Athletes, Cheerleading and Tumbling, Learning the Basics, Preparation, Skill Development, Tumbling

Tumbling: “Learning the Basics”

It is very exciting to watch athletes perform and achieve great feats of athleticism that leads to victory and success. Especially for young athletes who have a dream to reach the same status. This is what drives young athletes to pursue a path for future growth – and this path is a long one!! For young, aspiring athletes to achieve success and reach the goals they dream about, they must learn from the beginning. Learning the Basics is one of the most important factors in the pursuit of success.

It is normal for an athlete to want and learn the more exciting and difficult skills early in a career. In sports, such as gymnastics and cheerleading, many students want to learn how to “flip” or perform other similar skills. Although these skills are exciting, there carries a huge risk factor that many, including coaches, do not recognize.

The Purpose of Basics

Learning the basics of tumbling skills is imparative for positive progression and safety. It is certainly a building block process. Like so many other actions in life – for example: learning to crawl before walking; learning to add and subtract before algebra, etc. If these prerequisites are not a part of the training process, failure is almost certain. Students must learn to roll (forward and backward) before learning to flip; they must learn a great cartwheel before learning an aerial, etc.

When we see students struggling with accomplishing particular skills, it may be a lack in having accomplished fundamental basics. Learning to achieve tumbling skills entails strength, flexibility, agility, and mental awareness of body in motion. All of these factors take time to achieve. Learning fundamental elements will give students the tools necessary to accomplish the more advanced and complex skills.

Tumbling skills are complex and it takes repetition and time to achieve the desired result. If the process is rushed and the student is not fully prepared – physically and emotionally, the risk factor highly increases. When injuries occur while performing tumbling skills, much of the cause may be due to the lack of preparation. For example, when a student fails on attempting a back handspring, in many cases, the student is not prepared to attempt the skill. Another common problem is the combo pass of the “round-off, back handspring”. It is common that this pass results in a failed back handspring. In many cases, it is not the back handspring that is the problem. It may be the Hurdle and/or Round-off that is poorly executed. In this event, the student will not be in a position to perform the back handspring successfully.

Results of Basic Element Training

Learning and achieving basic elements in tumbling skills will allow the athlete to progress in a positive and safe manner. In addition, it will help the athlete in obtaining the confidence needed to perform skills as they progress. In addition, this process will highly reduce the chances of a “Mental Block” (the-mental-block-nightmare). Once this occurs in an athlete, it is very difficult and timely to overcome.

Even the most successful athletes will often resort back to basic element training as part of their training regiment. As mentioned before, basic elements are the building blocks for advanced skill training. We see this in almost every sport. The stronger the foundation, the stronger and more productive the outcome.

Don’t skip steps in skill development!! Seek out true professionals who have the knowledge in training skills with the correct technique and progressions. This will greatly increase the potential in advancement and success.

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Scott Johnson
1984 Olympic Champion
1988 Olympic Team Captain

My Beginner Tumbling Training Guide is published and ready for all to use. This is a great training aid for any and all programs who offer tumbling training. If you would like to order your copy, follow this link:

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