Known in the dance world as a sauté de basque, the cat leap is a connective move used by many gymnasts to fulfil their leap requirements on the floor and beam. In lower levels, a gymnast performs the cat leap in a straightforward position but as she progresses, she may add a twist.
- Skill level:
Practice the correct body position on the floor before attempting it in the air. Judges will be looking for your legs to form a diamond shape at the height of the leap. Holding a dance bar, squat down, turning both knees outwards as far as possible. Support your body weight on turned under toes. Your legs should form a diamond shape.
Take off from one foot and land on the other with a smooth rhythm while passing through the diamond position. You may perform the leap in a stationary position on the floor.
Keep your upper body tall during the leap. Your arms may swing downwards, then bend and move upwards to a parallel position in a straight cat leap. If you’re performing a turn, you may bring both arms overhead in a rounded position for stability and ease of rotation.
Land the cat leap on the beam with your feet turned outwards. This is easier if you maintain the proper “knees out” position during the leap.
Elevate your knees as high as possible during the leap. Judges want to see your knees reach at least hip height. Resist bringing your feet across your centre bodyline. Some gymnasts compensate for a weak leap by drawing their feet inward instead of jumping higher. Work on strengthening your leg muscles to elevate your leap, instead.
Land softly. Part of the reason this leap was nicknamed the cat leap is because, when performed correctly, the gymnast lands with grace and elegance.