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Landing and falling; important skills for youth gymnastics

This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Gymnastics by USA Gymnastics.

Landing Properly

Landing properly should be automatic and a natural position for all gymnasts. Proper landing technique helps reduce the forces of landings. Safe landing technique (figure 7.5) includes the following:

1. Knees slightly bent to absorb the impact of landing

  • No straight legs on the landing
  • No squat position on the landing

2. Straight spine to keep the neck stable and prevent falling forward

  • No arch in the lower back
  • No bending forward at the waist

3. Arms extended to the front, straight and level with the heart in order to keep chest up on the landing


Learning How to Fall

Falls are commonplace in the gymnastics environment, especially as athletes learn new skills. Teach your gymnasts how to fall properly by demonstrating and practicing safety rolls. Safety rolls allow gymnasts to absorb the impact of a fall over a greater area of their bodies.

A safety roll, also known as a recovery roll, should be performed if a gymnast is off balance (figure 7.6, a-c). The gymnast should roll in the direction she is traveling—forward or diagonally (shoulder roll), backward, or sideways—instead of trying to immediately stop her momentum.



Tell your gymnasts to do the following when falling:

1. Make fists with the hands.

2. Pull the arms in toward the body and across the chest.

3. Roll in a tucked position.

Note: Rolls can also be done with the arms overhead (i.e., halo shape).

Learn more about Coaching Youth Gymnastics.