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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Your daily dose of gymnastics-- Beating the Bars

Beats (that's slamming your hips on the bar and pumping your legs for momentum) were a staple of bar routines up until the early 80's. Once bar routines got more difficult, the bars had to be set wider to accommodate high-flying release skills. Here's a little more background on belly beats.

Karin Janz (East Germany) did this really creative routine in 1975: 

Maxi Gnauck (East Germany) was still doing beats in 1985. Here's Maxi, incorporating some more difficult release skills and giant swings (that's circling around the high bar in a handstand position) on bars set close enough to beat. 

In just a few short years beats would be completely out of fashion--with the bars set wider, gymnasts could extend their bodies more fully in a giant swing, generating more speed and height for the difficult release moves. 

By 1988 most routines were similar to Elena Shoushounova's, with the bars set much wider, though still close enough to reach the high bar from a seated position on low. 

Finally, bar sets today are wide enough for a gymnast to swing almost fully extended without even straddling her legs or piking at the hips to get around. Unfortunately, there are fewer ways to transition for high bar to low bar. The only easy way is to stand on the low bar. Every other way to get from low to high involves an extremely difficult release. 

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