The wolf turn: What is it and why is it important in gymnastics?

Japan 2020

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — In many ways, gymnastics skills are like fashion: there are your staples, your basics that you will see forever, they never go out of style. Then, there are the ones that are popular, disappear for a generation or two, then come back.

One of those skills you will see a lot during the 2020 Olympic Games: the wolf turn. Yes, that is the actual name and yes, you’ve seen it a lot. During the United States Olympic Trials, videos started surfacing on social media of people trying the wolf turn in their homes!

The name references the leg position: one in the air straight out floating, the other the base, bent. This is the same position as another element seen on balance beam and floor exercise: a wolf jump.

So, why is it so popular? Every floor exercise routine and beam routine requires a turn skill. This turn skill meets that requirement while tacking on bonus tenths to the difficulty score because it is so challenging. Ohio State gymnast Savannah Gonzalez explained what makes this skill so hard.

“So you start on one bent knee, one out straight, and then arms [in prep position] just so you have your center,” she said, adding that the hardest part is, “probably when you’re spinning, just staying over your leg that’s on the ground.”

Now, to avoid deductions the leg that is in the air has to stay straight and up at a 90-degree angle. It cannot dip down and up.

And clearly the more times you spin, the harder the skill is and the bonus tenths of a point tack on. If it looks easy that means it is done correctly because it most definitely isn’t simple.

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