How to Get Better at Switch Leaps

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Both the dance stage and competitive world of gymnastics highlight switch split leaps. Considered an intermediate level leap, form and height are necessary. Gymnastics and dance judges look for an aerial split exceeding 180 degrees with straight legs, pointed toes and correct arm positioning. Slight leg bends, flexed feet and arms lower than shoulder level result in score deductions. Gymnasts execute switch split leaps on both the balance beam and floor exercise, while dancers may perform switch leaps at many points during competitions and exhibitions. Improving a switch split leap increases gymnastics scores and creates fluidity in movement for a dancer. Strengthening and conditioning muscles helps to perfect a switch split leap.

Things You'll Need

  • 6-inch mat
  • Sit in hyper-splits to achieve a greater than 180-degree split. Position your leg on a 6-inch mat and slide your back leg into a split position to carry out a hyper-split. Sit in a hyper-split position for one minute. Switch the lead leg positions and sit in a hyper-split for another minute. Increase the length of time in one-minute increments until you can hold the hyper-splits for 10 minutes. Use a thicker mat as you become more comfortable with hyper-splits.

  • Keep your leg straight and toe pointed as you kick to the front with your hips square to your shoulders. Alternate kicking between your right and left leg for a minimum of 20 kicks with each leg. Stay in good form with your shoulders back and arms raised slightly above your shoulders.

  • Remain in proper form and kick to the back. Do not allow your chest to drop. Keep legs straight and toes pointed while kicking to the back. Repeat for a minimum of 20 times for each leg.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees until your legs form a 90-degree angle while raising your arms above shoulder level. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly stand. Repeat a minimum of 20 times.

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms raised above shoulder level. Lunge to the front with your right leg while keeping your left leg and foot in position on the floor. Bring your left leg to the front and lunge forward. Continue to alternate legs for a minimum of 20 times with each leg.

  • Practice switch split leaps daily while attempting to increase the height of your leap and extend the degree of your split.

Tips & Warnings

  • To execute a switch split leap if you are a right-sided leaper, push off with your right leg from a relevé position, kick your left leg to above 45 degrees, and immediately swing your left leg back while raising the right leg to achieve greater than 180-degree split. Keep your arms in correct position.
  • Always stretch your muscles before strength and conditioning training.

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  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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