This week, we’ll look at two different categories of vaults.
The colossal majority of competitive vaults fall into one of two categories: hurdle-entry vaults and roundoff-entry vaults (also known as Yurchenkos). I should note that there are two other categories of vaults (hechts for men and front handspring entry for women), but both are very rare in competition, and for good reason. This week, we’ll be looking at the two common vault categories.
The hurdle entry is the simplest in concept. In the USAG JO program, all competitive vaults up through level 7 for girls and level 8 for boys come from this category (or are progressions towards vaults in this category). The gymnast hurdles to the board, contacts the table with the hands, and the feet continue over the top as the gymnast blocks off the table. This category can be subdivided based on preflight turns. The vault can be done with no turn between the board and the table (front handspring variations), a ¼ or ½ turn (Tsukahara and Kazamatsu variations), or even a 1/1 turn. Gymnasts can further add to the difficulty of these vaults by adding twists and/or saltos in postflight. These vaults are generally a good choice for powerhouse gymnasts; they require a lot of power, but give the gymnast a bit of leeway with regards to precision of technique.
Yurchenkos – that is, handsprings from roundoff – are fairly common at the upper-levels (especially for female gymnasts). The gymnast performs a roundoff onto the board, allowing her to approach the table backwards. As with the first category, this can also include up to a 1/1 turn in preflight, although it is most commonly done with no preflight turn at all. These vaults are generally a good choice for more technical gymnasts (especially those who are strong back tumblers on floor); they require more precise technique than hurdle-entry vaults, but a gymnast does not need enormous power to do them well.
As always, I welcome comments, questions, and ESPECIALLY topic requests, as I am once again running out of already-written columns.