Friday, July 13, 2012

Chasing Superman - Part 3: Leyva on Rings

Oh, ESPN, you make my job easy. Thanks to you, I didn't have to spend the afternoon photoshopping Danell's head onto the body of a random, drunken frat boy, whose spring break pictures wound up on the internet. I simply had to click through the Body issue and voilà, I had myself a logo for the final edition of Chasing Superman.

As the logo suggests, we are going to talk about rings. Full disclosure: It was never an event I enjoyed training, nor is it an event I enjoy coaching. But I assure you that my disdain for the apparatus will not hinder my ability to be a judgmental curmudgeon. If anything, it will help.

Before we take a look at Danell's routines, though, we must understand some of the "technical" language related to the apparatus. On rings, there are two types of gymnasts. There are the swingers and the juicehead gorillas. Some refer to the latter as, "Muscle daddies," but I prefer Snooki's more... poetic, endearing term.

To help you with the distinction, I turn to the Code of Points.

Swingers get their difficulty points by swinging. Duh.
Juicehead Gorillas get their difficulty points through beef. Duh.

From time to time, the two groups overlap. Occasionally, a juicehead gorilla will do a Jonasson, for instance, but a swinger will never do a Rodrigues.

I should also point out that you will never see a swinger in the event finals on rings. Don't believe me? Watch the competition on August 6. For every swinger who makes finals, I'll write a haiku dedicated to Tim Daggett.

Dear juicehead gorilla rings specialists, please don't fuck up 'cause last time I checked, Tim Daggett wasn't one of the nine muses. xx, Uncle Tim

Anyone who has seen Danell on rings knows that he's a swinger, and at this point in time, it's too late to turn Danell into a juicehead gorilla. It's for the best, though, because "Jersey-Shore-muscle-daddy" is not a good look on him. See for yourself:

So, we'll just have to deal with what we got, and thankfully, we have quite a lot to work with. With Danell, it's merely a question of fine-tuning his swing.

If you watch gymnastics on American television, you might not believe me when I say that Danell has room for improvement. About a month ago, a certain commentator remarked, "Now Danell does not challenge the very top athletes on still rings because he is not as physically strong--upper-body-wise--but what he does well is swing."

For Christmas, I'd like to see Tim featured in the ESPN Body issue. Woof.

The validity of Tim's statement is contingent on how one defines "well," and as you can imagine, Tim and Uncle Tim have different definitions. Personally, I'd say that Danell "swings fairly well, but he does not swing accurately."

Why does Elfi looks like she could be Doni Thompson's sister in this shot?

Gee, Elfi, I thought you'd never ask. Let me explain by taking a look at Danell's swing sequence from the second day of the Olympic Trials.



Since this skill doesn't have a name, I believe that we should call it the Laid-Out Tucker in honor of Austin Tucker, the legendary gymnast from Make It Or Break It. Even though he was struggling with his iron cross at the end of the series, I'm sure that a Laid-Out Tucker was easy-peasy for him.

As you can see in the first shot of the Jonasson, Danell starts rotating his right shoulder too quickly, which causes him to swing at an angle, and once you start swinging in the wrong direction, it's hard to stop.

I would DIE if Efli said, "That's what she said," on the air. Perhaps a birthday present, NBC?

Geez, Elfi, a little decorum. Anyway, when Danell begins his Yamawaki, he has already begun to swing sideways while he continues to rotate his right shoulder too quickly, which, in turn, exacerbates the problem. As you can see in the stills of the Laid-Out Tucker, he never recovers from his sidewinding swing. On top of that, he pikes during the last part of the skill.

The end result? His rings go wild during his planche.

Dear Danell, in case you haven't heard, it's called the still rings. A swinging planche? Not cute. xx, Uncle Tim

To make matters worse, his split is crooked in his planche, and his legs are not as high as they should be. GAH!

Only Danell can make Uncle Tim cry like Dawson.

That's a butt load of minor deductions. (Elfi, don't even go there.) There's a deduction for his crooked swing. There's a deduction for piking his Laid-Out Tucker. There's a deduction for swinging in his planche. There's another deduction for his leg-position in his planche.

I wish that I could say that his performance at Trials was a fluke, but it wasn't. He did the same thing at Visa Nationals. Lately, whenever he performs his swing sequence, his rings end up swinging all over the place. Elfi, that's what I meant when I said that Danell "swings fairly well, but he does not swing accurately."

Umm, right, Al. I wouldn't have thought of that analogy, but sure.

Anyway, Danell's problem is fixable. If he wants to catch Superman, he needs to work on his shoulder rotation. This means that he needs to go back to the basics by drilling inlocates--a single layout between the rings--until his body remembers how to rotate evenly. Then, he can return to training his Jonasson, Yamawaki, and the Laid-Out Tucker. The good news is that, by fixing his swing, his planche should become easier to hold, as well.

A Rare Moment of Sincerity with Uncle Tim

With this post, I conclude the series titled "Chasing Superman." I hope that you've enjoyed it. Next week, I will tackle a new problem, so rest up over the weekend and prepare yourself for more bad photoshopping!

In the meantime, I would like to say this: While I enjoy giving Tim, Elfi, and Al a hard time, I would like to thank NBC for covering men's gymnastics. When I was growing up, men's competitions were rarely on TV, and when they were, they usually lasted all of 10 minutes because the stations aired a brief highlight reel during the women's competition. Needless to say, I'm glad to see that the men are getting their own airtime. So, thank you.

Dear NBC, I wouldn't mind more coverage, though. Please? I'll write as many haiku as you'd like. xx, Uncle Tim

Also, I want to thank Spanny Tampson for plugging my blog. Thanks to her, people are actually reading the crap that I post.


  1. Dear Uncle Tim,
    I am thankful for this blog. I love men's gymnastics slightly less than I love women's gymnastics. I am a coach myself and don't know much about the techincal aspect of men's gymnastics. I am soaking up all the knowledge and the snarc that you can provide. Also, I should give a hat tip to Spanny for sending me here. And, HA, gymnasts gone wild!

    1. Yes! I concur, I am thankful for this blog as well. So great to see men's gymnastics getting (some of) it's due. AND it's hilarious and smart, to boot.

  2. The "laid out tucker" made me laugh out loud at my desk. I'm going to miss the ridiculousness of MIOBI....and Spanny's recaps haha.

    I'm just starting to learn more about Men's gymnastics so this blog is a great way to ease into it :)

  3. Your blog was great until I saw this MIOBI reference. Now your blog is AMAZING.