How Long Does it Take to Learn a Tumbling Skill? — Part 1 — Physical Factors: Post 1 of 4

  

**As I mentioned in my previous post, this post is only part of a long article I’ve been working on. This is my first installment, “Part 1”.  I plan on having 3-4 “Parts” in totality.  Each “Part” will have between 3-5 “Posts.” My goal of release content in chunks, like this, is to get content out more frequently, instead of having my (ever growing) folder of unfinished articles become even larger!**  

 
 

As a tumbling instructor, one of the most common questions I am asked by new athletes and parents is “How long will it take to learn this skill?” Unfortunately, this question is very difficult to answer. There are many factors to consider when determining the length of time required for an athlete to master a particular skill, and these factors vary greatly from one athlete to the next. The goals of this series of articles is to help athletes and parents better understand the process of learning and mastering a skill, as well as to provide some tips on how to accelerate this process.

 

— The points I make in this post will apply for all tumbling skills; but for simplicity’s sake, I will be using one the most commonly learned tumbling skills by cheerleaders — the back handspring. —

 

Physical Factors:

 

The most essential components of learning any new tumbling skill are physical in nature. In order to safely perform a back handspring independently, an athlete’s  body needs to be prepared to produce, utilize, and sustain the high the amounts of force involved with the skill. Strength, flexibility, coordination, and physical development are all physical aspects that affect the learning of new tumbling skills. Overlooking any of these factors could result in injuries such as sprains, fractures, concussions, or worse! Think of these physical aspects as the foundation of a building. Without a good foundation, a building could collapse. In the same way, not being physically prepared for a skill is setting yourself up for failure and/or injury when learning how to tumble.

 
 
 

Strength:

It’s no secret that tumblers need to have strong muscles. In a back handspring, strong, fast, legs produce the explosive jump needed to propel a tumbler up and back into an inverted handstand position; strong shoulders allow the tumbler to forcefully push into the floor “springing” them from their hands back to their feet, and a strong core is essential to keeping the body moving together seamlessly throughout the skill.  But strong muscles are not only used to generate the force needed to get over in a back handspring. When landing, muscles act to decelerate, or slow down, the force produced during the skill in order to protect bones, ligaments, and other vital organs from trauma. Adequate strength is essential to tumbling because it necessary to perform skills, as well as land them safely.

 

 

I hoped you enjoyed this post! Keep checking back for Part 1: Post 2: Flexibility!

-Cheers
Matt Faherty

Advertisements

Q&A: Wobbly Single-Leg Stunts

I can never seem to get myself to sit down and write on a schedule. But I often find myself writing long replies to questions asked on the Fierceboad or sent by email. Most of those reply’s length rival those of my actual posts. So I decided I will share some of those questions/answers on here.

Question : I have a level 2 youth team and their one leg stunts have become weak and wobbly. Does anyone have any ideas to help strengthen this area?

Answer: That’s a pretty general question. It’s like going to the doctors and simply saying “I’m sick.” He’s going to need know symptoms, and details to be able to properly diagnose/treat you.

Likewise, on the forum, we will need to know a little more about those “shaky stunts” to be able to give accurate advise on how to fix them. A video would probably be best. But recording and posting videos can be a bit of a gray area legally, unless you have a release from all parents of the athletes involved. So I wouldn’t recommend it.

A few general suggestions:

-Look at the grip and building technique of the bases.

-Watch for any muscle compensations in the bases when putting up the stunt. For example, holding the stunt in front of their bodies, instead of overhead, excessive arching of the back, or knees turning in or out when holding the stunt. Any of these could indicate your bases need to get stronger to be able to control the stunt.

-Make sure the flyer has correct body positioning when loading and building the stunt.

-Look to see if the flyer has the ability to balance and stabilize their body throughout the stunt. Can your flyer do the skills balanced on a stable surface such as the floor?

-Make sure that your flyer has proper flexibility and strength to be able to hit each body position. Poor flexibility can cause altered movements in the air. An example of this would be poor hamstring flexibility, which would cause your flyer to drop their chest when performing a single leg heel stretch. Another would be inflexible/over-active hip-flexors which could cause the flyer to excessively arch in their their back in a scorpion.

Anyways, these are just a few general things to look for when diagnosing stunting issues. Like I said before, to be able to definitively tell you how to fix your teams stunts, I would need more information.

Hope this helps,
Coach Matt
Full-Out: Cheer and Fitness

 

Read more from this post, or join in on the conversation by CLICKING HERE!

Why practice DOESN’T ALWAYS make perfect!

Throughout my life I have heard the expression “practice makes perfect” repeated by coaches, teachers, and parents alike. Although the advice was given with good intentions, their message could be interoperated as “repeat something enough times and you will become better at it.” That message is at best inaccurate, and at worst is Albert Einstein’s very definition of INSANITY! For this reason I prefer the phrase Perfect practice makes perfect.” 

Continue reading