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 An Aerial
The standard definition of an aerial is that it is a no-handed cartwheel. This is a good initial description, but the actual technique for execution is very different. Attempting a standard cartwheel with no hands can likely end in injury. Work with a professional, study the steps below and
practice a lot before showing off this move in front of your friends.
- There are many approaches that can be used for entry into an aerial. As a beginner, though, you should practice this move as a power move, using a 3-step run into a hurdle as your approach. You should be able to get all the power you need from 3 steps; speed is not as important as technique for an aerial.
- Your first step forward should be taken with your back leg so that your lead leg will come forward and up in the hurdle, and will be the leg that you lift off from. Concentrate on getting height in your hurdle, not on traveling forward, and raise both arms straight into the air.
- As you land your hurdle, your body should be leaning forward as if you were diving into a cartwheel. Instead of allowing your momentum to carry you down, use your lead leg to push your body upwards, upwards, upwards, and throw your back leg straight up into the air. At the same time, you will be twisting your body to the side just like you do for a cartwheel (your chest will turn into the direction of your lead leg).
- Height is the most important element of your lift off. If you do not use enough upwards force to get into the air, you are going to be too close to the ground and will need to put your hands down to protect yourself.
- Your arms should swing down and then back as you are lifting off. That movement will help add more height to your move, and boost the momentum you need for your rotation. During your rotation, you will keep your arms out.
- Your legs are going to rotate over your upper body, and need to do so quickly. You need to kick fast, and hard enough to keep the rotation going until your legs reach the floor at the end of the move.
- As your first foot lands, make sure to bend your knee slightly to absorb the impact. Begin to lift your body from your chest. That will help your lead leg finish its rotation. As your lead leg lands, turn your body out and shift your weight to that leg, again bending the knee to absorb the impact. Naturally, your other leg will straighten.
As a practice drill while you are learning how to do an aerial, dive into a cartwheel with no hands and drop your hands to the ground only at the end of the move to help you complete the rotation. You can also use springboards and mats to help you work on your take-off.
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!