Beginner’s Guide To Tumbling For Cheerleading

by omni

Want stunting advice and tips for cheerleading or gymnastics? Then you’ve come to the right place! Check out all of Cheerleading Blog’s how-to articles on stunts and tumbling. We’ll walk you through the basics, from simple cheerleading jumps and motions, like scorpions, to advanced tumbling, like aerials.

Tumbling: The Basics

Tumbling is a form of gymnastics that requires athletes to use their bodies to flip, twist, roll and jump. Tumbling is most often used at cheerleading competitions and during gymnastics routines at the Olympics, but dancers and other stage performers also tap tumbling to give their show a “wow” factor. To excel in tumbling, you must be disciplined, skilled, fast and strong. You also need to have maximum flexibility and stamina.

Let’s look at three basic tumbling moves: the handstand, cartwheel and back bend. These three moves are fundamental to tumbling, and you’ll be using the techniques that you learn from them when you perform any advanced moves. Before you start, remember that it is important to always be safe! Use mats, training equipment and spotters until you have practiced and mastered your tumbling moves. Don’t forget to properly stretch and warm up before practicing and performing any tumbling moves.

How To Do A Handstand
Handstands are the gateway for tumbling! They are great for learning balance, and practicing them even helps build your core strength and perfect your form.

  • Stand facing forward, with one foot slightly in front of the other and your arms straight up over your head. Exhale, tighten your abdominal, and begin bending forward to place your hands on the ground (fingers pointing forward). Prepare to lock your elbows when your hands hit the ground. Bending them during this move will cause you to collapse.
  • As you place your hands on the ground, use your momentum to kick your back leg up into the air. Make sure you control your kick; if you kick too hard you’ll just throw your entire body over. To maintain your balance, keep your hands flat and shoulder-width apart, with your fingers spread out slightly.
  • As your first leg is approaching a vertical position, you should kick your other leg into the air as well, shifting your weight to your arms and shoulders.
  • Your movement should stop when your entire body is in the vertical position, with your legs together and straight and your toes pointed. Try to hold your weight just slightly over your shoulders.
  • To dismount, you can somersault, split down or make up your own move!

Watch your form and positioning; try to be as straight as possible. Keep your back from arching, or hips from bending, by tightening your stomach. Once you’ve mastered the moves, try holding your handstand for a few seconds longer each time you do it to build strength and improve balance.

How To Do A Cartwheel
The basic cartwheel is an extension of the handstand. The entry is switched from front to side, and you use your momentum to follow through after reaching a vertical position.

  • Stand with one leg forward and slightly bent at the knee and your arms straight up over your head. Reach toward the ground with the hand that matches the forward leg, turning your entire body to the side slightly. At the same time, you should be kicking your back leg up and out.
  • Your other hand should hit the ground immediately after the first, and you should be simultaneously kicking your other leg into the air. Your hands should land flat with your fingers facing away from your head. Keep your legs straight and your toes pointed throughout the move.
  • Keep your momentum to follow through the entire move. Your legs should stay apart, in a “V” position, for the entire move.
  • As your first foot reaches the ground on the other side, you should begin lifting your leading hand, followed by your other hand. This will give you natural momentum to complete the move by pulling your second leg over until that foot reaches the ground as well.
  • You will land in the same position you started in, just opposite. You will be facing the other way, and the leg that was originally the back leg will now be the forward leg.

It is important to make sure that your weight goes completely up and over. If you are staying close to ground, and not passing through a vertical position, you are not doing a cartwheel correctly.

How To Do A Back Bend
The backbend is fundamental if you are hoping to do advanced tumbling like back handsprings and back tucks. Don’t rush your body when you are learning this move; you need to make sure you are doing it right. Keep stretching and practicing and you’ll get it!

  • Start standing straight, feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight over you in the air. Do NOT start this move with your arms crossed over your chest. You won’t have enough time to get your arms in the correct position to catch you.
  • Raise your arms and start to arch your back and reach behind you. Your arms are going up and over your head, and your head is beginning to drop behind you (so that you are looking behind yourself upside down).
  • Continue this movement, reaching for the ground. Let your hands hit the ground to catch you, and keep your head off the ground. Your arms will be close to your ears, with your thumb closest to your temple, your pinky furthest from your temple and your fingers spread and pointed toward your feet. Keep your heels firmly on ground, don’t go up on your tippy toes.
  • To release a back bend at a basic level, you can just lift your head and lower yourself by bending your knees and elbows.

Once you have mastered these basic moves, you can start combining them to make the move more complex. Here are some moves you can try that will help you craft your technique into controlled skill:

  • Try a one-handed cartwheel. You’ll always match the hand you are using to your leading leg.
  • Pause your cartwheel in the middle, when you are in the handstand position.
  • If you can do that, instead of resuming the cartwheel, try transitioning from the handstand position to a backbend.

Make sure you wear the correct cheerleading shoes and practice wear when you are learning how to tumble. Your shoes should be flexible and supportive, and your practice wear should be tight-fitting so your body won’t get tangled in extra material.

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