Gymnasts vs. Athletic Stance
When you look at athletes from many major sports (soccer, baseball, football) you can see a common theme of a similar looking stance that resembles something like this.
You can see this even resembles a hockey players stance, and if you can imagine a sideways turn and a little less squat, a golfers stance.
It is like someone told all of the other athletes in the world that some hip flexion and knee flexion with feet a little wider than the hips and torso slightly forward would be a good way to create or absorb force - yet they left the gymnasts off of the email chain.
Gymnasts landings tend to look something like this...
Upright torso, knees bent forward, little to no hip flexion, feet together. Yes, this may look pretty. Yes, when you are a toddler learning handstands and cartwheels this landing may look ok for you. However, we need to let go of the idea that this is a "functional" landing and is acceptable for anyone doing any kind of true tumbling.
Our glutes are some of the strongest muscles in our bodies, and landing like this pretty much takes them out of the equation, leaving our quads and calves to do all of the work. No wonder gymnasts have knee and ankle pain!
As other athletes know, coming into a hinged posture at the hips allows the body to use those muscles to create force, absorb force, safely change direction, all while decreasing pressure on the joints. Gymnastics just has not gotten this memo.
Unfortunately, it is a change that will take time to make. Gymnasts, coaches and judges from around the country and around the world need to get on board with making the change. But don't worry about that. Start with you. Whether you are a gymnast, coach or judge start allowing and encouraging these types of landings.
Even if a deduction is taken, are the two tenths worth an ACL or achilles tear? Will landing like this and decreasing injuries allow you to train more consistently and make up that 0.2 somewhere else? Will the gymnasts who land like this be able to stay in the sport longer and complete full seasons?
Ask yourself these questions, then work on your athletic stance landings. Your back, knees and ankles with thank you.
Need help with drills to create this landing shape? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help!