The stalder (straddle) press is by far my favorite gymnastics skill ever! The press develops core strength, balance and muscle control in gymnasts. It is not easy but it is one of the best skills a little gymnast can master.
The straddle press is one of the key components of the USA Gymnastics TOPS physical abilities test because it is a very good measure of a childs' gymnastics aptitude as it requires strength, flexibility, balance and muscle control in order to perform.
The video above shows a group of 6 year olds working on their presses. You can see the one little girl really working hard at balancing and controlling her body as she goes from the L position to the handstand and back.
My Level 4 and 5 gymnasts do presses every day as part of practice. Most of them can do 5 or more in a row, but it has taken a lot of work to get them there. Right now the record in the group is 26 presses in a row – can you believe it? The little gymnast is 7 and has amazing strength, flexibility and control!
So how do you learn a press? I recommend teaching your gymnasts to hold the straddle L position on the floor for 10 seconds at a time – working with straight arms and legs the whole time. Next teach them to do a drag up press against a wall using good round shapes and straight arms. Once they can do that, move away from the wall and have them do drag up presses with a light spot. I always spot the younger ones on their straddle presses while they are learning and then do 3-5 presses in a row with a spot as they get stronger.