Coach, We are thinking about taking the year off to concentrate on tumbling. This way she will be ready to go next season with ALL the skills you want!
Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly how it works. See one of the major factors involved in learning tumbling is time. Many times, athletes (and parents) only perceive learning tumbling when they are be spotted on a skill beyond their capability at the time. This couldn’t be any further than reality. I think I speak for most gym owners that I’ve never seen this actually work out the way a parent wanted. In concept I suppose someone could work/enroll 5-7 hours of properly taught tumbling per week and this could be a reality but I’ve never seen that happen. (Maybe for the first month?) In reality it is difficult enough just to keep up.
The truth is, majority of skills are “learned” or “realized” in a few days or less… That is, when they are ready to learn them. When the body/mind is properly conditioned and certain skills are mastered with great form, progressing to new skills is a easy process. The actual process of learning is generally longer as it takes many progressions of both physical gain and other concepts such as air awareness, and muscle memory. Many people confuse skills being “learned” when the skill is actually just “realized”. The moment they are able to do them properly for the first time after much time spent mastering fundamental skills and strengthening core concepts that make learning new skills easy.
There is virtually no chance that an athlete who tumbles 1-2 hour a week could keep pace or par with an athlete who participates 4-6 hours a week, regardless of what they are working on. If the tumbling is being taught with strong technique, the athlete who tumbles 4-6 hours a week simply mastering what they already are able to do, strengthens and creates a better “canvas” if you will of fundamentals for learning. These athletes will learn new skills in what seems minutes and moments. Another athlete who goes to tumbling classes with the mindset “I need to learn my XYZ” will generally spend countless hours being spotted on repetitive skills with little progress where they would spend their time much better strengthening the skills they just learned over the past few months.
Perception and state of mind is a huge factor into learning tumbling! It’s a lot easier to learn when someone is a blank canvas. Not a tunnel visioned goal seeker.
Perception example>> Athlete A and Athlete B walk into the gym the same day. They are the same age and ability level. Athlete A comes in wanting to “learn how to tumble”. Athlete B comes in wanting to “get a backhandspring before August 8th for high school tryouts.” The vast majority of the time, Athlete A excels at a much faster rate because they put effort into every concept being learned. Where Athlete B generally says “why am I doing these dumb handstands, I need a backhandspring”.
Here are a few things that are said and the basic interpretation that tumbling coaches hear.
I’ve been working on a tuck for 2 years This means.. you probably weren’t ready to work on it in the first place. How are your basic skills?
I learned my full the first day at this other gym.. This means.. Someone previously taught them pretty well, and the new gym just told them to “do it”, they did, it was good (hopefully). Hopefully the form was as good as if they had finished it with the first coach.
I know my handsprings aren’t really strong but I want to be challenged more This means.. I’m not patient enough to want strong tumbling, and I’d rather take shortcuts and compromise my tumbling future by putting myself in a situation that makes me break form more often.
My child needs to be spotted more This means.. I think my daughter gets more out of tumbling by being spotted because I see her flipping and assume that it is the best way to do it. I feel like she is making progress even though she is probably no closer to learning/mastering the skill than the day before. Keep in mind that the hundreds of years gymnastics coaches trial and error has determined that spotting regularly and often is not the best way). Although I think there is room for spotting in modern tumbling coaching, it is few and far between. Spotting skills repetitively only teaches kids how to do skills spotted with a coach. If a coach spots a kid for long durations of time without incorporating drills/skills/concepts that help the athlete make progress on strengthening the fundamentals for a skill, something is probably wrong.
How is my child going to learn a tuck if all she does all day is backhandsprings and other easy things all practice This means.. I don’t realize that the constant correcting and fixing of form for my fundamental skills (including backhandsprings) are the key piece in learning new skills (i.e.. tucks). Most parents haven’t seen and/or can’t distinguish the quality of ones tumbling. The length of a backhandspring, head placement, body positioning, sitting angles, arm placement, rebound/punch and proper finishes.
If anyone has any questions or would like to relate something directly to their athlete, we can set up an appointment. Email the gym!