The following is an article written by Sahil M., a gymnastics and tumbling coach with nearly a decade of coaching experience. On his blog, Tumbling Coach, Sahil received a question from a cheerleader concerned with her weight. Sahil's response is something we want all cheerleaders to understand when it comes to weight and any concerns they may have about being a certain size:
I recently got a question from a reader that I think many cheerleaders (as well as other athletes) suffer from.
Dear Coach Sahil,
I found your Facebook page (Addicted To Tumbling) and have been loving the videos and content so far! But I had a question for you that I wanted to ask without it being all public of facebook since its something I'm a little sensitive about. I've been in cheerleading for about 2 years now and I've become and excellent base, my jumps are pretty good, and I have decent flexibility but my tumbling is just going no where! I have a friend that joined around the same time and she's now doing round off back handsprings. I work just as hard and do what my coaches tell me but I just can't seem to shake off the fact that I'm having a hard time because I'm a bit heavier than most girls on my team. Does this really matter? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I'm afraid if I don't catch up, me and my friend won't be on the same team!
Thanks for your time.
- Miss Frustrated
Dear Miss Frustrated,
This is not an uncommon concern you're having "“ in fact I can pretty much guarantee that every cheerleader has thought about this issue at some point in her life.
You see, in our society today, there's a lot of pressure put on women about how they should look. The definition of beauty is now considered to be air-brushed models on the covers of magazines.
Because of this, it's not uncommon to see a young lady be considered "fat" or "overweight" by the population when in fact, she's totally normal.
Don't let this end up messing with your head. I doubt you're as heavy as you think you are.
You are a beautiful, talented athlete and if you believe in yourself as much as I do, you'll be the tumbler you've always wanted to be.
But first I want you to understand something crucial:
When it comes to tumbling, you cannot defy the laws of physics.
This means a lighter athlete will definitely have an initial advantage over someone that weighs just a little bit more. They'll have an easier time throwing their body around, they will feel less pressure on their joints and they'll be easier to manipulate during a spot. All of this is coming from Obvious City, and I think you're mature enough to understand that.
But notice what I said "“ initial advantage. Because the good news is that through my years of coaching, I've seen many different types of athletes "“ tall, short, small, heavy, lanky, stocky etc., and all of them learned how to tumble successfully.
Because there are three factors that can overcome an athlete's personal weight disadvantage, and if you master these, nothing can stop you "“ I guarantee it.
Here they are...
1. Power To Weight Ratio:
The reason lighter athletes have an easier time isn't because they're talented. It's because the amount of force they can generate through their leg and arm muscles is more than enough to overcome their bodyweight. It's like a small car having lots of horsepower. So what do you do if you're a bigger car? Simple "“ put a bigger engine in it!
There's no reason to get concerned about your weight, just condition to get your muscles stronger and you'll be able to move around just as well as your lighter friend. And if you want a good conditioning program, here's a video of all the exercises I have my athletes do:
This is probably the most important factor to master. If your technique is top notch, then you'll be a top-notch tumbler... it's just that simple. I don't care what you look like, incorrect technique will lead to frustration, injury and all sorts of bad stuff "“ and no amount of "talent" can save you.
Trust me on this.
Spend lots of time perfecting the drills and body positions that are needed for your skill, and you'll reap the rewards.
This is the "secret sauce" that puts you above the rest. When you want something bad enough, and you never quit, there's no possible way you'll fail. If it takes you slightly longer to learn a back handspring than your friend, then so what? It doesn't matter as long as you get it at some point.
And once you do, maybe you'll pick up the back tuck faster than her "“ I've seen it happen.
I hope this helps, and that you keep training and keep pushing yourself. Forget what others around you are doing, because there will always be someone better. And if you keep trying to judge yourself based on other people's skills, you'll never be satisfied.
Just do your best and I promise everything else will fall into place.
Sahil M. is a retired power tumbler and a former Canadian Cheer National Champion. He is now a Level 2 Gymnastics coach with 7+ years experience, and helps athletes of all ages learn tumbling skills they've always wanted. You can read more of his articles here.
Story originally from Tumbling Coach Blog