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Some thought on Hand Spotting‏

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In our Gymnastics centers or club program we try to minimize spotting as much as we can. Ultimately, we want to develop the gymnast’s independence and their total command of the skills when they perform.

 

 

 

However, we also realize that there are many occasions that spotting is necessary in the daily practice for safety reasons, as well as for skill development.

 

The first and most important reason for spotting is safety. We must keep our gymnasts safe when they are out of control or not able to complete a skill. Sometimes, the margin of error is so small in some skills that the spotter must be ready to spot under the gymnast even if it looks good.

 

The second reason for spotting is as a teaching or coaching aid. Hand spotting can be used in many different ways. Here are a few:
1. Creating the necessary body shape and positions
2. Assisting to complete a skill safely
3. Teaching the gymnast a rhythm or timing of the body movement
4. Adding more power (body rotation, swing speed, air time, and etc.)
5. Psychological support

There are many good reasons that we should use spotting, but when you hand spot the gymnast you also need to know when to step away from him/her.

If you are giving a hand spot to assist in making a skill you must know how much spot h/she needs. The assistance from you should be for the safety of the gymnast. Also, you need to adjust the amount of spotting you give the gymnast to prepare him/her in order for him/her to soon be doing the skill by him/herself safely.

Some coaches use hand spotting a lot, but some don’t use it much. I trust that it is an individual preference, but we need to be aware of the benefits as well as the drawbacks.

Many of the elite coaches tend to use more hand spotting because most of the elite gymnasts are doing many difficult skills in their routines and the precision of every skill is so critical.

Executing many high risk skills in a routine is very delicate and no matter how good the gymnasts are mistakes happen. Quite often mistakes happen when fatigue sets in and concentration is more difficult. An experienced coach will anticipate when a spot is needed and be ready to spot the gymnast at the precise moment.

We must also make sure to teach the gymnasts how to fall safely from the apparatus. If the gymnast is in the wrong body position when h/she falls it can increase the possibility of injury. The proper body positions need to be taught as you teach each skill.

The biggest draw back on hand spotting is developing the gymnast’s dependency on you being there. Sometimes it takes a long time to step away from the gymnast. Even though you do not physically assist him/her in any way to complete the skill h/she may feel h/she needs you there. H/She could develop such a psychological fear that being spotted is the only condition under which h/she goes for the skill.

When you have this type of gymnast in your group h/she could slow the whole group’s progress down. H/She can take up so much of your time that it can become a frustrating experience for you and the entire group.

This is one of the reasons that you try to develop the gymnast’s independence as soon as you can.

Have fun coaching.

During the course of teaching, hand spotting is essential on many occasions for different reasons.

 

Abdulrazaq Abdul Qadder

Malaysian coach

 


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