What The Hell Is Setting That Gymnasts and Acrobats Always Say To Do

*Note* Because of me developing this Article/Tutorial it has helped me address weaknesses within my own set.  Mainly because if I train too much I develop some habits that negatively affect my muscle memory, especially when it comes to jumping or setting.  I know all the things I need to do and what I need to tell other to do to help them, but how often do we point that advice at ourselves? Because I had to really look at my own mechanics on video, in slow motion, frame by frame and it has helped tremendously. Enjoy!!

*Note 2* if you are looking for how to set for Websters check out this other article as I go more in depth in those about Websters specifically.WEBSTER FRONT FLIP IN DETAIL

You need to set more…  ever heard that before?  Just what the F is setting any way?  An annoying word used by experienced practitioners, usually gymnasts or other trained jumping based acrobatic athletes, to explain what you are not doing prior to executing your badassery…But what is it?  Setting is a word I do not like to use myself because it implies that you know what the word means in the first place.  Setting is like a compound word or a complex definition within a single word.  To be basic about it, setting is everything that needs to be done at the beginning of a trick to give you the most positively probable chance of completely the skill successfully.   But everything that needs to be done is actually quite a lot of stuff.  Lets not exclude the fact that many people do not do things 100% correct the first time and usually rush in to learning new movement arts without any prior knowledge of movement or exposure to it as a developing child.

This article discusses setting for jumping tricks, not rebounding, they are similar, but rebounding is a bit different so that is something for another article.

So lets brake down setting:

We want to make everything in our flight to be in our benefit to complete a jumping skill. Lets look at a simple set prior to doing a back flip or back tuck.

What do these pictures all have in common?

Well my hip’s are not extending fully, my knees are not locked, my hips are not stacked over my ankles and my shoulders are leaning back.  This is because I am more worried about the rotationa nd not about the tuck. With all that nonsense going on I can still land pretty well, and if I can land okay with that kind of a crappy set imagine my potential if I unlock my jumping mechanics?

Now look at these three bastards.
Look at the arms, shoulders, head, Chest, Spine, hips, knees and feet.

The first picture is Jujimufu (Jon Call) do you see his hips not extending or knees bending? Hell no.  What about the second picture with Epik (Kyle Mendoza)  are his hips not extended? Are his knees bent?  No!!! Are his hips not stacked over their ankles?  NO!!!!!  And what about #3 Andrea Catozzi, Look at that verticality.  Super extension from toe to shoulder!!! That’s because they don’t have retarded hip and knee extension mechanics like me.

Below is a list of things you want in a good set.

We are looking at what the body needs to do to completely appose gravity to the fullest.

Every joint is open.

The Feet Pointing

The Knees Extended

The Hips Pressed Open

The Spine is Upright and Extended

The Chest is Lifted

The Head Neutral at First

The Shoulders Shrugged Upward

The Arms Lifted

It all boils down to extremes of extensions of limbs, head positions, weight stacking, and focusing on the current phase of the trick “LIFT!!!!”

For a split second everything is extended at the same time.  Keep in mind if you hold a set to long it becomes a stall, stalls are cool but you rotate late so if feels different and has an entirely different look.  here’s a great video showing the difference.  The first set is normal the second is a stall.

XMA MAN Standing back and Stall Back Check this dude out

All tricks involve an extension and a contraction.  You extend by pushing the ground away to create lift using every possible mechanical advantage and  then you contract to make the flip speed up or follow through with a body half to speed up

This is the exact same thing needed for any set whether it is for a Jump, Flip, or a Kick.  If it involves a jump this needs to happen.  This gives you maximum lift.  And lift is good, it allows you to do variations and more advanced movements without having to think about if you are jumping high enough.

Setting is about giving you the advantage.  The best thing about developing setting from jumping tricks vs. rebounding tricks is that it has great carry over into other jumping skills.  My Flash Gainer improved amazingly when I started to develop my set for my Back Flip more and so did my Precision Jump.

You don’t want to be that practitioner that has a low set, it makes everything seem harder then it has to be.  I don’t consider myself a blessed jumper like Moses Zavala, Fernando Arce, Jujimufu, Andre Catozzi or Dylan Baker,  but I can still jump well if I am mindful about it and take time to do it right.

Take a look side by side the difference between each training session as I make changes that developed my set better.

Week 1.     Week 2.Week 4.   
It is hard to notice, and perhaps I’m a bit to picky, but I was getting better hip extension with each session and you can see it.  Each session my hips are more open.  Because I focused on the one thing that needed more extension that would make the most difference I was starting to get higher and higher back flips.  It’s important to understand that when you’re trying to make corrections to skills, you don’t want to do the skill to many times.  Do about 5-7 of them, video them and make observations and corrections with each rep, rest plenty, and enjoy the benefits of keeping the CNS fresh.  My next correction would be to get full extension in my legs.
One more thing to consider is that I hadn’t really done a full hip lock out when I did my dead lifts.  I thought it was bad for you, but after a couple of Q & As with seasoned lifters I realized that to get the benefit of the dead lift for jumping you really need that hip extension at then end to complete the muscle pattern.  Start light and build it right.  Every rep matters so make the best of it.
Ideal open hip position, thank you Scott Herman Fitness
My Dead Lift Missing the Lock Out
It’s a small amount of change, but it is a big difference in the signal you send the body.
Here are two of my best back tucks I have filmed.  The first one is more recent I weigh 185 lbs  the second one is a couple years old and I weighed about 165.  I like the more recent one but they are both decent sets.


Even further into the setting example here is a video of me working hip extensions in the park and other drills to help with setting for a back tuck.

Now the next time you are training either indoor or outdoor and someone tells you to set more, all you need to do is nod and then BEAST MODE that set the next time.


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