11 Tumbling Hacks That Work So Well, It Almost Feels Like Cheating

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This article was originally published on TumblingCoach.com
Read the original right HERE: 11 Tumbling Hacks That Work So Well, It Almost Feels Like Cheating

Author: Coach Sahil M.

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Tumbling is a sport of patience.

This is especially true for those that are beginners, and have just begun their journey in the art of going upside down.

I think the reason it tests your patience is because you can never accurately predict the day you’ll accomplish a new skill or trick.

Sure you can train hard, eat well, and condition to keep yourself strong and injury free, but you can never say, “exactly X days from now, I’m going to land Y skill!”

You just work at it, then work at it some more, and one day it just lands. Then you come back another day, and it’s gone. Then it comes back again, until you become unconsciously competent and can literally throw it half asleep with the energy levels of a sloth.

Anyone that has mastered their standing back tuck, knows what I’m talking about.

But what if you there was a way you could shave a few weeks off your learning curve? What if there were little things you could do that would provide an immediate improvement in your performance?

Does something like that even exist?

Well actually, it does. I call them tumbling hacks. I use them during private lessons or while giving seminars – since I’m getting paid to deliver results as fast as humanly possible, and today I’ll share eleven of the best ones I’ve been able to dig up.

My research process was simple: I contacted a some great coaches and athletes who have figured out their own tumbling hacks, and asked if they would be willing to share their knowledge with the world. And you know what? They happily agreed!

So without further ado, let’s begin…

Tumbling Hacks From Lee Grobstein​


Tumbling Coach and Owner of Start Athletics Cheerleading

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Hack #1: Develop Round Off Power


“I would say that kicking your 2nd leg up (the back leg) in the roundoff can really help drive your kick stronger/faster thus creating more power for your tumbling pass.”

Lee has a great point here. A lot of times, athletes will get the correction to snap their feet together in the round off but this can go one of two ways:

  • They might snap them together too early, resulting in a loss of power
  • They may snap them together too late which is again, not very efficient

Instead, try this simple two step process:

  1. Train your needle kicks to be as fast as possible. Really focus on driving those heels up (see video below)
  2. Once your needle kicks have become quick, work on snapping the feet together at the 12 o’clock position in the handstand.


Once you get good at that, it’s just a matter of doing the same thing during your round off. A fun and fool-proof drill is to try a round off on to a block. It’s really hard to do this unless you have a good drive from the back leg, and a pop off your shoulders. See the video below.


Hack #2: Increase Power In Back Handsprings


“I would say that pulling the arms to horizontal (straight out in front of you) after your round off, before swinging them back, can increase the length and power of the back handspring.”

This is a great tip, especially if you’re looking to work whips in the future since having your arms out in front (or even at a 45 degree angle) instead of by your ears out of the round off can really give you a chance to drive them back as hard as possible. To see a picture of what this should look like, I’ve thrown in a picture below using my good ol’ action figure (his name is Kenny, btw)

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If you’ve been doing back handsprings for a long time and already have lots of power, then this might not be a hack for you since there’s no point in fixing what’s not broken. But for anyone that needs to work their speed (especially if you’re level 1-3), then you should definitely give this a try.

Tumbling Hack From Richard Marks​


Gymnastics Coach, and active Power Tumbler (his Facebook)​

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Hack #3: Getting more set for a back tuck or layout.



“This advice is for anyone who already can do a back tuck or layout and wants to learn how to make it higher. One thing that I’ve been doing to achieve more height in any of my tumbling is keeping in mind a very simple technique: if you want to go higher in your sets, you have to get your upper body lower.

What that means is that whether you’re tumbling out of a round-off or a back handspring, it’s very important to focus on looking at the floor and trying to keep your chest as low to the ground as possible before take off. You can achieve this in one of two ways:

  1. As you rebound off your shoulders, you want to absorb slightly through your arms (yes, bend them) so that you get lower to the ground before pushing hard and standing up quickly! Or…
  2. Make your back handsprings longer and really reach back, which in effect brings you lower to the ground like the first technique but you don’t have to sacrifice form to achieve it; however, this technique is a lot harder and takes a lot more strength.

Focusing on looking at the floor longer, getting your chest closer to the ground and standing up quicker will all help to a higher and more efficient set!”

It’s no secret that a deeper and stronger block gives you more height for your end skills, but what I like about Richard’s approach is that he helps you achieve the same result in two different ways. I’ve thrown in two pictures below, using Kenny to demo it for me.

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If you want video representation of the first method (arms bending) you need to look no further than Brandon McCuien. And for a video of someone who’s mastered the art of a blocking low with beautiful straight arms, see Florian Landuyt.

Both great tumblers with two different approaches to blocking. Use what works best for you.

Tumbling Hacks From Elliot Helms​


Tumbling Coach and Active Power Tumbler (his Facebook)​

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Hack #4: Ultimate Round Offs


“Probably the ultimate hack is the kick over the head in the round off, if the chasse(ing) motion is fast and the kick hard, it rotates the round off faster and takes a ton of pressure of your hands.”

I know what you’re thinking, “Hey wait a minute, isn’t this similar to the tumbling hack Lee was talking about?”

And the answer is yes. The reason I didn’t edit it out, is because I wanted you to see the importance of having a powerful round off. It’s always amazing to see how great coaches and athletes end up with similar conclusions. This tumbling hack is a great example of that!

Hack #5: Front Twisting Without Getting Lost


“In front fulls you should actually look over the opposite twisting shoulder, which allows you to see the ground the whole time.”

Pretty self-explanatory. Elliot is one of the only people I’ve ever seen do a split kick Adolf (3.5 front twisting) and so when it comes to front twisting, he definitely knows what he’s talking about.

Hack #6: Smelly Twisting (this one is my fav!)


“Can’t get a student to get their head turned around to spot in a full? Putch a scratch and sniff sticker on their twisting shoulder and have them tell you what flavor it is after the full, if they don’t know the flavor then their chin wasn’t turned in!”

After Elliot told me about this, I have made it a mission to go shopping for a boat load of scratch and sniff stickers. It’s so simple, yet so brilliant that you can’t afford not to try it.

And why not get creative with it? After thinking about it, another way you can use this is when athletes that have very open tucks (front or back). Put the stickers on their knees – they will have to tuck tighter if they want to smell the flavor!

Hack #7: Get That Chin Down


“Can’t get a student to get their head in? Especially in double backs or vaulting? Teach backward rolls with arms behind head grabbing your opposite elbows.”

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Like this, but grab your elbows


This one is great because it’s basically fool proof.

If you need to see it visually, see the image to your right (note: the only difference is that she’s putting her hands behind the head, but you should use them to grab your elbows)

What you’ll find is that your forearms really don’t allow your head to be thrown back, so when you attempt the back roll, it forces you to feel what it’s like to have your chin tucked in.

I cannot tell you how important a tucked chin in for your tucks and layouts. I literally will not let an athlete progress to layouts until they’ve shown me good back tucks and pikes with their chin tucked in.

The reason?

My job is mainly to coach tumbling, not fix tumbling. Getting it right the first time is a lot easier than correcting a bad habit later on.

So if your chin needs some work, give this a shot!

Tumbling Hacks That I Use​


Tumbling Coach, Powerlifter, Taco Eating Specialist​

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Hack #9: Go Higher… Without Actually Going Higher


When I train standing back tucks – especially on blocks – the one question I’m always asked is, “How do you jump so high?”

And my answer is, “I don’t!”

Now I’m not saying I haven’t spent time training my vertical jumps, I have and you should too. It’s definitely beneficial. But since developing strength takes time, I cannot classify it as a hack. We want results now.

Truth be told, plenty of guys out there can jump as high, if not higher than me. The reason my standing tucks (and fulls) look as high as they do, is because I really drive my center of gravity (hips) as high as possible.

See the illustration below.

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The easiest way to work this hack is to do jump backs on to a mat that is at least hip-height, while landing in a candle stick position. While driving the hips up, focus on the following 3 things:

  1. Keeping your chin down​
  2. Opening up your shoulders but not bending your back​
  3. Squeezing your glutes (your butt)​

See my back tuck video below to see the end results.


For those who want to see how this applies to a standing full, see the video here.

“Getting it right the first time is a lot easier than correcting a bad habit later on” (Tweet This)
Hack #10: Your Tumbling Is What You Eat?


As far as sports are concerned, tumbling is about as “unnatural” as you can possibly get. Think about it for a second, soccer revolves around running; something we’re designed to do. Football (or Rugby) requires throwing, running and smashing into each other; something humanity has been doing for a while. But tumbling? Well we weren’t exactly designed to hurl ourselves upside down.

So as a tumbler, you need to take advantage of every edge that you can get. This is why inadequate nutrition is something you cannot afford to ignore.

Below is a simple but powerful smoothie recipe I’ve come up with, which will do the following: Flood your body with anti-oxidants (which will help reduce muscle soreness), repair and rebuild muscle tissue (so you can come back stronger) and finally, provide you with ample energy so you can push hard at practice.

I’d drink this 1 hour before practice and then again immediately right after.



  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries​
  • 1 banana​
  • 1/2 cup low-fat greek yogurt​
  • 1/4 cup tart cherry juice​
  • 1 teaspoon honey​
  • 1/3 scoop vanilla whey protein​

You may add water, extra tart cherry juice or even some orange juice if you want to make the consistency a bit thinner. Play around with it to see what you like. For more nutrition based hacks for cheerleaders and tumblers, don’t forget to check out my upcoming book!

Hack #11: Fixing The Set Before The Twist


If you’re working on your full or double twist, chances are you’ve been told to “set” before you actually do the twist. Nothing wrong with that, as it’s a very common correction, and something that takes time to master. But here’s something that will fix the setting problem in literally 10 minutes (provided you have a solid layout!)

It’s called a layout to pushup, and I picked it up at the amazing Woodward Camp. Basically, you do a round off >BHS into layout with the arms in the set position (by your ears), and leave them there! While doing this, stay in a hollow body position and you’ll notice your layout rotates slowly. Be patient and keep it that way until you land in the pushup position. Once you land, you can do a log roll in whichever direction you twist.

See the video of one of my athletes below.


I haven’t found any other drill out there, which teaches you to delay your twist as well as this one. But be advised, if you throw your head back, drop the arms to do anything else that’s weird, it won’t work. You need a solid layout, not those pikey looking things I see so often.

Final Thoughts


I hope you enjoyed these tumbling hacks, and that you get to try them out the next time you hit the gym. But before I sign off, I should say that you should never neglect working on your basics.

Sure, it’s fun to use these once in a while, but if you really want to improve (and continue improving), your fundamentals not only need to be strong, you need to work them every single time you hit the gym.

A tumbler who applies some of these tumbling hacks to a strong foundation of basics will see their tumbling improve so quickly, it will seem like magic.

Found This Article Useful? Don’t forget to share with your friends, coaches and teammates!


Liked this article? Visit TumblingCoach.com for even more great pieces just like this!
 
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