnast to stand slightly further than arms distance from the low bar. Once
in place, instruct your gymnast to jump, immediately lift their toes forward and
tuck their buttocks under while in the air. They must immediately grasp the bar,
holding a hollow and slightly piked position. Once their hands are on the bar,
your gymnast must glide forward, keeping their feet off the mat and reaching an
extended position. It may be easier for the gymnast if you remind them they must
see their feet throughout the glide. Once they are extended, instruct your
gymnast to bring their feet\ankles to the bar and hold them there, even when
their body swings\falls (due to gravity) to the hanging position. Holding their
feet up is not easy; your gymnast may need help with this drill. Once mastered,
you may want to ask your gymnast to perform multiple glides before the leg lift
portion of the glide kip.
Another very useful glide drill is the Octagon
Glide, Extend, and Lift Drill. It involves the use an octagon to teach our
gymnasts how to glide with their legs in front of their body rather than below
their body. This drill should also help teach the gymnast to extend their hips
completely at the end of the glide and perform the leg lift from that extended
Here is how you would use an octagon for the glide,
extend, and leg lift drill. Have your gymnast grasp the bar securely. Place an
octagon approximately one foot from the bar, so that your gymnast can see it.
Once your gymnast is holding the bar securely, ask them to place their
heels\feet on an octagon. Next, instruct your gymnast to hold a hollow and\or
slightly piked position keeping their buttocks under. Once your gymnast is in
the beginning position of the drill, a relaxed hang with their heels on the
octagon, have them glide forward, literally rolling the octagon forward with
their calves and then return to the starting position. Once they have mastered
rolling the octagon with the back of their legs, ask your gymnast to perform
three glides consecutively. Your gymnast must reach an extended position during
each complete glide. When your gymnast is completely extended for the third
time, instruct them to quickly bring their toes\ankles to bar and hold them on
the bar even when their body swings\falls (due to gravity) to the hanging
position (as if they just did a leg-lift) The octagon often rolls away when the
leg lift occurs. (Be sure to remind your gymnast to hold on tight and be ready
to spot if necessary.)
And one more note regarding the glide portion of the
kip. If you ask your gymnast to think of throwing the bar back as soon as their
shoulders and hips are directly underneath the bar, they may be able to glide
more efficiently for their kip. The action of throwing the bar back should
increase their momentum and extension of the glide, therefore, making the kip
The few drills explained here should help your
gymnast learn to completely extend their hips and shoulders prior to the
leg-lift portion of the glide kip. Once they have mastered the leg-lift from the
completely extended position, your gymnast may perhaps be on their way to
performing beautiful and efficient Glide Kips!
Remember, it is imperative that your gymnast perform
these drills with the correct form and technique in order to learn the skills
correctly, condition their muscles correctly, and prevent habits of form breaks
or incorrect technique.
These drills along with many other drills and conditioning
exercises can be found in the book,
"Gymnastics Drills and
You may also be interested...
Karen M. Goeller
Karen Goeller has
been training athletes since 1978. She has an
education that includes training in emergency medicine, physical therapy, and
nutrition. She has held certifications that include NSCA-CSCS, Fitness Trainer,
EMT-D, Nutritional Analysis, and many Gymnastics Certifications among others.
Besides being author of the Gymnastics
Drills and Conditioning books, Karen is the author of the
Swing Set Fitness books. She has also published
journals, training programs, and
articles. Her books are used by fitness
experts, coaches, teachers, and athletes worldwide. Karen has worked for world
famous gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, owned a gymnastics club for ten years, and
has been featured in several newspapers and on television many times. She offers
sports performance training and private
gymnastics training in NJ. For
more on Karen visit
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