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Uneven Bars Skills


High Bar height Around 228 cm
Low Bar height Around 148 cm
Distance between bars Around 150 cm

Grips and Giant Swings
There are five types of swings, all of which have their own unique grip (the way that the gymnast holds the bar). A giant swing occurs when the gymnast swings all the way around the bar with straight body. The Five types are:

Backward Giant - Normal Grip: This is the most common swing, where the gymnast travels face-first around the bar. The bar is held with hands facing forward. All elite level gymnasts compete these.

Forward, or Front Giant - Reverse Grip: The gymnast swings around the bar back-first with arms rotated inwards and hands facing upwards.

Inverted Giants- L-Grip (aka Dorsel Grip, Eagle Grip): Swing around the bar back first with arms rotated outwards and hands facing upwards (try holding your arms above your head and rotating them like this it's - not easy!). These are best performed by the Chinese team but also by many others with varying styles including Elena Produnova (RUS), and Viktoria Karpenko (UKR).

German Giants - Swing around the bar with hands and arms rotated behind the back in an inlocation. Elvire Teza (FRA), Anna Mirodskaya, and Lu Li are some of the only women to compete these.

Mixed Grip - One hand in L-grip, the other hand in normal grip. This grip is swung out of Healy turns also.

Other Basics

Back Hip Circle - The gymnast rolls backwards around the bar on her hips.

Cast - This allows the gymnast to get from front support to handstand position. From front support, the gymnast pushes off the bar with her hips and lifts her body to straighten the shoulders and finish in handstand.

Cast Handstand - Tips: Be sure the gymnast leans well over the bar. Most gymnasts have a tendency to cast back and not up. Work a lot of casts. With spots, without spots. Work casts with good form. Be sure to also work cast handstand and lower back to the bar, because the negative motion will strengthen the cast. Swing handstand on P-bars with good technique will help improve cast handstands. (For both male and female gymnasts). Wrap a therapy band or surgical tubing around the base of very sturdy equipment, such as beam, vault, or bar base. Lie on back and grasp the band or surgical tubing. The feet should be closer to the base than the head. Bend knees. Holding the band very tight, while keeping the arms straight and close to body, pull band from the thighs toward the ceiling and then up toward the head. Return the band slowly using the same direction, toward the ceiling then down toward the base/thighs. This should simulate the upper body while performing a cast to handstand.

Free Hip - From a front support, the gymnast moves backwards around the bar with her hips close but not touching it.

Glide - On the low bar, the gymnast swings forwards with her legs straight and roughly parallel to the floor, then swings backwards

Kip - This is the element that the gymnast uses to get from hanging position to front support. She first brings her legs to the bar, then pulls her hips to the bar, and then pulls herself all the way up until she is in front support position. It is usually combined with a cast to get to handstand. Tips: The timing of the kip is everything and most gymnasts tend to kip early. Work glides on a low bar, being sure to keep straight legs, head in, shoulders open. If the gymnast has a good glide then they can work glide and lift their toes to the bar on the rearward phase. Ensure that they do not lift their toes too early. Once they can glide and lift their toes then they can work kips with a spot to develop a feel for the motion. Hanging leg lifts will greatly improve kips as it strengthens both the abs and the critical muscle groups in closing the shoulders. Stem rises: On a bar mounted near a wall, or a set of P-bars set uneven (distance apart will depend on size and strength of gymnast) hang on the higher bar with feet on the low bar (or wall) push off the bar/wall with the feet and pull the bar to the waist with straight arms. Widen the bars to increase difficulty. On a low bar, stretch body over a barrel. Shoulders should be extended and body straight. (glide swing extension). Pull toes to bar and kip.

Stride circle - Tips: The key to a strong stride circle is understanding extending away from the bar on the downward swing. This is a fundamental concept for all swinging skills. From the stride support the gymnast should push upwards to move their center of gravity as far from the bar as possible. This extension continues through the entire downward phase of the swing. In addition to pushing upwards the gymnast should lift their legs as much as possible to further accentuate the swing. A common mistake on the upwards phase of this skill is to pull in to the bar and bend the front leg. This will kill the swing and interrupt the skill. The push is similar to a kip (and will help with learning kips). The arms should be kept straight. Downward pressure should be applied to the bar. This skill is most easily executed with an undergrip.

A Skills

3/4 Giant - Tips: Most gymnasts simple are not aggressive enough when first learning this skill. Working back hip circles and finishing in a solid support, and multiple back hip circles will help develop a sense of the wrist shift necessary for this skill.

Flyaway - Tips: Tap swing release to land on back in a pit, resi-pit, or stacked mats. The gymnast should look at their toes during the flight. Tap swing release spotter catches the gymnast. (For larger gymnasts a spotting belt is the next best thing) Target position should be about 45 degrees above horizontal. Again the gymnast should look at their toes. Same as above drill but after brief pause the spotter turns the gymnast over to complete the flyaway. This pause can be gradually eliminated, then the spot can be gradually eliminated.

Front Flyaway - Tips: The key to this skill is getting a feel for the tap. It is essentially a reverse of a normal tap swing. The front swing position is an open body leading with the heels, as the gymnast passes through the bottom, they must hollow then kick their heels towards the ceiling. Work the tap without releasing the bar until you get a feel for it. The tendency is to tap early. Work the tap late. Once the tap is consistent, dismounting into a pit or with a belt to get the feel for the turnover is next. The gymnast should feel a significant block off the bar prior to release. This will aid in gaining amplitude and good direction for the dismount.

Fronthip Circle - Tips: Initiate the skill from a high support. The bar should be resting on the upper thigh. The gymnast should fall forward with a tight body leaning well forward to initiate momentum. As the gymnast moves to execute the skill they should lean forward aggressively and reach around the bar to get their hands on top of the bar.

Kip cast handstand - Tips: The gymnasts kip should occur late enough so that the gymnast can reach support leaning forward with shrugged shoulders. The most common difficulty with this skill is an early kip which finishes in a vertical support. The cast then goes backwards and not upwards A lot of cast handstands need to be worked so this part of the skill is not a struggle. In working cast handstand sets be sure to work cast to handstand, lower back to the bar, as the negative motion greatly helps develop strength. The gymnast needs to finish the kip with their shoulders forward, and feet down so they can execute the cast. If the gymnast is completely open upon completion of the kip there's no where to go for the cast.

Tap Swing - An A skill. Tips: The gymnast should be hollow in the rear phase of the swing. Head in, hollow chest and pushing away from the bar on the downward swing. As the gymnast passes between the uprights they should open to prepare for the tap. (Most gymnasts open the swing early causing the tap to go forward and not upward). As the gymnast begins the upwards phase of the forward swing they should tap aggressively towards the ceiling. As the upwards swing rises the gymnast should pull the bar back and push away to get their center of gravity as far away from the bar as possible for the downward swing.

B Skills

Front Giant - A B skill. Tips: The first thing a gymnast needs to work a front giant is a cast handstand in undergrip. The tendency is to dump the shoulders forward and basically do a forward roll over the bar. Work cast handstand lower back to the bar with a spot A LOT! From the handstand the gymnast must think about extending as far from the bar as possible on the downward swing. The gymnast should stay fully extended until just before passing under the bar. As the swing begins to rise a pull down on the bar is initiated as the heels are driven upward.

Back Giant - A B skill. Tips: A lot of giants are not made because a gymnasts casts are sloppy. Work tight casts trying to finish the cast hollow with extended shoulders. A handstand is not necessary (though desired) to make good giants, but if the gymnast leads with their chest after the cast the giant will be difficult and executed improperly. Work handstand hollow fall to a mat on a floor bar. Set up a floor bar over an 8" mat. Kick to handstand in an overgrip and fall to the mat. Body position should be hollow and extended. The gymnast should push be pushing away from the bar as much as possible, as this will enhance swing on the high bar. Back extension rolls while watching the toes. The gymnast should work back extension rolls keeping their head in and lead with their toes so they can see their toes throughout. This will help develop a feel for leading with toes to handstand. A very common error is to through the chest over the bar and arch. This is caused by a loose body and an early tap. The tap should occur after passing vertical and the toes should lead to the handstand. Work tap swings and focus on a late tap that goes towards the ceiling not forward. Lie on your back on a mat grasping a floor bar over your head. Have one or two coaches grab your legs and lift you to handstand on the rail. Be sure you keep tight and hollow, and lead with your toes.

Straddle Back - A B skill. Tips: The gymnast should understand how to stretch forward in the front swing to generate a strong rearward swing. For a timing exercise, work swings in which the gymnast straddles in the rearward swing, lifts their hips, and looks down to the low bar. The straddle should occur after the vertical phase of the swing. With a single rail a stack of mats with a wedge on the top can be used to simulate the low bar. On this setup work straddle back to straddle stand. The gymnast should be encouraged to land in a straddle stand and not a seated straddle position. Use either a bar pad, or sting mat draped on the bar and work straddle backs. Focus should be on lifting the hips on the rearward swing.

C Skills

Gienger - A C skill. From regular grip, the gymnast swings backwards, releases the bar and does a turn followed by a backward flip in pike position to catch facing the bar (the difference between a Gienger and a Deltchev is where the twist occurs - much like the difference between a barani and a cuervo on vault). Many gymnasts compete Giengers including Viktoria Karpenko (UKR), Andreea Raducan (ROM), Simona Amanar (ROM), Ludivine Furnon (FRA), Kristen Maloney (USA). Tips: Work layout flyaway 1/2 turn. Once comfortable with this motion over rotate the flyaway 1/2 to your stomach onto a port-a-pit or stacked mats. Be sure to tap towards the ceiling and keep your shoulder angle open. There is a tendency to pike and pull in on the bar. Once the flyaway 1/2 to your stomach is solid, start looking for the bar and adjusting the tap to bring yourself closer to the bar.

Jaeger - A C skill. From reverse or el-grip, the gymnast swings forwards, releases the bar and does a forward salto before catching the bar in regular grip; done piked (legs together), straddled (legs apart) or the most difficult, layed out (straight body). This is also one of the more common release elements being performed most of the Chinese and Spanish gymnasts as well as Allana Slater (AUS), Elena Zamolodchikova and Ekaterina Lobaznyuk. Tips: The gymnast should have a solid front flyaway. Front pike dismounts from a swing or cast. The dismount should not travel far from the bar. In a pit, resi-pit, or over stacked mats, piked front 1 1/4 to the mats. This will help develop a feel for the over rotation needed to do the skill properly. (this also teaches the gymnast what to do when they miss the release move). Once the front pike dismount is high enough and getting close to the bar, it just takes a little later release and a reach for the bar.

Straddle back to Handstand - A C skill. With her back to the low bar, the gymnast swings forward, releasing the bar and traveling horizontally to catch the low bar in handstand. It can be performed from an over-grip, under-grip or mixed-grip. Tips: All drills for a straddle back apply. The gymnast must focus on the hips rising and not the heels. The motion is very similar to a press handstand. A tight hollow on the catch is critical to stabilize the skill.

Tkatchev or Reverse-hecht - A C skill. The gymnast swings backwards and releases the bar close to the top of the swing, then flies backwards over the bar in straddle or pike position to catch the bar on the other side. Also can be performed from a Stalder (Ricna), free-hip (aka Hindorff) or toe-on (like Elise Ray). This is the most popular release element besides the Jaeger and is being performed by many gymnasts. Most gymnasts do it in straddled position, but Elena Produnova does hers in piked position. Tips: The timing of the tap and an aggressive throwing of the bar are keys to this skill. Work back extension, snap to straddle sit or stand. The back extension should never reach above 45 deg. As the gymnast rises they should throw the floor back aggressively and reach forward, the goal being a straddle stand. The same drill can be done on trampoline to give more amplitude. Also work the same drill to stomach drop. If a tramp bar is available then this drill can be worked from a back drop using the bar as one would on a high rail. On the bar the gymnasts tap should be earlier than for a giant. The tap should be directed straight towards the ceiling, and the toes topped just past horizontal. The throw is critical for countering the rotation of the swing. On a low bar work glides to high arched support. This drill requires two spotters. The spotters spot at the ankle and shoulders. The gymnast does glide swings then aggressively pops their chest upward and develops support on the bar. The gymnast should lead with their chest and not hips.

Release Moves

Comaneci - From a cast, the gymnast lets go before handstand and performs a front flip to catch on the way down. Dong Fangxiao (CHN) and Vanessa Atler (USA) have both competed this element recently.

Deltchev - From regular grip, the gymnast swings backwards, releases the bar and does a backward salto in straddle position, followed by a turn to catch facing the bar. Brooke Walker (AUS) is one of the only gymnasts still performing this skill which she does in the pike position.

Def or Hristkieva - A geinger with an extra full twists - the gymnast swings backwards, releases the bar and does a backward flip with 1 turn to catch facing the bar. Isabelle Severino (FRA) and Elena Dolgopolova (RUS), Sneja Hristkieva and Elena Piskun all competed Defs at some point in their careers. It is called a "def" on mens high bar but is officially named after Hristkieva on womens bars.

Hindorff - A free hip to tkatchev - the gymnast starts in handstand, then swings forward with her hips close to the bar. Before she reaches handstand she releases the bar and flies backward over the bar to catch. Yvonne Tousek (CAN) is one of the few who perform this skill.

Kim Salto or Counter Kim or Xiao Ruzhi - From a backward giant, the gymnast swings forward, releases the bar and then changes direction to do a forward salto and catches the bar facing away from it in L-grip. Evgenia Roschina (RUS) competed this skill before her retirement in 1998.

Mo Salto or Gaylord - From a forward or inverted giant, the gymnast swings forward, releases and does a front flip to catch the bar in reverse grip. Mo Huilan and Bi Wenjing (both Chinese) competed this skill at the 1996 Olympics where Bi did it from el-grip.


High to Low

Overshoot (aka bail or undershoot) - From a backward swing, facing the low bar, the gymnast releases the bar at the bottom of the swing and does a layout with turn to catch the low bar (if she catches in handstand it is much more difficult than catching with bent body). This is a common transition element following release elements.

Pak Salto - From a backward swing, facing the low bar, the gymnast releases the bar at the bottom of the swing and does a backward layout to catch the low bar. Watch for the best to combine a Pak Salto with an earlier release such as a Tkachev, Gienger or Jaeger as do Ling Jie (CHN-Jaeger), Elena Produnova (RUS-Tkachev) and Viktoria Karpenko (UKR-Gienger).

Bhardwaj Salto ~ A full-twisting layout somersault from the high bar to the low bar on Uneven Bars. This skill was created and successfully executed by Mohini Bhardwaj (USA).

Low to High

Free hip Hecht - From handstand facing away from the high bar, the gymnast does a free hip, then releases the bar and flies in the opposite direction to catch the high bar. This can also be done from a stalder (stalder shoot) or sole circle instead (toe-on hecht) of a free hip.

Shaposhnikova - From handstand facing the high bar, the gymnast does a free hip, then releases the bar and flies backward to catch the high bar above her head. Performed by Jamie Dantzscher and Elena Produnova.

Khorkina (II) - A straddled Shaposhnikova with a turn to catch the high bar.

Turning Elements

Piroette - basically a turn in handstand. The gymnast releases one hand to place it on the opposite side of her other hand. They can be done out of giant swings (in any grip), stalders, toe-ons, free hips etc.

Blind Change - A move used to get from regular grip to L-grip. From handstand, the gymnast rotates outwards (so she is facing away from the bar) on one arm to do a turn, ending up in L-grip. Most often seen from Chinese gymnasts.

Endo - A Stalder going forward. Yvonne Tousek and Morgan White are two gymnasts to perform this element recently. An endo is any forward stalder no matter what grip it is in.  White did hers in el-grip.

Healy - A full turn on one arm performed at any time in or after handstand while falling forward.  It can be performed from a front giant, back giant, clear hip, stalder, endo, weiler kip, cast, blind change, higgins, giant hop 1/2 to mixed etc.

Higgins Roll - Also used to get from regular grip to L-grip, a Higgins Roll requires the gymnast to let go of the bar with one arm, make a turn, rotate inwards (so her free hand sort of slides along the bar) and place her free hand on the opposite side of where it was, thus ending up in L-grip.

Giant full - Giant with full pirouette through handstand. May be performed from either a front or back giant.

Giant 1 (Kim) - Giant with 1 turns through handstand ending in either mixed grip or reverse grip.

Giant 1 (Dawes) - Giant with 1 turns in handstand from a backward giant to a normal grip.

Other Elements

Stalder - Swing around the bar with piked body and straddled legs. Should be performed from handstand to handstand. Amy Chow and Svetlana Khorkina are famous for these.

Toe-on - Swing around the bar with body piked so much the feet are on the bar. Should be performed from handstand to handstand. Olga Teslenko (UKR), Elise Ray, and Kristen Maloney (USA) do a lot of toe-on work. Many gymnasts use a sole circle transition.

This list is incomplete, please contribute more: Email us -- Thanks!

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