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Raizen

Question on the condioning of tumblers

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Raizen

This question is primarily directed towards Ido or Mr. Sommer, as by my understanding you're both actual gymnastic coachs, however anyone with knowledge on the subject feel free to post. At any rate I was wondering how you prepare your tumblers physically. From what I understand gymnastics tumbling is comprised of flips, handsprings, and aerial variations(?), and as such the athletes should possess titanium ankles and knees, and have an extremely high vertical leap to get high for advanced skills such as double backtucks, high levels of core strength to maintain a tight body in twists and flips, and a lot of strength in the shoulders to aid in blocking for twists, as well as for landing on their hands out of high acrobatics. I was hoping someone could shed some light on how they are conditioned.

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Guest Ido Portal

Good question.

I will point a couple of issues, some will surprise you...

1. Ankle preparation - for sure, this is an issue. Most tumblers work dorsiflexion and plantarflexion, but forget to work eversion and inversion. Most ankle sprains are caused not by dorsi/plantar flexion but in the rotation of the foot.

2. Most people know the fact that the calves only contribute 5% to a vertical jump. It is true, but it is not true when talking about REBOUNDS which are a lot more common than a vertical jump in gymnastics. This is why you often see spectacular heights in gymnastics competition even though you cant find one decent posterior chain development in the room.... (just kidding, but it is rare...)

3. Gymnasts do not have good vertical jumps usualy. It is a misconception. Compare them to athletes from other strength/speed sports - Olifters, Sprinters, Football players, Hockey, etc... They are not up there. I've met an old ex soviet gymnastics coach that works around here, and he told me that in his time, due to a much less springy floor (the 50's) the gymnasts used to have good vertical jumps. He said with pride that his VJ was 85 cm. (33 inch) That is not impressive at all, and this was when gymnasts had a lot better VJs. Also, did you notice that gymnasts dont have the highest standing backflips? Look at some freestyle acrobats that do classical weightlifting for their lower body, they jump much higher. Now when rebounding is the subject, this is were gymnasts will rip them apart.

4. The strength specific for blocking and holding twists or flipping is built with the progression of skills. You do not develop the ability to double twist in a day. You perform halfs, fulls, one and a half, etc.. and this ability improves. Working it from a strength and conditioning perspective is helpfull, but there is nothing like the real thing performed for reps and sets. Try this - (we do it regulary) perform 50 reps of a standing backflip without grabbing the shins, in sets of 3-5 reps. Wait 48 hours, fall out of bed, crawl to your PC, log into the forum and post what you are experiencing. Now this is an abdomen workout that will improve your flips. No other movement will reproduce the same sport specific results as this one. One time a female student of mine performed 130 backflips in under 30 min. She played checkers in her house for the rest of the week, her abdomen was so sore, she couldnt get out of bed.

5. Your physical preparation, in my opinion, should not only improve your tumbling skills but mainly allow you to train the specific skills of tumbling without hurting yourself, and in large enough volume. This is very improtant and often neglected.

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Raizen

Very interesting points, especially the information about rebounding vs. vertical leap. So by my understanding if one wanted to specifically improve their rebounding ability to be able to perform rapid combinations of acrobatic skills (i.e- 5 gainerfulls in rapid succession), they should train their calves and shins, despite the fact that these muscles don't actually contribute much to the vertical leap itself? If that is the case (and correct me if it is not), could you suggest some exercises to improve rebounding?

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Martin Schulz

Ido,

I am not kidding. You cannot imagine the magnitude of how much this piece of information helped me. It cleared my head and those awful mind games I had about training for what I want more than anything else in my life right now.

Thank you very much.

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Sailor Venus

Reading Cheerleading: Conditioning for Back Handspring and Tumbling Success by Rik Feeney has helped me. The obvious downside of this book is too basic. In my opinion the book is more aimed at young girls with frail bodies whose aim is to develop strength of a common acrobatic cheerleader.

I have a question: if gymnasts don't jump high, how do they do back and front tucks despite jumping low height? Surely they have little time to rotate fully and open their legs out to land.

One of my goals is to have big vertical jumps so I have more time in the air to rotate and open out the legs to land.

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Joshua Slocum
Reading Cheerleading: Conditioning for Back Handspring and Tumbling Success by Rik Feeney has helped me. The obvious downside of this book is too basic. In my opinion the book is more aimed at young girls with frail bodies whose aim is to develop strength of a common acrobatic cheerleader.

I have a question: if gymnasts don't jump high, how do they do back and front tucks despite jumping low height? Surely they have little time to rotate fully and open their legs out to land.

This is a video of me doing a Russian-set front tuck. You'll notice that I don't use much vertical jump. I'm able to perform the movement because I have a tight tuck, and I have a good set that initiates a lot of rotation.

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Blairbob

Getting height in tumbling is more about being reactive to force (think plyometrics) and tight. Besides the floors being sprung. Some cheer comps use sprung floors nowadays and some cheerleaders train on sprung floors or at least foam rolls or panel mats.

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yuri marmerstein

Tumbling is a lot of technique, and like a lot of other things the better the technique the less strength it takes. Most tumblers aren't very strong nor can they jump high. They do what they do because they know how to manipulate their momentum and their center of gravity in regards to it.

I do a lot of extra wrist, ankle, knee and shoulder prep for the tumblers I teach but the conditioning that most coaches have their tumblers do consists of basically V-ups and pushups. The real conditioning they get is from repetition of their tumbling skills. This works well for the naturally talented kids but leave a lot of nagging injuries for everyone else using this method.

I like to build a strength and power base prior to heavy skill repetition.

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Cole Dano
I like to build a strength and power base prior to heavy skill repetition.

That mirrors Coach Sommer's philosophy.

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yuri marmerstein

I forgot about frog jumps and calf raises also, those are quite common

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