Pak Salto Drills for Uneven Bars

Pak Salto Live Picture

Learn to teach the pak salto on bars the same way we repeatedly teach this release move year after year.

High to Low Bar Releases

The 3 primary high to low release skills are categorized below. 

  • Pak Salto
  • Bail or overshoot to handstand 
  • Flyback or straddle back to handstand 

*Coaches Note – we introduce these release moves to our athletes when they move into level 7. This has the intent of the athletes competing one year in level 7 and another year in level 8. Allowing the girls to be well prepared for competition with these high to low release skills when they move into USAG DP level 9! 

*Coaches Note – we introduce all 3 skills to every athlete and let them pick their favorite 2. We ask our athletes to stick with those 2 high-to-low releases over the next 2 years. The athletes will have their favorite and that is the release they will end up moving to the competition bar while continuing to train the 2nd choice release on soft surfaces.  

We don’t care which 2 of these 3 skills the athletes choose as they all lead to a D skill or higher. The pak salto itself is a D skill. The bail to handstand is a D skill and leads to the Bhardwaj (pak full) which is an E skill. The flyback to handstand from a handstand is a D skill in the DP code and this skill leads to the Ezhova (flyback ½). 

The Pak Salto

The pak or pak salto is one of three primary high to low bar releases. The pak is a “D” value skill in both the USA Gymnastics DP Code and the FIG code making it a great skill choice for many athletes. 

Reminder to coaches: This skill takes time to develop properly which will help minimize fears through the learning process. If corners are cut and this skill is rushed many times the athlete will not be able to perform their pak salto to their fullest potential, so, plan and take your time. 

Pak Salto Drills

We start our pak salto on bars with a soft mat stack close to the bar doing the same drills going back and forth from a flat mat stack and an inclined mat stack. The athletes will have to tuck their knees in the swings in the beginning stages and we will move past tucked swings as soon as possible. 

  • Tap swing to flatback. We must see the “throw of the bar” creating rise in the shoulders and the athlete’s feet reaching outward (out and over the low bar) When they are on the incline mat, they will need to reach for the floor with full body tension in preparation of catching the low bar.
  • Slow Rotation Drills
    • Back handspring short of handstand leaving the feet back to flatback on a soft mat or resi pit.
    • Jump forward on trampoline to a gainer back handspring with the coach catching your athlete in a back handspring position. This is much easier and just as effective having your athlete jump from a spring floor into a resi pit with the coach catching. 
Pak Salto Drills

Pak Salto Catching Drills

The athlete MUST catch the bar with their thumbs over the bar!

  • Block hop to catch floor bar with controlled planche down
  • Jump from high mat with athlete’s arms overhead to kick feet above hips to catch the low bar and kip
  • Pak “force” catch/block sliding drills
Pak Salto Catching Drills

Primary Pak Salto Drills

  • Tap swing to land almost in handstand on a flat mat stack and handstand forward roll out and/or flatback onto the mat stack. Gradually raise the mat stack until the athlete is ready to go to bar with mat stack and coach’s assistance.
  • Spot your athletes through their first couple of paks to angled resi pit then you can go back and forth with angled mats and flat mat stacks and with or without spot.
  • Pak to the bar with a mat stack and 8” mat over the bar. We always start our paks on the competition bars to handstand and fall over to flatback with a coach’s spot. The we will spot our athletes to a handstand and regular pak catch position.
  • Continue to change the same drills by using less padding working to no padding on the low bar. Changing from spotting to no spotting on the drills.
Pak Salto Drills

*Coaches Note – We teach all the high-to-low release moves from a tap swing. Throughout the learning process of the pak we are teaching the girls to cast handstand and shape down to perform 2-3 swings into all the same drills.

Final Thoughts on the Pak Salto

  • The head MUST remain neutral throughout the pak especially on the release of the bar.  If the athletes head is too far inward, then “equal and opposite reaction” requires it to come out with force. If the head comes out the shoulder angle will break and create rotation. 
  • The Arch of the bridge comes from head position, shoulders open, creating hip lift, stopping the toes (really pushing the feet outward over low bar)
  • Throw the bar to lift and travel to the low bar
  • Reach backwards with straight arms to “block” the bar on the catch
  • The eyes are peaking at the hands (fingertips) to see the bar

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