HEAD OVER HEELS ABOUT GYMNASTICS
Head Over Heels About Gymnastics Floor Skills is a book aimed at gymnasts wanting to practise and perfect their basic skills. It is written by Gemma Coles, a gymnastics coach and ex-gymnast, and contains detailed instructions and photographs to help with each step. It is well presented and easy and inviting to use. The book itself has an in-built stand making it easy to read and use at the same time – even if you are head over heels!
The book starts with a comprehensive warm up section, to be used at the start of any practise session. Ideas are given for activities which raise the pulse and stretches. These stretches form a key part of a gymnasts training and many are used as a base for other skills as well as stretching the different parts of the body. Examples of more challenging stretches are also given for those who feel ready to give them a try.
Posture and shapes form the first main sections of the book, essential for all aspects of gymnastics. The photographs show what the different shapes should look like and all of the instructions are given in a child-friendly way and are easy to understand: “Imagine there is a piece of string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards.” The shapes include straddle and long sit, dish and arch, tuck and star with important tips and reminders for each one, for example: “Stretch from ankles to fingers in a straight line.” The next section covers jumps, building on and using the shapes from the previous part, with a reminder of how to land and finish correctly.
The next section is dedicated to skills and this includes all those elements that children love to do, such as cartwheels, handstands and bridge. Although these skills may seem daunting to start with they are all broken down incredibly well with the instructions and the pictures showing exactly how the skills need to be developed as well as performed. As well as showing how to practise and refine the skills, there are also instructions on how to build on the skills once they have been perfected: a cartwheel can developed into a one handed cartwheel and a bridge can become a back walkover.
Rolls are next and the same attention to detail is given in explaining and developing the different types of rolls. Forward and backward rolls, among others, are built up step by step and once again have examples of how to extend them. The pictures once again show exactly how the rolls should be executed and also the correct position of the body at each stage to ensure that the move is being done correctly.
As we near the end of the book, a section on different leaps is followed by ideas on how to combine some of the moves that have been covered into simple routines. Examples of two routines are given for practise with, of course, a reminder to present at the beginning and end of each routine and try to make the skills flow smoothly into each other. With the amount of skills covered in the book, there is then no limit to the amount of routines that can then be created and performed.
Throughout all of the exercises it is of course important to remember the safety aspects involved with any kind of gymnastics activity. By following the guidance at the beginning of the book, which states that these exercises should be used alongside proper gymnastics training, with adult supervision and without undue risk, budding gymnasts will be turning ‘head over heels’ in no time.
Review written by Steph