Coaching, Preparation, Skill Development, Training, Tumbling

The Truth About Skill Development: Learning Tumbling Skills May Take a Long Time

Many coaches have been in situations where they will see students and parents become frustrated at how long the process is to learn tumbling skills. It can be even more dramatic when the process involves fixing bad habits. We all live in a fast paced world and many times expect all things to move and progress quickly.

In the complex sport of tumbling, this is rarely the case. In fact, it is common for skill development to take months (and for some skills, years) for students to acquire skills. The same goes for fixing bad habits . Many people who are not familiar with this sport need to be educated on how skill development works and the path it takes for achievement.

In the cheer and dance industries, there are just a few specific skills that students would like to acquire for growth potential. ( tumbling-and-the-cheerleader). These may include skills such as the back and front walk-overs, front and back handsprings, aerials, and back flips.

We often have students interested in our programs specifically to learn these skills. In many cases, the request is made to learn the skills quickly. An expample would be to prepare for a try-out event. Unfortunately, the reality is that it takes consistency and time to learn the skills requested. There are no quick learning situations (at least for the majority of athletes).

I hear from many parents that they are frustrated that their child is not progressing as fast as they believe they should. So why does it take so long? There are many factors that are considered when learning tumbling skills. Not only are there physical attributes needed in development, there is also the emotional effect – which can be the biggest hurdles to accomplish. Students who have not developed a strong foundation of basic skills will struggle with learning the more advanced skills (tumbling-importance-of-building-a-strong-foundation). In this case, skill development may take much longer.

I strongly suggest to all parents that they should consider placing their child in a tumbling program consistently so they will get the training needed to learn their skills properly and safely. We often see cheerleaders and dancers who are challenged with schedules so they cannot participate in a program consistently. The result? They usually do not learn the skills they are wanting to learn or it takes an extremely long time.

Another factor which may cause skill development to take a long time to achieve may be the poor quality and/or inexperience of the coach teaching the skills. When students are wanting to learn specific skills, parents should research and seek out experienced and qualified coaches. Not only will an experienced coach train the proper technique and progressions, the student will learn in a much safer environment.

We have seen many students develop a mental block while learning skills and much is due to poor coaching resulting in an accident. Once a mental block is developed, skill progression becomes much more difficult and sometimes may come to a complete halt.

Learning tumbling skills, like many other sports, takes hard work, consistent training, and time. Patience is a key element for positive growth in skill development. The road to success can be a long one.

Scott Johnson – 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist

If you are interested in a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

My new 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: http://scottsgoldmedal.com

These neoprene wrist supports are the best for gymnasts and cheerleaders experiencing wrist pain. The neoprene provides support and warmth to the joint to help relieve pain discomfort.

This is the best syle of leotards for recreational gymnastics. Get yours today!!

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Coaching, Skill Development, Training, Tumbling, Tumbling Technique

Tumbling Technique: Is There Right or Wrong?

The sports of gymnastics and tumbling are very complex and it can be considered an art. Skill development is highly complex, even at the most basic levels. There are many factors that are in play when developing skills. Strength, speed, aggression, and flexibility only to name a few. Body in motion is complex and one must have detailed knowledge and experience in the skills they are teaching in order to understand how to approach skill training.

A common question that is asked in almost every industry that entails tumbling skills is: “what is the correct technique?” This can be a serious issue with programs teaching these skills. As I mentioned, due to the complexity of the skills in this sport, coaches should have extensive knowledge of the skills they are teaching. To gain this knowledge, coaches need to train with qualified professionals that do have the knowledge and experience. Much like a physician – a doctor cannot diagnose an illness or injury without the knowledge they have learned in medical school.

When coaches are teaching skills they have little knowledge of or have not learned the proper technique or methods, there can be negative consequences. For one, the student may not learn the skills properly which may make if difficult for the student to learning more difficult skills. For example, if a student is not taught how to do a round-off with proper technique, they will struggle in learning a round-off back handspring. The biggest concern with teaching improper technique is the safety concerns. There are risks with skill development in the sport of tumbling . If the student is not taught the proper progressions with proper technique, the risk factors increase dramatically.

It is important to note that there may be several methods of technique that work for the same skill. Some coaches may teach a skill one way and others may teach a different way. Both methods may be correct which can develop the same positive result. It is also important to understand that technique development may vary from one student to the next depending on the the physical and mental attributes of the athlete. For example, a tall and thin student may need to learn a skill slightly different than a student who is small and stocky. This may effect the developmental stages, but the end result should remain mostly consistent.

Coaches need to be sensitive to technical issues when working with students from different programs. Although the coaches may have the proper knowledge and experience to teach the skills, different coaches may have different methods in teaching skills. This can be very confusing to the student at times. They may say, “my coach doesn’t want me to do it this way” or “my coach told me this was the wrong way to do it”. Introducing new or different methods of development can be a positive thing and may work but it needs to be explained to the student “why”.

In some cases, however, there are programs where the coaches do not have the knowledge and experience to teach tumbling skills properly. In these cases, the student will struggle in developing the skills properly and safely. Programs that do not have the coaching staff qualified to teach skills, should take actions to either outsource or hire someone who is properly qualified. There are usually programs or events that are scheduled within a region or community like clinics or seminars that are great for increasing education in needed areas. In addition, many questions on skill development and technique issues can also be found on social media.

There is certainly right and wrong ways to teach tumbling skills. If a coach is not sure of the proper technique or methods in development, they should not attempt to train the skill by guessing. I have seen many bad habits created and unnecessary injuries due to lack of knowledge. Don’t take chances and do what is best for the positive development of the athletes.

My new 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: http://scottsgoldmedal.com .

I am a true believer in the neoprene material for relief of joint pain and discomfort. The following product is ideal for athletes who experience wrist pain while tumbling.

Looking for the perfect leotard for your little tumbler? This is a great leotard for the recreational tumbler and gymnast!!

Improve Weaknesses, Skill Development, Success, Training

Improving Your Weaknesses

Achieving success is not an easy task, at least for most of us. For the athlete to achieve success, it may take many years of hard work and dedication. If the goal is to become competitive and achieve success at the highest levels of competition, like the Olympic Games, the time it takes may be much longer. However, even at the elementary stages of participation, success is accomplished by focusing on one major factor: Improving Your Weaknesses.

Most successful athletes have some type of natural talent which allows them to progress quickly. However, although some parts of the sport may come easy, there are other parts of the sport that may be very challenging.

For many sports that entail several or many different physical attributes to accomplish, this is a common scenario.  For example, the sport of gymnastics has different apparatus which requires totally different physical attributes to achieve.  Tumbling, for example, has no physical relation to pommel horse in men’s gymnastics.  The same may apply to bars vs beam in women’s gymnastics or hip hop vs ballet in the  dance industry. Athlete’s may be strong in one aspect or event of the sport, but is challenged by others.

For an athlete to excel in all parts of the sport, it is imperative that a major focus should be on training and improving the weaknesses. Although this may not be as fun as working your strengths, it is necessary to achieve success. In my own personal experience with competitive gymnastics, my strengths were tumbling and the rings. Skill development was easier and more comfortable to achieve. However, my challenges were the pommel horse and high bar.

Early in my competitive career, I realized that in order to achieve my dreams and goals, I needed to excel in these challenging events. I would spend almost twice as much time training on my weak events than my stronger events. The philosophy I developed is that one must maintain their strengths and improve their weaknesses. This certainly worked for me as I was able to achieve the goals I had set and become successful in the sport.

Each athlete and coach should find the perfect training schedule designed for each athlete that maximizes their potential. There needs to be a balance within the training environment where the athlete can continue to be motivated and enjoy their experience. https://scottjohnsonsgymexperience.com/2018/05/04/setting-goals-the-path-to-success/ Please note, focusing only on weak and challenging areas can quickly create negative emotions within the athlete. This can certainly effect a person’s motivation and cause consistent frustration. The result will be a decrease in effort and could cause the athlete to quit the sport.

I always stress that training environments need to be positive. Even in challenging area’s, the training atmosphere should maintain a positive experience. It’s not easy to become a champion. It takes a lot of hard work and consistent motivation. Maintain Your Strengths and Improve Your Weaknesses.

I am in the process of publishing my first training manual: “Beginner Tumbling Training” .  This will be a useful tool in training for all and any needing to learn proper technique and safety. Great for gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, martial arts, and more. I will keep you posted on that progress.

In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com


Athletes, Child Behavior, Coaching, Communication, Program Development, Training

How Do You Treat Your Students?

I believe the most difficult and challenging job a person can have is coaching and teaching children. It takes a certain type of individual to deal with children in a way that is productive, positive, and enthusiastic. The larger the group, the more challenging it becomes. Children are our best assets and it is the teachers and coaches responsibility to educate them in a highly controlled environment. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task.

Parents know how challenging it can be just to raise a family of several young children. Just think of the teacher and coach who has a group of 10 to 20 children. We often here the teaches say “they don’t listen” – “they don’t follow directions” – “they are out of control “.

This is a problem that is not uncommon in youth sports programs. It is how the coaches deal with this issue that needs to be addressed. Of course, bad behavior and uncontrolled environments should not be tolerated in order to operate a productive program.

Coaches need to take and maintain control of their classes – and in many cases, it can become a huge challenge. So how is this done? In my opinion, never by yelling at the students!! Coaching: The Communication Factor  This should never take place in any program. There are numerous ways to take control of a class that is productive and not demeaning to the students.

One way is to simply stop the class and sit the children down with no activity. Have a talk with them to explain why this is happening. Let them know that their behavior must improve before resuming activities. Another strategy is playing games to convince the students to behave. All children loves games. One popular game is “the quiet game”. Funny how it works.

Much of the means of gaining control in an out-of-control class depends on the dynamics of the class. Is it a competitive team that has a particular amount of discipline and commitment required by the participants? Are the students young or older? These factors play a large part in how to gain control.

In some cases, it may be just “one bad egg in the basket”. One disruptive child can destroy an entire class program. In this case, it is necessary to take that child out of the class. This needs to be done in a very sensitive manner. A parent conference needs to be held and options discussed. This is a sensitive issue and needs to be constructed in a manner that does not imply any discrimination.

Although most coaches do not have a degree or education in child psychology ( I certainly do not), but through many years of coaching, they should qualify for the diploma.  It takes patience, understanding, and structure to develop a program that is positive and productive for students in any program.  We cherish our children and students – let’s create and maintain the best possible environment where they can grow and achieve their own hopes and dreams.

I am in the process of publishing my first training manual: “Beginner Tumbling Training” .  This will be a useful tool in training for all and any needing to learn proper technique and safety. I will keep you posted on that progress. In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

Cheerleading and Tumbling, Coaching, Skill Development, Training, Tumbling

The Hurdle Step – The Key Ingredient


Learning how to tumble properly, safely, and in a manner where progression is desired, students need to learn many fundamental skills. There is a lot of focus on skills that are not only desired by the athlete, but also required by the sport or activity. This may include such skills as forward and back walkovers, cartwheels, aerials, and front and back handsprings. Several of these skills take a lot of time and training to achieve. In many cases, it may take years to learn how to accomplish these skills. But one skill that is overlooked and not a major focus of development is the Hurdle Step.

Although many may think this is a petty skill that should not need serious attention, it is actually a very important skill that must be trained and learned properly. The Hurdle Step precludes most tumbling skills that begin with a run or stepping motion. These will include the cartwheel, round-off, aerials, front handsprings, etc. If the hurdle is not proficient, it will affect the result of the following skills.

The hurdle step (skipping motion) is a combination of several different elements.  It begins with a run or jumping motion we call a power hurdle.  It also entails a hopping motion and ends in a lunging position.   All of these elements should be a focus on developing correctly for the hurdle to be proficient.

In the sport of tumbling and gymnastics, it is important that the athletes learn to run correctly.  It is very common to see many students not being able to run with proper technique.  Body position, stride length, and arm movements are elements that affect a proper run.  The most common problem athletes have is the stride length.  Many take small and very short strides while running.  This may cause the athlete to have more of a forward lean than necessary and could cause the athlete to “trip”.  When we see track and field athletes at the highest levels of participation, their stride lengths are incredibly long.  This not only produces speed for the run, but also more power.  When the run has short or small steps, it will make the hopping motion in the hurdle a challenge.

Within the hurdle, there is a hopping motion where the athlete hops on one foot.  In most cases, we see a very short hopping motion that may be less than foot long.  The hop should be long and travel several feet, as in the stride motion of the run.  A short hop will certainly create a tripping motion while the athlete initiates the following skill like the round-off or front handspring.  There will be almost no control in the connecting skill.  I will often break this down and have the students train on that hopping motion.  In almost every case (with the exception of advanced tumblers), students can hop further from a static position than from a running motion.  The most common reason for this short hop is the steps of the run prior to the hop.  If the athlete has too much of a forward lean in the run, the hop will likely be short.

The finish of the hurdle step should end in a lunge position.  This position will vary depending on the level of the athlete.  In more advanced levels, this lunge position will have more of a forward lean and a very large stride position.  This is due to higher speed and aggression of the tumbling pass.  At the lower levels, the lunge should be more of an upright position.  This will allow the athlete to control their arms and body positions while preparing for the next skill.

In many cases, when we see a student struggling with performing skills such as the  round-off, front handsprings, or aerials, it is not the actual skill that needs to be fixed.  It may be the preceding skill that needs attention.  Focusing on and correcting the run and hurdle step is typically and easy fix How Do I Fix That?  It just needs to be isolated so the student can change and create a better habit.  It is amazing how such a simple correction can enhance the performance of a skill.  Another easy fix, which is so important in most skills including the hurdle step, is the arm position.  Tight and straight arms extended up above the head while performing such skills can make a huge difference.  When a student has loose and floppy arm and body movements, there is little control and creates slower and weaker movements.  This should be a major focus.

More time should be spent on correcting these little things.  The simple elements that are often overlooked can make the biggest differences on development and improvement.

I am developing manuals and videos on tumbling skill development that will be useful in training for all and any needing to learn proper technique and safety. I will keep you posted on that progress. In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com