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.



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!

Matt Faherty

My Thought Tonight

Tumbling is about the journey, not the destination.
Teaching it is a service, not a product.
A skill can not be bought like a commodity. — It can only be learned by practice and mastery of various fundamental sub-skills.
To lack the desire to learn, or to be taught is the only limiting factor.
And it is one that the athletes themselves control.

Join Coach Matt at Camp Woodward this summer! Click the picture above for more info on Woodward’s world class cheer camp!

Make it a great week!

-Matt Faherty