Everyone loves to see some good cheerleading tumbling during a half time show or during a big game. Being able to tumble well is a good way to ensure your space on a squad too! While tumbling isn't a must for every squad, it certainly helps with the "wow" factor in impressing the crowds.
Tumbling in Cheerleading
Cheerleaders did not begin to tumble in routines until the 1920s. Up until that point, cheerleading had been more like "yell" leading, with the yell leaders getting the crowd to join in to support their team.
Initially, the gymnastics incorporated into a routine were simply one cartwheel or a couple back handsprings. It wasn't until organized competitions were formed that cheerleaders began adding tumbling passes to their routines.
Tumbling and Tryouts
Being a good tumbler can often guarantee you a spot on the squad, particularly in high school where not everyone on the squad might tumble. It is much easier to teach someone cheers and moves than it is to teach tumbling. There are a few things to keep in mind when trying out for a squad:
- Only do skills about which you're extremely confident. You'll already be nervous, and while that back flip you're working on might seem like it would be impressive, it won't be if they're picking you up off the floor.
- This is one of the only times you won't have a spotter. Therefore, it's better to stick to passes that have round offs, back hand springs and cartwheels. Only do flips if you're accustomed to doing them or you're a trained gymnast.
- Don't do a running pass, but rather simply incorporate some tumbling into what you're doing from where you stand. Generally, when running passes are done in cheerleading tumbling, there are spotters who know what's coming next.
- Minimize your tumbling efforts if you are not trying out on a padded floor. Getting hurt is simply not worth it. If you have to minimize your efforts due to safety concerns, it is okay to let the judges know that you are capable of tumbling or to highlight your experience in gymnastics on a sheet.
Cheerleading Tumbling Routines
There are two basic types of tumbling your squad will do. During a game, your squad might choose to have one tumbler do walk overs, hand springs, cartwheels and round offs in front of your squad while cheering. It makes the cheer more interesting to watch, and a good tumbler always impresses a crowd.
In competition or during a longer routine, your squad may choose to all do one element together or to have a few select gymnasts do running passes through the squad during the routine.
What your squad does should always depend on safety. Competition floors will always be padded and should always be safe to tumble on. However, if you're cheering at a football game, it's unlikely that there will be padding on the football field. It also isn't safe to do anything that distracts a cheerleader from watching the game, lest the football fall out of bounds inviting the whole squad of football players into the squad of cheerleaders. During games, cheerleaders need to be able to get out of the way if players come too close. Likewise, there is probably not padding on the gym floor during a half time game.
It is extremely important to choose tumbling that's safe for your squad to perform during their routines.
Tips for Teaching Cheerleading Tumbling
If you're starting relatively new, the best place to learn tumbling is from a gymnastics center. However, tumbling passes can be taught during practice. Here are a few general tips for teaching passes or a few tumbling moves:
- Always start out teaching the maneuver individually.
- Cheerleaders should always practice on padded flooring with appropriate mats.
- There should always be a certified safety spotter. (If you look in the background at major competitions, you'll see that adult spotters can generally be seen.)
To teach a tumbling pass, begin by having each girl that's going to do the pass practice it one at a time with a spotter over mats. Once the tumblers are confident, you can begin to incorporate the moves into a routine. Incorporate them slowly, and make sure that they know where they're going lest they run into each other!
Cheerleading Tumbling and Safety: What You Should Know
The most important thing to know is that you should have a safety certified coach. Most major cheerleading organizations have their own safety certification. In addition, any competition that your squad attends has rules and regulations regarding the safety of cheerleading tumbling. Remember, even if your tumbling looks impressive, it won't be if you wipe out. No one wants to go to a competition aspiring for a trophy and come home knowing that one of their squad members is in the hospital.