Over the last few weeks we have been making lots of progress using the T2K Air Barrel. We have the 80cm size Air Barrel which is ideal for our gymnasts aged 8 years old to 16, T2K also have a 60cm Air Barrel for smaller participants. As a recreational gymnastics club, we have found the Air Barrel to be particularly useful for teaching front and back handsprings (think Top Tumbler), and other skills that require gymnasts to keep the shoulder angle open; like forward/backward walkovers and handstand to bridge. But these aren’t the only uses for the Air Barrel, this product is a versatile aid for various levels of training, from beginner to elite gymnastics.
What is the Air Barrel?
Just like blocks, wedges and various other shapes found in the gym, the Air Barrel is another tool in a coach’s armoury of training aids…but will probably be the only shape that is filled with air! The Air Barrel is a PVC, cylinder shaped inflatable that can be inflated within a minute. Once inflated, the Air Barrel can be rolled on by gymnasts for various shaping drills. With the Air Barrel being an air product, it’s soft and forgiving to land/roll on, is very light to move and once deflated takes up minimal storage space.
Our successes with the Air Barrel
- Our gymnasts have learned to keep their shoulder angle open and their bodies stretched for their forward handsprings. For the barrel to roll and land the gymnast upright in the correct position, the gymnast must perform the correct technique. If the gymnast does not use the correct technique (e.g. bending the arms, closing the shoulder angle or not keeping the body stretched), the barrel will not roll the gymnast to an upright position. The gymnasts have done a great job swinging the back leg and pushing hard with the front foot and waiting for their momentum to carry them over with the barrel without changing their body shape.
- Visually, by using the Air Barrel as an obstacle with the cradles holding it in a stationary position, the Air Barrel has helped our gymnasts to understand the take off and flight phase on a dive forward roll when performing the skill from our Jr. Mini Tramp.
- We have been able to use the Air Barrel to help the gymnasts get used to the idea of rotating backwards onto the hands with an open shoulder angle for back handsprings, without having to physically support the gymnast.
- The Air Barrel looks fun and interesting to our participants! When our gymnasts walk in and see the Air Barrel, we have heard ‘what’s that thing!’, ‘can we flip on the round thing again?!’ It’s nice to be able to keep introducing new interesting pieces of equipment, no matter how big or small to keep things exciting!
Using the Air Barrel with other Training Aids
For different drills for participants of different heights, you may need to raise the barrel a little bit higher, or raise the gymnast a little higher. We have found using the Booster Blocks to be really helpful for this, either using two Booster Blocks parallel to each other for the barrel to roll across, or as a platform for the gymnast to stand on for an extra height boost. We have also used the Folding Wedge as an incline for the Air Barrel to roll down. The T2K Cradles Velcro to Flex Roll mats and keep the barrel from rolling if you would like to keep the barrel still when using it as a shape to practice bridges or for some handstand conditioning. There are numerous creative ways to use the Air Barrel, we have even seen some clubs using it with a floor bar as a rebounder for casts.
As we are a club that runs from multiple different venues, we have been able to deflate the Air Barrel and easily transport it to different classes which is another benefit of this particular training aid. During the half term school holidays we filmed a few clips of gymnasts using the Air Barrel. Check it out here: