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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Your Daily Dose of Gymnastics: Laurie Hernandez

It's been a while since I saw a routine I really just wanted to watch on repeat.

Compare to Mykayla Skinner, whose fantastic tumbling gets a little overshadowed by less-than-pleasant music and "filler" choreography.

Knowing that Martha Karolyi has final say over the USA women's program, one would think that she would get every team member performing a routine of the same caliber as Hernandez. Who does her choreography? Can we get this person to do every US routine?

There is an outcry in the gymnastics community to bring back artistry. The US sets the tone for the world of gymnastics. Even if the code doesn't require artistry, why not lead the world in this trend because it's the best thing for the sport? Because we can.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dialect quiz--What in the world is a tumble-set?

"What does the way you speak say about where you're from?" You've probably answered this question recently by responding to the dialect quiz that's been floating around Facebook. Saying "y'all may indicate that you're from the South, but if you're from New Orleans, nothing betrays your provenance more than a word or expression from the city's unique vernacular.

If you know what a neutral ground is, if you've ever made groceries, eaten a muffuletta, or used the word lagniappe; if you know a girl named Angelle (ahn-GEL, for everyone outside Louisiana) or regularly respond "yeah you right" or even better, if you just randomly spout that phrase, then you live in New Orleans. If you have no idea that people only like, 50 miles away don't use these words and expressions, then you've never left New Orleans.

What does this have to do with gymnastics?

Having been involved in gymnastics in various ways for nearly 30 years, having lived and worked in several different states, I've heard a lot of terminology. There are some variations, though many are generational differences: for instance, a back handspring is often called a flip flop, a flic flac, or just a flick. I call a skill a back bend, others may say bridge.

On an occasion I was teaching a preschool gymnastics class--in Mississippi--one little girl was trying the class for the first time and had a little separation anxiety. So Mama came out onto the floor to help, and during our obstacle course, encouraged her, "Come on, show me your tumble-set!"

To which I replied, "You must be from New Orleans." She was pretty impressed with my psychic abilities.

So, New Orleanians, of all the absurdly specific and wildly imaginative terminology you have no idea that you're using, you need to know this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TUMBLE-SET. 

Everyone from ANYWHERE ELSE is saying, "What the heck is a tumble-set?" While working in New Orleans along with several other coaches from various parts of the country, we all found out. Some folks may say somersault. In gymnastics we say forward roll. But the most basic acrobatic skill you can possibly do--put your hands on the ground, tuck into a ball and roll over to your back and then stand to your feet--is for some unknown reason, called a tumble-set in New Orleans.

New Orleans parents I've talked to are invariably surprised to find out that "tumble-set" isn't a real gymnastics term. I can only speculate as to why there would be a regional term for such a specific skill in a relatively uncommon sport, but I have a theory: perhaps local P.E. teachers, back in the day, were having children tumble in P.E. class and came up with that word?

It's one thing to have a special phrase for grocery shopping--everybody does that. It's not totally strange that you should call a median a neutral ground, because that's something you see every day. But consider: a) gymnastics is not very popular in New Orleans, and b) "set" would imply a group of skills, so using "tumble-set" to describe a single basic movement is nonsense in the first place. New Orleanians, if you have any insight on the etymology of the tumble-set, I'd be curious to know. Or, if you are NOT from New Orleans and you've heard this term, I'd also be curious to know. Now, everybody get out there and go practice your FORWARD ROLLS.

This is a forward roll, not a tumble-set.