Tumbling For Cheerleaders Week 3 "“ The Expert Moves

Get tips for more tumbling moves in the free Tumbling for Cheerleading Guide, available now!

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 with maximum flexibility and stamina.

This week I'll cover three advanced tumbling moves: the front and back handspring and the aerial. These moves are extensions of beginner tumbling moves and rookie tumbling moves. You need to have those moves mastered before attempting to learn these advanced moves. Don't expect a "˜shortcut' or "˜quick way' to learn any tumbling moves "“ they don't exist. Attempting any tumbling move without the proper training and supervision can result in serious injury. Use mats, training equipment and spotters until you have mastered tumbling moves. Don't forget to properly stretch and warm up!

How To Do A Back Handspring
The back handspring, like the roundoff, is a staple move for tumbling passes. Likely, the back handspring comes directly after the roundoff. Make sure your back is limber, before attempting this move, by practicing back bends and back walkovers.


How To Do A Back Handspring
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  • Start by standing with your feet together and legs straight, arms raised. Go into a controlled squat while at the same time swinging your arms down and behind you. Don't hold back with your arm swing. You want it to be powerful so you can build enough momentum for your backward motion. During your squat, you should transfer your weight to your heels and slightly arch your back.

  • As you begin to rise from your squat, you should also begin leaning backwards. Your arms should be swinging forward and upward. Use the power of your legs coming out of the squat, and a strong hip thrust, to push off the ground. Important: jump backwards, not upwards. As soon as you push off the ground, you should lock your legs and arms.

  • As you are launching backwards, begin to drop your arms and head backwards. Do not look behind you; let your head naturally follow the movement of your body. While you are in the air, your body should be tight and tensed. This will help you stay in control.

  • Your body should remain in an arched position as your hands are reaching the ground. Use the momentum from your legs to follow through with the kickover. As your hands reach the ground, your legs are coming up and over your body.

  • As you whip your legs over your body to carry through with the move, and reach your feet for the ground, you should also use a powerful shoulder shrug to push your hands off the floor and launch your body back into the air.

  • Once your legs have come around and under you, begin bringing your chest up to prepare to land in a standing position. If you do not bring your chest up, you will just fall forward and have to catch yourself with your hands.

  • Land with your knees loose, not locked, so they will bend and absorb the impact. Begin straightening your upper body while swinging your arms up and over you. Once the move is finished, you will be in the same position that you started in.


There is a fun and effective trick to help you with the most difficult part of the handspring: practice the push. Push off the ground from a basic handstand position. Keeping doing it so that you are actually hopping on your hands. This will help you build muscle and perfect the push technique.

NEXT:
Expert's Guide To Tumbling For Cheerleading: Front Handspring
Expert's Guide To Tumbling For Cheerleading: Aerial


Once you have mastered all 3 of the expert moves (and not a moment before!), you can start combining them with other moves to create tumbling passes. Here are some combinations you can try that will help you craft your technique into controlled skill. Start slow, and work on getting faster after you are comfortable with the changes and shifts in movement.

  • Roundoff, backhandspring

  • Roundoff, backhandspring, backhandspring

  • Roundoff, backhandspring, cartwheel

  • Roundoff, backhandspring, front walkover

  • Aerial, front handspring, back handspring


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.

Keep practicing these moves, and I'll see you next Friday to go over the steps for the next level of tumbling moves!