Tumbling For Cheerleaders Week 2 - The Rookie 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 rookie tumbling moves: the front and back walkover and the roundoff. These three moves are extensions of the fundamental tumbling moves that I covered last week, and serve as the entries into complex tumbling passes. (If you missed the beginner's article, be sure to review it here; you'll be using those techniques to perform 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. Attempting ANY tumbling without the proper training may result in serious injury.

How To Do A Front Walkover
The front walker is a simple move, but it is difficult to master. You need to be very limber and flexible, and also have control over your body's weight for balancing. Learning this skill is well worth it, and vital if you expect to move on to advanced tumbling moves.


How to do a Front Walkover
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  • Stand facing forward, with one foot slightly in front of the other (with your toes pointed) 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.

  • As you reach your hands for the ground, kick your back leg up into the air. Kick hard enough to throw your entire body over, but be careful not to lose control. 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 continue to follow through, keeping your legs extended as you pull them up, over and behind your shoulders. Keep your legs an equal distance apart, straight, with your toes pointed.

  • As you pull your leading leg toward the ground behind you, also begin to slightly bend that knee to absorb your landing. Your other leg will simultaneously be reaching a vertical position.

  • Shift your weight to your leading leg as it touches down, and push off the ground with your hands. Use your abs to bring yourself back into a standing position. You will finish in the same position that you started in.

Make sure each step is done quickly and consecutively to result in one continual motion.

Watch your form and positioning; hips should be pressed forward. Don't rush standing up, it will only make you fall backwards. Let your natural momentum help push you upright, with your head and arms coming into position last.

NEXT:
Rookie's Guide To Tumbling For Cheerleading: Back Walkover
Rookie's Guide To Tumbling For Cheerleading: Roundoff


Once you have mastered these rookie moves (and not a moment before!), you can start combining them for more complexity. Here are some moves you can try that will help you craft your technique into controlled skill:

  • Try a one-handed roundoff. You'll always match the hand you are using to your leading leg. The hand that you are not using should be bent at the elbow and tucked in close to your side.

  • Pause your cartwheel in the middle, when you are in the handstand position. Instead of resuming the cartwheel, try transitioning from the handstand position to a front walkover.

  • To start prepping for tumbling passes, try doing several basic moves consecutively. Move into a back walkover immediately following a cartwheel, then into a front walkover, then a handstand.

  • Perform a single move several times in a row. This will gety our body ready for the jumble of passes by helping you work on your balance and teaching you to control your dizziness.


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!