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 Roundoff
The roundoff is the most standard entry for advanced tumbling passes. The key to the roundoff is its power. With practice your roundoff should be so powerful that it springs you back into the air after you land (called a rebound) "“ which of course is your lead-in for a tumbling pass.


How to do a Roundoff
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  • 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 hands will land one at a time, and as your second hand lands you should be simultaneously kicking your back leg into the air (the leading leg will be reaching a vertical position).

  • Instead of keeping your legs in a "V" position through the move, you need to pull your back leg into position to match your leading leg. You are not going to stop in a vertical position during any point in this move, you just need to use your ab muscles and momentum to pull that back leg into position.

  • As your legs are coming together, they will also be pulling you over your body. As that is happening, you need to push off of the ground. You'll push your legs down toward the ground as you are pulling your head and shoulders up.

  • You will land with your legs together, facing the opposite direction that you were when you started. As you land, make sure to bend your knees to absorb the shock, and to help you push off for your rebound.

  • For your rebound, your body should be vertical: arms and legs straight, fingers and toes pointed. Keep your legs together during your rebound.

  • Since you are not doing a tumbling pass, you should land your rebound with your body still vertical, and try to hold that position with no steps or additional hops.

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

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


Once you can successfully complete a roundoff started from a standing position, try taking a few steps into the first moves. After you are comfortable with that, try to turn those steps into running steps for more power. This will help you learn how to control your rebound, a skill that will be needed to complete passes.

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!