Moving back tucks
Dear Coach Wayne, I have been trampolining for about a year now and I have mastered the tuckback. I have no previous gymnastics training, but I would like to learn how to do a standing tuckback from the floor. I can do one on the trampoline without using a bounce, but I cannot get enough height when I try it off the floor. What excersises can I do in the gym or at home to build up my leg muscles? I have read your advice on the "gym jump" and I am currently doing 25 of those a day.
Also, when I try the standing tuckback, I travel backwards far too much. I need to convert this to height but I can’t change it. I train alone because there is no coach to spot me.
Be very careful working on the trampoline. You should ALWAYS have some one else with you, at least as an observer. NEVER flip alone.
Learning to control where you land in the tuck is important. I suggest that you make cross-hatch marks (like a tic-tac-toe board) in the center of the trampoline bed.
Each of the nine squares should be large enough to put BOTH your feet into. You can draw the marks with chalk, paint them, use a flexible adhesive tape or sew a cloth tape onto the bed of the tramp. Practice flipping from any ONE square into any OTHER square.
For example, start in square #5 and land in square #8. Or start in square #7 and land in square #3. You should ALWAYS be facing the same direction at the beginning and the end of each flip. The easiest thing to do is to practice jumping WITHOUT the flip. But use the SAME swing, set and power intensity. You'll find that you can LEAN to one direction or the other to change your landing position AND that by setting your arms in slightly different positions at the top of the jump you'll be able to modify the direction your flip travels. Even a TINY change in the correct direction is an achievement.
Start with 1" improvement, then try to get a 1/2 of one foot to land where you want it, then try a whole foot. Pretty soon (500 reps?) you'll have great control of your travel. This is illustrated in my "Benchmarks of Excellence" e-book.
To get yourself ready for tucks on the ground I recommend that you DEADEN the trampoline bed slightly. Your goal is to make it LESS bouncy. I usually drop a big piece of tumbling-mat ON TOP of the trampoline bed. I don't know what sort of equipment you might be able to use, but in a gymnastics school we have FOLDING mats for tumbling. They are 1.25" thick (firm) rebound foam covered with vinyl. A section of cheer-floor works too.
With the tumbling mat one top of the trampoline you can STILL get SOME bounce but it's MUCH harder to bounce. You'll have to work the jump and the tuck much more agressively. After you've got that mastered add a SECOND mat to deaden the bounce even more. By then, your tuck should be ready to move to the floor.
ALSO... Here are a couple of variations you can work on so that you're more prepared for tucks on the floor:
1) PIKE instead of tuck. Knees remain straight until you land. This, however requires a bit of flexibility in the back of your legs. 2) Modify your timing. Practice delaying the tuck to set it higher and rotate longer in a straight body position, then, open OUT of the tuck quickly. In this way you ride the jump longer... Tuck more agressively (rotating faster) and kick-out of the tuck early. This can be seen in the E-book "Back Tuck Progression."
Coach Wayne is the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos and books have been used by students and instructors world wide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for in-gym instructor training and performance tumbling clinics throughout the year. For booking information, coaches/owners should call 912.398.8082. Students and parents should request coaches/owners to contact Coach Wayne.