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Gymnastics Basics: The Horizontal Bar

Apr 9, 2008
The horizontal bar in gymnastics is one of the most difficult pieces of apparatus. The requirements of strength, timing, coordination, and daring - typical of gymnastics - seem to be somewhat exemplified on the horizontal bar. As in all life situations, the element of danger is present but, as with all gymnastics, if approached in a progressive manner the element of danger can be reduced to the point where the performer will recognize the potential dangers and respect these conditions, but without fears.

Description of Activities

Stunt (1): Knee Hang (Hock Hang)

Prerequisites: Ability to raise legs to the bar.

Description: From a hanging position overgrip, flex at the waist and pass the legs through between the hands to engage the legs over the bar. Keeping the legs bent at the knee, hang upside down. To recover, bend at the waist to grasp the bar; then disengage the legs and return to the standing position.

Safety Precautions: The spotter can hold the feet until assured that the student is capable of keeping his knees bent. The stunt can be taught initially on the low horizontal bar or on the parallel bars.

Stunt (2): Knee Mount

Prerequisites: The knee hang and an opportunity to sit with one leg over a low bar.

Description: From a hanging position normal grip, pull one leg up and pass it over the bar engaging the back of the knee with the knee bent. By swinging the other leg, generate enough swing to rise above the bar.

The important factor in the rise is throwing the elbows up over the bar and lunging forward with the head and chest as the head reaches its maximum height at the end of the back swing. If the student wishes to remain on top of the bar, the bar should be shifted from behind the knee to up high under the leg.

Safety Precautions: A stand-by spotter should help the participant maintain balance while above the bar by steadying the legs.

Stunt (3): Knee Circle

Prerequisites: Knee mount.

Description: After executing a knee mount to above the bar, reverse the grip, lift the body and hook the foot of the engaged leg behind the free leg; keep both legs as straight as possible, and pushing away from the bar, lean forward to go for the stunt. As the body starts to rise, flex at the waist and pull in over the bar.

Safety Precautions: A stand-by spotter should be present to help the performer when he stops the circles.

Stunt (4): Pull-Over

Sufficient strength to execute about five chins.

Description: Execute a chin; then lift the legs and hips vigorously over the bar. At the same time, allow the arms to straighten and the head to drop back. Stay as close to the bar as possible. After proficiency is developed, the pull-over can sometimes be done without the body touching the bar as it passes over. This requires a quick rotation of the hands to above the bar, thus providing support as the body passes over the bar. The stunt is easiest when started by jumping from the mat.

Safety Precautions: A stand-by spotter should be provided.

Stunt (5): Hip Circles Backward

Prerequisites: Pull-over.

Description: From the support position (regular grip), swing the legs back, then forward vigorously. Upon contact with the bar, the head and shoulders are dropped back; the arms are kept straight. The momentum of the legs should carry the performer under the bar and back up to the support position. This stunt should be taught before the uprise is attempted.

Safety Precautions: A stand-by spotter should be present.

Practice of these stunts will help the gymnast use the horizontal bar.
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