If you watch enough women’s gymnastics, you will notice that many of the athletes start their floor routines in seated positions. These seated positions are not just artistic ways to start the routine. They are positions fundamental to the sport for men and women. Taught in the beginning gymnastics levels, these seated positions develop into more advanced skills that gymnasts use for their entire careers.
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In the pike, you sit with your legs straight and side by side so the inner sides of your legs touch. After learning this position seated on the floor, you can practice it in rolls on the floor and in a seat-drop on the trampoline. Eventually, female gymnasts use the pike position for skills on the uneven bars, including the kip and glide swing. Male gymnasts hold the pike position for several seconds on both the rings and parallel bars.
The straddle is the opposite of the pike in that you open your legs out to the sides while seated. Ideally, you open the legs to 180 degrees to sit in a center split. Beginners start off with smaller straddles, with the legs opened as far as possible but not quite 180 degrees. You will first use the straddle sit in forward and backward rolls, and then you might add it to jumps.
You can learn how to sit in a tuck by first placing your legs in the pike position while sitting up straight. Then bend your knees so they point to the ceiling. You will use the tuck position in everything from handstand forward rolls to a front tuck; also known as a front flip. For female gymnasts, the tuck is essential in the squat on, the most basic skill to transition from the low bar to the high bar.
Splits are common seated positions in gymnastics. When you sit in the split with your left leg forward and your right leg stretched behind you; you are sitting in the left leg front split. Likewise, when you put the right leg forward and the left back, you are sitting in a right leg front split. Some coaches also call these splits the stride splits.