Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Try outs Are Here!!!

Try outs have started and with clinic week comes a whirlwind of emotions.  It is totally normal to be excited, nervous, happy, scared, confident, flustered, over-whelmed, hopeful and exhausted all at the same time.

A few things that seem to help cheerleader hopefuls through this stressful time:

1- Eat and drink more thank you think you need to, even if you are not hungry.  Make sure you have plenty of good (for you) snacks like bananas, almonds and other healthy treats that are easy and quick to eat.  Also drink TONS of fluids, preferably liquids that contain lots of electrolytes like coconut water.

2- Get plenty of sleep.  Your brain and body will work much better if you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.   I know it might be hard to do on top of the clinic hours and homework, but I promise the good sleep will definitely help keep you on top of your game!

3- Don't over do it.  It is hard not to practice every second you can before the actual try out but remember that you can easily over do it.  Practice enough to feel confident and prepped, but not run down and exhausted.

4- SMILE AND HAVE FUN!!!  Remember through all the stress that you are trying out for fun.  Smile and show off.  Do your best and you will always have an accomplishment to feel proud of.

Good Luck and Happy Tumbling!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sometimes Not Tumbling Makes You A Better Tumbler!

This is the time of year when Dance and Cheer Tumblers spend more and more time in the gym trying to perfect and get super confident in that one skill they want for try outs or recital.  Many students are in the gym 3-5 times per week at this point, which is awesome because the repetition and consistency is the biggest key for confidence and muscle memory.  However, there comes a point when you are simply doing too much.  School tends to be a bear this time of year and with other spring sports in full swing, it is no wonder that athletes start wearing down and getting overloaded.

Proper sleep (and no, going to bed at 2am and sleeping until 10am during a sleep over does not count!), nutrition (including vitamins and extra water during workout days) and down time are just as important to your tumbling success as the actual tumbling practice.  How can you expect have your mental and physical 'A' game going in the gym if you are spreading yourself too thin?

Especially during the weeks right before try outs, it is important to listen to your body and give yourself a day off if you need it.  Recharging for a day may feel like you are wasting precious practice time, but I guarantee that you will come back into the gym after a day off feeling stronger, happier and more confident in your skills.

Happy Tumbling!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flips are FUN!

It's true and anyone who has done one will say the same.  What they might not tell you is that they can be super scary too! 

Fear is a huge part of our sport.  On top of the physical aspects of tumbling (strength, flexibility, spatial awareness, timing, etc) all tumblers must also face the mental side.  Everyone is different and for some the fear may always be there in the wings, it may not crop up until after an injury or it might just show up one day out of the blue for no reason.  At one point or another, fear hits all tumblers.

Since we know the fear is "out there", our best defenses are proper technique and mental training.  Once you've been taught how to correctly throw a skill, a positive attitude and confidence can go a long way to getting over the ickiness of actually throwing your new skill on your own.

Tonight at 7:30pm (7pm parent meeting beforehand) is our first sports psychology class with Sara Robinson, MA ( with the workshop focusing on how to stay calm and relaxed.  Sara will help you understand how to notice when you're nervous and have skills to be mentally and physically calm, prepared, and ready to throw your skills when needed.

See you then!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why are we doing handstands (again)?!

I am asked this question all the time.  Why, if I want to learn a back handspring, do I need to do SO  many handstands?   To help answer this question, I want to share part of an article written this month by Diablo's team head coach, Gary Buckmann:

"Why the basics you ask? The answer is simple, because they work! The step by step lead-up drills allows the girls to develop an awareness and knowledge of the skills they are trying to learn. Through the progressions the girls get the why, the how come and the what for to understand all their skills completely. Along with the awareness and knowledge the basics are progressive. Meaning that learning a skill correctly allows the student to progress to a higher level of skill training.  The awareness and knowledge aspect of the basics are even more exciting. Through the combination of understanding the skill mentally and the awareness of the feeling in the athlete’s body, eliminates fear. An important part of basic training is getting feedback from the girls after they have performed a skill. The student will know exactly what she is suppose to do in her mind, but can’t feel it in her body. Without both mental and physical awareness the student will not be able to make corrections to learn the skill. This is where the fear factor comes in to play. A person who doesn’t understand something is more likely to be afraid of it. Through all the step by step lead-up drills, the girls will gain a complete understanding of all the skills they will have to learn. There is no timetable to learning, but the basics make learning progressive and safe."

I think that non-gymnast athletes (cheerleaders, dancers, snowboarders) have it harder than gymnasts to some degree.  With gymnastics, we already incorporate all of the basics into our programs.  As a gymnast, you would never start a back handspring without first being able to do a back walkover.  Other athletes do not have that luxury, as they are often thrown into tumbling as a beginner needing to get advanced skills.  I do my best to create a tumbling program that takes into consideration the need for both upper levels skills at a faster pace than normal while also keeping the focus on safety and technique.  With that in mind, here are some home exercises students can do at home to to keep up the consistency and help speed progress along in the gym:

A-frame push ups- Make an 'A' shape hands and feet on the floor, keeping ears in between your arms bend your elbows out the sides and until the top of your head lightly taps the floor and then push back up.   2 sets of 10 going at least 1/2 way down 
Bridges- Push up and without moving your feet, look at your fingertips and push your legs as straight as they will go.  You should feel an uncomfortable, but not painful stretch in your chest/shoulders.  Hold for 20 seconds, repeat x2 
Wall Sits- 3x 60 with your hamstrings parallel to the floor with knees over your ankles, back, shoulders and arms flat against the wall.  For an extra challenge raise your heels off the floor!
Wall Handstands- 3 x 60 seconds with hollow body, shoulders to ears and tight tummy.
Plank holds- Hollow body, all leg muscles engaged (pretend to squeeze a ball between your thighs) shoulders over hands- 3 x 30 seconds
Froggy Jumps- start in squat position, jump straight up into the air with hands reaching to the sky, legs straight, toes pointed and back to start- 30
Candlestick roll to tuck jump- Start in standing position, roll down to back on the floor, legs straight up in to the air (candlestick) and then roll back up to standing (no hands to stand up) and immediately do tuck jump.  Repeat 15 times. 
Happy Tumbling!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How long will it take me to get my skill?

How long will it take me to get my (fill in the blank)? This is probably the question I am asked the most and unfortunately, is the hardest question to answer!

Did you know that it takes between 300-500 perfect repetitions before you've created the muscle memory to perform a physical task without thinking about it?  In addition, it can take up to 10 times that amount to perfect a skill that you've previously done incorrectly.  That is a lot of round-offs, aerials, back handsprings and tucks!

This is why some tumblers will perform a skill perfectly for the first time only to "lose it" the following practice.  This is common and, of course, super frustrating because you feel like once you've done it, you should be able to keep doing it.  The key at this stage in the game is to keep practicing and focusing on the progress that has been made instead of what is not yet perfected.   A positive attitude and determination are what will eventually tip the scales.  How you feel about your efforts has a huge impact on your performance.  Your subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between what is real and what is imagined.  If you believe in yourself and can see yourself performing your skill, you are on your way to actually doing it.  When your subconscious mind is pulling in the right direction, you are going to succeed. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

Tumbling Tricks & Tips' Debut Post


As my students and parents already know, I send out a newsletter style email roughly 8 times per year.  These emails usually contain upcoming info and important dates but I've often wanted to add extra bits that would be good for tumblers and parents to know...

I hope this will be a place for my students and parents to get information that will be beneficial for both the physical and mental aspects of tumbling.  I would love to hear your suggestions on topics! 

Happy Tumbling,