The Great Barani Debate
By Rob Winch
The Barani is one of the most misunderstood skills in sport found in, but not limited to, gymnastics, diving, trampolining, dancing, cheerleading, inline skating, snowboarding and many more.
A Barani can be defined as an aerial skill consisting of a forward somersault with a 180-degree turn (half twist).
It is used as an official move in gymnastics and tumbling. The 180-degree turn is carried out halfway through the forward somersault.
Most coaches understand the potential for obstacles if an athlete has been taught to twist one way forward and the other way backward. Linking skills becomes a nightmare and even breaking down the complexity and understanding becomes extremely difficult.
More often than I care to mention, I have been surprised by how many athletes I have worked with, who twist the opposite way when doing a Barani than they do when making a full twisting or more forward somersault.
The Barani is NOT a round-off without hands nor is it an “aerial”.
It is neither a ½ twist-back somersault or a front somersault with ½ twist out.
It is a forward somersault with a ½ twist and if taught correctly, the athlete will begin twisting the opposite way, to the way they do a cartwheel or round-off on the floor.
The 1st quarter of the twist is really what we are focusing on. It is the preparation / set for forward twisting, regardless of how many twists are being performed.
For the following example, we will say the athlete twists left:
In gymnastics, the athlete would cartwheel/round-off starting with the left foot. As the left-hand touches the floor, the body would open up to the right. It is ¼ right turn to handstand and then ¼ right turn down to stand.
Many coaches and athletes would then take this round-off and basically build it up for the athlete to be able to do it in the air without the use of their hands. This is NOT a Barani and in gymnastics, we may call this an “Aerial” which is performed the same way as the roundoff from 1 leg.
The idea is that a Barani is either (a) the first progression into learning a forward somersault with more than ½ a twist or (b) a way of coming out of multiple somersaults, possibly with multiple twists.
If we break this skill down into two ¼ twists it will be clearer to see.
The first ¼ twist should happen after takeoff and be completed by the time the athlete is inverted. The second ¼ twist happens coming out of the inverted position. (it is this part that confuses a lot of people as to the way they are twisting). It is this first ¼ twist that is taught as a fundamental for progression towards twisting more that 180-degrees. If this ¼ twist is taught at the right timing during the somersault, then the athlete should then be able to pull in their arms and whilst keeping the body as straight as possible, perform multiple twists.
To summarize, I feel it’s important that the athlete learns the barani twisting in the same direction as their front somersault 1/2 twist, and that they then learn their back twists in the same direction as their front 1/2. In other words, lefts always go left and rights always go right.
Question: Which way is this athlete twisting?
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