Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Let’s imagine for a moment that your tumbling is a movie. (For your parents, your tumbling classes will look like a comedy.. Tumbling by definition is the dance of falling so if you’re not falling, you’re not trying!)
But, if you really think about it, your running passes are really very similar to movies: your entry or round-off is the intro: it sets the stage and determines how the rest of your pass will progress. Then comes the build-up as you gain power through your handspring(s), and maybe even having a specialty like a rebound half turn to add a twist to the plot. The suspense is built up; the power is there for the taking and all you have left to do is to wow them with your tuck! The “OOH AHHHHH” moment.
Is the climax to your movie going to be the next big hit? Here are the 3 main secrets on how to ensure that happens!
At times, when you progress from floor-bound tumbling skills to tucks, you feel like you have less control and it can be scary. But that is simply because it is new and remind yourself that new is exciting, rather than scary. Going up is different and new. Exciting! Associate positive and good feelings about skills because your body remembers those emotions during that activity. So stay super positive about going up!
Tumbling can easily be broken down like a math problem - but don’t worry - there are no numbers! Back tucks can be broken down a couple ways:
Rebound + Backward Roll + Stick + Stand = Running Back Tuck Straight Jump + Backward Roll + Stick + Stand = Standing Tuck Hollow + Slight Arch + Hollow To Tuck + Hollow = Tuck
Most of these elements are essential and part of every progression that your coaches teach you: like Lego bricks are needed to build a castle. The most important part of the back tuck is mastering the “hollow - arch - to hollow” shaping in the back tuck because overarching, or mistiming the movement will alter the height and rotation of the tuck making it much more difficult or scary for many athletes.
YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
One of the secrets to the best back tucks is using your eyes: this cannot be stressed enough! If you're tumbling with your eyes closed you will be less consistent and it will be a lot more scary. Also, it doesn’t allow your body to naturally adjust to your surroundings if you do make a mistake. It is like putting your arms out, closing your eyes, and running full speed at the wall (which we do not recommend doing!). The farther away you start, the scarier it becomes because it is much harder to guess when you are going to meet the wall.
This is very true in your back tuck; the more things you are able to spot and see, the easier it is to know when to perform certain elements of the skill. This, is your TIMING. You can be strong and have great technique, but without timing you can throw everything off.
So many athletes forget to finish looking up and end up cutting the skill short, assuming they are done because they already “flipped”. WRONG! We’re not saying you should stick your head out like a turtle trying to spot your landing, but you need to spot to finish your tuck. Otherwise it’s like a sentence with no full stop at the end
(see what I mean?)
GET YOUR HANDS UP IN THE AIR
As you may know, there is a huge difference between getting your arms and actually using them! Your arms in a tumbling set are like your anchor: not like a typical boat anchor that pulls you down, but like an airplane anchor that lifts you up! What we’re talking about specifically is the ACTIVE SET: If you continue lifting through your arms, shoulders, while staying as tight as possible in the hollow through our lower body, you will tuck up through your arms to achieve a tuck that sets well. This will help you make easy transitions to your next chronological skill progression ex: layout.
So these are the 3 tricks you need to tuck your way to success! If you want more detail and see the drills in action that Justin recommends using CheerBandz, to really master these 3 key skills - join us on CheerConditioning.Academy for an in-depth version of this topic and videos, as well as accessing our entire video library of workouts, drills, articles, routines, and downloadable resources.