Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Great rolling exercise

When we begin training beginners to roll, we put them kneeling and have them roll forward into a proper landing position. Then we reverse that and have them roll backward from either a landing position or a seated position into a kneeling position. It usually doesn’t take too long to get to feeling fairly proficient with these two exercises, and here’s why: momentum covers mistakes.
Take a bicycle wheel as an example. Stand it up on its edge and it falls over. Stand it up and start it rolling and it takes much longer to fall over. Because of conservation of angular momentum, a rotating object resists a change in its axis. So the wheel does not fall over and it is fairly easy to roll forward and backward with momentum.
But what if as you gain proficiency you begin to slow down your kneeling rolls. Your momentum is reduced and the roll again becomes a challenge. As you slow down the rolls the muscles in your abdomen and torso have to adapt and become more coordinated at balancing you on the line of the roll.
As you become more proficient these slower rolls become easier so you reduce the momentum further and it’s challenging again. You can actually continue profiting from these two initial exercises indefinitely so long as you keep balancing your feeling of success with reductions in momentum. The natural endpoint of this process is the forward roll into shoulder stand or the backward roll into shoulderstand.
So, if you think you’re pretty good at the forward roll, try slowing it down until you feel uncomfortable again. Try to prove to yourself that there is such a thing as ‘not enough momentum’ to do the roll (there isn’t).

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