A split is a popular move in gymnastics where the legs are extended in opposite directions so that they are parallel to each other. Like other moves in gymnastics, a split also requires physical strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. Other performance sports such as figure skating, dance, cheerleading and martial arts may also use the split. Variations of the split in gymnastics include front split, side split, oversplit and suspended splits. Most beginners, however, start with a simple front-leg split.
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Gymnastics performances including the split demand extensive use of muscles. Hence, it is important to stretch and loosen stiff muscles before learning new moves. This will prevent injuries and sprains during the practice. Encourage your children to jog for three to five minutes and do 15 to 20 jumping jacks to get their heart rates up. Rock the wrists and knees back and forth to release the joints. Your child should also stretch the rest of the body, including the back, shoulders, hips, neck and ankles. Your child’s coach may guide you further about the right warmup.
Start the split by kneeling down and placing one foot in front of you. Bring the front leg into a 90-degree position with the foot firmly pressing on the mat. Now stretch the other leg backward and push your hips forward as much as possible. Your aim should be to get both knees into a straight line. Place your hands on the front knee and hold the stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds.
Move your body backward and sit on the back foot. With your hips facing the ground, straighten the front leg and bring the whole leg on the mat. Now bend forward as far as possible, using your hands to reach for the front foot. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
The Final Split
Get up slightly from the back foot and push the back leg backward while keeping the front leg completely stretched in the front. Straighten your torso and bring your arms up toward the sides. The toes of your front foot should be pointing up. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat the steps switching legs.
It is best to learn the split under the guidance of a professional coach. All the stretches during the split should be done with both the legs. Most children find it easy with one of their legs but do not wait for your child to master one side before introducing the other.
Make sure that your child is comfortably dressed. Most female gymnasts prefer leotards coupled with tights or leggings, especially in cold weather, while the boys may wear a leotard and pants that are attached to the feet with stirrups. If your child has long hair, tie it back to make a ponytail or braid. Comfort is the key aspect of any gymnastics attire and is especially important while learning the complex moves of split. Loose clothing and hair may also lead to slips and falls since they may interfere with balance and coordination.