Tumbling drills that you should be doing

Hi All,

So today’s post is about taking your time with the tumbling. I know, I know, it’s fun sometimes to have the five year-old do a back tuck. I know sometimes we get tempted to have the kids JUST ADD that second back handspring. But here is what I am saying. In the long run, that’s probably going to do a little more harm than good. Yes, we need to up-train, yes we need to get our gymnasts turning upside down and flipping etc early. But please, please, don’t sacrifice technique for the sake of flipping.

This first video is of a back handspring set-up that I like. I don’t totally agree with the position at the VERY beginning, but I like the result. This is very similar to what I do with my gymnasts, and I would rather spot this for months than watch one or two of them do frog springs. It’s worth it to put the time in on the front end.

This second video is an easy way to help your girls keep their heads in. I wouldn’t recommend this with lower levels. But it’s a good way to emphasize (even if too extremely) where their head should be. I like this especially because one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is tumbling with heads out. But ESPECIALLY whippy back layouts that start by throwing their head back. If you have gymnasts doing that take them back a few steps fix the technical errors early. It will help immensely when they have to 1/1s and more.

Train hard!

Photo Credit: Nicole Webb’s Website


  1. wordsmith says:

    I don’t totally agree with the position at the VERY beginning,

    Hey Zari,

    I know you mentioned something similar in regards to another video clip where the gymnasts begin in a pike stretch.

    I realize it’s an unconventional approach, and I myself am “experimenting with it”. But to understand the reasons why, perhaps this video will help illuminate the technique and the drilling:


    My mentor, Wade, teaching round-offs both arms and chest up fast and also remaining in a pike- each for different reasons and purpose.

    Staying in a pike has a lot to do with the physical strength of young gymnasts who are being asked to connect round-off backhandsprings. When they are told to get their arms and chest off the floor quickly, yet lack the physical strength to do so, what ends up happening typically? Head throwing back and chest throwing out prematurely (when they are still forward rather than falling backward) when the arms go up.

    What is important, and where the emphasis is being placed here, is in getting the gymnast to get to that off-balanced position and jumping with a hollow chest before opening and stretching (not very well drilled nor demonstrated in this clip).

    Don’t expect a lot of agreement. But hope that clarifies for some readers out there.

    And if anyone has doubts as to the validity of this approach, just look toward the end of the video for where this leads.

    • wordsmith says:

      Wish there was an edit button. :p

      The first paragraph should read “pike sit” and not “pike stretch”.

      A couple other grammar typos/awkward sentence construct, but I think smart readers can figure those out.

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