Gymnastics Training Article: Tsukahara Vault: It’s all about the pre-flight.
By Karen Goeller, CSCS
This article is not for reprint without
written permission from the author.
the Gymnastics Drills and Conditioning Books!
The Tsukahara Vault (Tsuk) and the Handspring are very different skills and the
block is extremely different. With the Tsukahara vault the gymnast must think of
pushing the table down in order to go up. It is a similar concept that dancers
use to jump, push down to go up. This concept is not the same as remaining tight
for the block of a Handspring vault.
Some gymnastics coaches teach this skill by telling the gymnast to push the table down in
the same manner they push the bar down for a kip, push down to go up. Other
gymnastics coaches teach the gymnast to lift her arms up as if she is tumbling on floor,
performing a salto type skill out of a back handspring. Either way the gymnast
must think of standing up in the air and seeing the wall before she rotates for
the tuck, layout, twist, etc.
Before all of this happens, the chest lift and then the flip, the gymnast must
run fast, punch the board, and contact the vault table. As she contacts the
board, the gymnast must squeeze her buttocks tight, circle her arms, and stand
up tall for the pre flight phase of the vault. As she is rebounding off the
board the circle and lift of the arms towards the ceiling help propel the
gymnast upward and forward for a her vault. Next the gymnast must perform a
half twist in the air between the board and the vault table so that all of her
fingers are pointing towards the board, in order to be square on the table. This
will only work if the gymnast is very tall and tight on the board.
One preferred method of teaching this gymnastic skill is the push down method. After the
pre-flight and hand contact with the vault, the gymnast must push the table down
in order to go up. As the gymnast pushes down (off the table) she must attempt
to lift her chest up. If she performs the push correctly, the gymnast will see
the vault runway and the wall. Next comes the easy part of the vault. The easy
part of the Tsuk vault is the tuck, pike, layout, twist, etc. Without a good
understanding and performance of all of the steps before the hands contact the
vault table (pre-flight), the gymnast will have trouble with the post
flight/flip and the landing.
Once the gymnast has performed all of the tasks before the hands contact the
table correctly, it will be much easier for her to perform the lift and flip.
That thought is often difficult for the young gymnast to comprehend. Here is an
important thought regarding hand placement. It is so much easier to push the
table down when the hands are even, all fingers pointing toward the board, than
if one is on the lower part of the surface area. If one hand is closer to the
landing area than the other hand, the gymnast will be pushing from an uneven
surface because The table is at an angle and she really should contact the vault
table as squarely as possible. When a gymnast is square on the table she has a
better chance of using the table efficiently.
There was a deduction at one time for not completing the half turn before the
hands contacted the vault, which was before the table was introduced. This
deduction has been minimized or completely removed. Some coaches do not teach
the early phase of the Tsukahara vault with the half turn, most likely because
they see that since the table has more surface area for hand contact.
So to review the Tsukahara vault, the gymnast must run fast, stand up tall on
the board and be extremely tight upon contact. She must lift her arms forward
and up toward the ceiling, jump up, and complete a half turn. After the half
twist in the air the gymnast’s hands contact the vault table and she must propel
her body upwards by pushing the vault table down. Pushing the table down
efficiently will propel her body up enough for her to stand tall in the air and
then flip. If the first half of the Tsukahara vault is mastered the second half
is most often successful.
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Conditioning Animated E-Books
By 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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