Jack Kelly on Lost Moves – 1

The mystery of the disappearing front somersault

Lost symbol (c) Clipart.info to illustrate lost moves

Let me describe a scenario which many coaches will recognise from painful experience.  For those who don’t recognise it I hope this article will go some way towards helping to avoid the problems.

Your pupil has recently learned a tucked barani but is not yet confident enough to use it in a routine.  Meanwhile the trampolinist is practising a set routine which finishes with tuck jump, front somersault (tucked). The routine is going well but there is some loss of height and the tuck jump comes under a bit of pressure. The pupil does well to recover and sets off for the front somersault. Surprise! It’s a barani!


How will the coach and pupil react to this unexpected event?  There may be some initial amusement or even a sense of achievement, but the underlying effect is likely to be an erosion of confidence.  The fact that the barani appeared by accident is a source of worry that the trampolinist is not in control of their actions.

The natural course of action is to repeat the end of the routine making sure that a tucked front is performed instead of the unintended barani.  There is a high probability that the barani will again occur, if not immediately then some time in the future.


When this situation persists we have a lost front somersault and the progressively disintegrating confidence of the trampolinist.  It is not unusual that this loss of confidence spills over into other moves, notably the back somersault where the performer becomes afraid to take off believing that they have no control over what may happen once they become airborne. 

This situation is often the earliest indication that the pupil is experiencing the phenomenon known as “lost move syndrome” or LMS. 

In my view we could describe it as LCS or “lost confidence syndrome” and there are many other examples in sport. They range from the striker who can no longer score goals, to the world class golfer who gets “the yips” on the putting green.  Neither of those examples carries with it the perception that the victim will be risking life and limb if a mistake is made. 

Perception of risk

There is an increased perception of risk in any sport where the performer must launch themselves into the air! I do not intend to discuss LMS, its causes or even whether or not it actually exists.  I’d rather look at the commonly experienced scenario of the lost front somersault, trace some of the causes and offer some solutions.

Blind finish

The first point to make is that a front somersault has a “blind finish”.  When the pupil learns a barani we stress that the take off should be exactly as for the front somersault.  Initial attempts at the twist will almost certainly be on the late side with the result that the landing will still be “blind”. As the pupil becomes more confident and the twisting action is initiated earlier, they have that wonderful experience of actually seeing the bed before landing. 

The pupil and inexperienced coach are now entering dangerous territory.

The performer will be developing (perhaps subconsciously) a sneaking preference for the sighted landing provided by the barani.  This can lead to the scenario described at the start of this article.  The trampolinist is under pressure when attempting the front somersault and in their anxiety they accidentally start to look for the bed — hey presto — barani!

Another risk factor

Another crucial risk factor is if the barani is being learned with a pseudo tuck. The body is in a tucked shape at the hips and knees but the hands fail to grasp the knees.  It is a fact that if a trampolinist wishes to initiate twist from a tucked position, they must first let go of the tuck to slide out into an efficient twisting shape.  If the knees are not held there is potential to create twist and so the sloppy tuck in a beginner’s barani provides the ideal setting for uncontrolled and accidental twist. 

The solution is to head off this risk by spending enough time on the technique for the basic tucked somersault to guarantee the formal tucked position and to insist on its performance during the teaching of the barani.

And another

The third area of risk can again be headed off by patient and intelligent teaching of the barani. Let us assume that the pupil is performing a high controlled tucked front with a confident straight exit following a positive grasp of the knees.  On moving to the first attempts to introduce twist, make a point of alternating each attempt with twist with a beautifully executed tucked front with no twist. 

As the pupil begins to relish the somersault with twist, the coach can expect the standard of the alternate tucked somersaults to deteriorate.  This is natural as the pupil begins to accommodate the requirements of the embryonic barani. 

At this point the coach must be strong and insist on correct execution of the tucked front.  On many occasions I have reached this stage with a pupil and stopped working the barani because of a deteriorating standard of front somersault.

The following sequence is recommended.

  1. Front S/S – no twist
  2. Front S/S – add twist
  3. Front S/S – no twist
  4. Front S/S – add twist
  5. Front S/S – no twist
  6. Get Off!

Note the limited number of repeats recommended and that each visit to the trampoline starts and finishes with the “core” skill of an excellent tucked front somersault.  This can gradually be developed over many visits to the trampoline into the following.

  1. Front S/S – no twist
  2. Front S/S – add twist
  3. Front S/S – add twist
  4. Front S/S – add twist
  5. Front S/S – no twist
  6. Get Off!

I have deliberately avoided using the word “barani” in these sequences because they are designed to illustrate the pattern of work rather than specify the actual stage of learning.  Clearly the twist practices could be as simple as tucked front followed by half twist jump or actual attempts at the tucked barani itself.

I hope the foregoing which is born out of long experience will help you avoid one of the most common pitfalls which await you as a developing trampoline coach.  In a future article I will address the challenging task of finding the lost front somersault.

Next article.

© Jack Kelly