Why is posture so important? Having good posture keeps bones and joints correctly aligned, so we are using our muscles correctly. Strong posture is a very important component of gymnastics and indeed, in life.
In developing children, good posture ensures energy is being expended where we want it to go! If a child’s posture is unstable, excess energy is used to maintain balance and gain stability, which can in turn affect their ability to complete fine motor tasks and even to sit and listen in the classroom.
High level elite athletes spend hours each week working on their posture through specific exercises, ballet and postural training – working on their core strength and stability.
Core stability helps keep the body in control and strong on the inside. It is built from the inside of our bodies to the outside and is essential for good balance and coordination. In gymnastics, if we can activate our lower abdominal muscles in our movements, we will be more successful in mastering skills! (Read here how even our smallest gymnasts are working on their core strength and stability).
Posture is important for all gymnastics apparatus. However, it is particularly important for the Balance Beam. Did you know the beam is only 10cm wide? As you can imagine it is very difficult to keep your body in the middle and balanced on such a narrow apparatus (which makes the feats our gymnasts complete on the beam seem even more amazing)!
So how do we work on our posture on beam?
We begin developing our posture through our mini holds on beam.
The 1st step is being able to stand with Penguin Feet (one foot in front of the other, feet turned out).
Step 2 is rising on to the toes, maintaining that balance. We call this a Releve.
Step 3 is a Passe, or put simply – balancing on one foot.
In the 4th step gynnasts begin to develop transfer of weight, by being able to stand on one foot with the other foot pointed out in front. This is called Tendu.
When we are developing these skills on beam, we ask the gymnasts to focus on some key points. Straight legs; hands on hips; squeezed butt and belly button in. By pulling in the belly button, children will activate their lower abdominal muscles and switch on their posture.
As children develop these basic postural positions they will begin to feel more in control of their bodies and movements. We see children become more confident and successful in staying on the beam, with less wibble wobbles! Once they have developed these basics, more challenging skills will follow!