Tumbling: Importance of Building a Strong Foundation

In this report, I will explain the importance of building a strong foundation of skills in tumbling which I believe is crucial in positive development, safety, and confidence.

When we watch the Olympics of high level sporting events, we are amazed at how great the athletes are and how they make their skills look so easy and effortless.  We often think how great it would be to perform like that and be as good as those athletes.  At least, this was what I thought when I was young. This was my greatest motivation!!  I would watch those athletes and I would tell myself that I’m going to be like that someday.

SJ Cross Olympic pic

I started my gymnastics career on a tumbling team, which evolved into a gymnastics career.  I soon realized, however, how hard the sport was and how long it took to develop my skills.  I always wanted to push myself, be daring and learn the harder skills.  My coaches knew better and how correct they were!!

scott speaking at school group

As a coach now, I have a pure understanding of the importance of starting off at the beginning and teaching the basics.  As a team coach, I often would have athletes that lacked the proper basics and it was obvious that they were not introduced to the most basic of elements.  Unfortunately, many of these athletes struggled with learning the more difficult and complex skills.

In most competitive gymnastics clubs, the recreational program is designed to teach the basics and prepare the students for the initial team atmosphere.  Many of these clubs will have their least experience coaches instructing these rec classes, which, in many cases, result in improper technique and development at the most crucial stage.  These rec coaches should be trained by the experts so they can achieve the success they strive for in creating a strong base of young upcoming future competitors.  In addition, class structure and curriculum is also crucial in the young athletes development.  I will be discussing this issue in upcoming posts.

group lunge postition

Since the sport of tumbling is far more diverse, it is a sport that needs special attention.  For those industries that are not gymnastics specific, like the cheer, dance, and martial arts industries, the lack of tumbling knowledge is widespread.  Tumbling is getting more of a requirement in these industries and is one of the most difficult elements to learn.  In addition, although the instructors in these industries are professionals in their fields, many are not experienced in the sport of tumbling and have a challenge to  effectively train their athletes in the tumbling skills they require.  For this reason, many of these athletes outsource their training to acquire their tumbling skills.  I have many cheerleaders and dancers attend our tumbling classes for this specific reason.

Shadow of bridgeBoy Handstand shutterstock_296132747

So, how do we build a strong tumbling foundation?  Like anything else new, the athlete must start at the beginning.  Tumbling involves both flipping the body forward and backward. The forward part is naturally easier, however, the backward part is often unnatural for most young athletes and also may be a bit scarier.  We start off with forward rolls and backward rolls.  Repetition is important!!  In our beginning tumbling classes, the athletes will learn a variety of basic skills they must accomplish successfully before moving up to higher levels.  We certainly do not introduce a student to a back handspring before learning the the basics first.

animated handstand

Not only is starting these athletes off at the most basic of skills, it also highly reduces the risks of injury.  Safety is huge in this industry and proper training is the key to reducing these risks and helps develop confidence in the athletes.  This subject will also be discussed in upcoming posts.

Always remember, don’t hesitate to comment if you have any questions or want additional information on this or any subject involving gymnastics or tumbling.

Scott Johnson

E-Mail:  scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com


5 thoughts on “Tumbling: Importance of Building a Strong Foundation”

  1. Expense is the road block for most kids wanting to do gymnastics. I would suggest to club owners donate a coach to a local rec/Y program to teach a hour tumbling/vaulting class. This would be a great way to get kids interested and the beginning of a feeder program for you. Besides it would a great goodwill effort on a gym owners part. I started out as high school gymnast and I would never have gotten into gymnastics without my high school starting a team program.

    1. Good point Roland. I started off in the public school system as well. Back in those days, this is where most all the gymnasts came from.

      Funny you mentioned the YMCA. I started my gymnastics business in a local YMCA. It had it’s challenges, but was a great way to start.

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