Help! Which way do I Twist?
While I'm getting ready to head off to Woodward Camp, I'm ready to answer any questions about the biggest topic of all gymnastics, twisting. It’s truly a never ending conversation! So what is it about twisting that is such a debate? It’s all about which is the correct way to twist. For 23 years of coaching and hearing all the questions, conversations and clinics about twisting, I have come up with my own conclusion.
Which way should I twist?
No one really has the right answer for this question since everyone is different when teaching twisting direction to their athletes. The two theories come in mind about the twisting direction.
Theory 1: The twisting direction is all about what side your roundoff is on. Example, if you do a right roundoff then you twist to the right (right goes right) or if you do a left roundoff you twist to the left (left goes left). In this case it makes sense to them because if you were to step out of an arabian, front full, back 1/2 twist, or back 1 1/2 twist you will be stepping out while you are squaring upon the completion of the twist. It also makes sense when you do more multiple flipping and twisting skills on vault , floor, bars and trampoline.
On the visual aspect, you are using your right eye as a guide for both roundoff and twisting. More than interesting is using a car steering wheel. If I was to turn the steering wheel as if I was to do a right round off the car will turn right! However, you notice the right arm is crossed over toward the left! We will get that in my experiment!
Theory 2: As for the some of us, theory one doesn't make any sense! Since you do a right roundoff your right arm is the lead arm (drops forward) and the left shoulder goes back, therefore you should be twisting left. So right roundoff goes left and left roundoff goes right.
On the visual aspect, it is opposite because you are using the right eye as a guide for the roundoff and then using your left eye to guide you for the left twisting. What is interesting about this, is thinking about a baseball player who bats right. The ball player uses his left eye to target the ball. As the right batter swings the bat, the body is twisting left! However, more than interesting I use my left eye to look through a camera or if I was to aim at a target for archery or shooting. I'm right handed, I do my roundoff on the right, and I twist left. So, my left eye seem to be my dominate eye to guide me through my twisting skills.
However, stepping out of a twisting skill is not impossible but difficult since the body has to fully complete the twist to square out before stepping out.
The illusion of twisting:
If you were to stand in the front of a person watching a complete revolution of the full twist you see the front of the body at the start, back of the body (1/2 twist), and again the front of their body (full twist). So if you were to do a right roundoff and you see their back first (depends on what side you are standing on) on the first 1/4 turn of the roundoff, you should be able to see the front of the body next when they go into the first 1/4 twist going into the twisting skill. If you ever observe this, you be surprise what you will find out!
Depends on what direction the athlete is going and where the coach is standing:
1. A gymnast does a right roundoff and I saw the back first. Then the gymnast did a half turn to the right and I saw the back again. You may be thinking the gymnast is changing directions.
2. A gymnast does a right roundoff and I saw the back first. Then the gymnast did a half turn to the left and I saw the front. You may be thinking the gymnast is going in the same direction.
Now if you were to stand either behind or in front of the gymnast while doing a roundoff. It will be a different perspective of how you see things.
Now you are thinking, "That is not right!" So, what is all the fuss about? YOUR BRAIN! Your brain receives different information on how you see things in perspective. Twisting can really create an illusion because we see things from different views of being inverted, upright, sideways, front, and back.
So what is really going on here? Let’s do an experiment that supports all the fuss!
THE WATER BOTTLE EFFECT:
Experiment: You will need one empty plastic water bottle.
Hold the water bottle upright.
1. When you take the cap off, which way does the cap turn? Clockwise (CW- right) or Counter clockwise (CCW- left)?
2. When you put the cap back on, which way does the cap go? CW or CCW?
Hold the water bottle inverted.
1. When you take the cap off, which way does the cap turn? CW or CCW?
2. When you take the cap back on, which way does the cap turn? CW or CCW?
Hold the water bottle inverted.
1. Try turning the cap CCW. Does it come off?
2. Try turning the cap CW. Does it go back on?
Hold the water bottle upright.
1. Try turning the cap CW. Does it come off?
2. Try turning the cap CCW. Does it go back on?
Cap off CCW CW
Cap on CW CCW
THE STEERING WHEEL EFFECT:
Experiment: You will need a steering wheel, gymnastics ring, small hula hoop, or a bowl. Otherwise just imagine you are holding a steering wheel.
1. Hold the "steering wheel" in front of you and turn it CW (right). As if you were driving which way does the car go? Right or Left? Which way is the body pulling? CW or CCW?
2. Now hold the "steering wheel" above your head. Turn the wheel to your right (CW). Which way do you feel the body is pulling? CW or CCW?
3. Now hold the "steering wheel" down. Now turn the wheel to the right. Which way do you feel the body is pulling? CW or CCW?
4. Now hold the “steering wheel” down. Now turn the wheel to the right and you turn to your right. While you are turning the wheel and yourself to the right, raise the wheel above your head. What happened? Your arms get crossed over! To unwind your arm you will need to turn to the left!
Conclusion: So which way do I twist?
In conclusion, that there is no right or wrong way to twist as long as the back and front somersaults are twisting in the same direction. It is common that theory one is being used due to other twisting skills that are done on the apparatus such as doing full twisting giants and blind changes, and ect. on bars. Power tumblers, trampolinist, divers, cheerleaders are not so much of a problem because they don’t do bars. Its important that they do twist in the same direction while somersaulting forward and backwards.
Can a gymnast be successful going to the Collegiate and/or international level using either theory of twisting? I believe, yes! The difference will be the lacking of variety of learning more complex skills. Example, I do a right roundoff and twist to the left. I have trouble doing 1/2 in full out. However, I reversed the process of doing a full in half out! Yes, I did step out into a roundoff out of a front full, back ½ and back 1 ½ . CRAZY!
As a coach, I make sure they don't twist to early that may cause confusion of the twisting direction. Example, doing barani like a no handed roundoff (old school). As now as you see you really don’t want to teach kids twisting to early that may cause a lot of confusing on twisting direction. Flip before you twist! I have used this experiment trying to figure out why we all get confused of which way to really twist. I prove that there is no answer to this issue. I support both theories. If the child can't figure out the twisting direction, I have them do a seat drop 1/2 turn on trampoline. It works most of the time. As a coach, teach the athlete to be successful and make the right choice for what it is best for the athlete and your program. While there are ways to help the athletes know which way to twist, what do you do to help the athlete to determine which way to twist?
Best of Luck!