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Controlling Your Round-Off


I can do a standing backtuck just fine and it is really high but I can't do a back-handspring back-tuck because my back-handspring is too high and I don't have the rebound for a back-tuck. How can I get my round-off back-handspring lower and do a backtuck?

Russ has a technical problem with his tumbling that is quite common, and the solution is subtle. He can't get a powerful rebound jump out of his handspring because it is too high. Handsprings should be long and low.

If the handspring is to high (what I call "tumbling ABOVE" the mats") ...when the final rebound jump comes along it is impossible to get a good solid punch with your feet. Instead, the round-off and handspring must be lowered... (tumbling INTO the mat).


Well, in a tumbling series such as the "Round-off Back-handspring, Back-tuck" each skill builds upon the one before it. An error in an early skill will often be magnified in the later skills.

So, we'll look to the very BEGINNING of the series for the SOLUTION. In the problem that Russ is describing the error is probably in the very FIRST step of his Round-off... the "Lunge-step".

There are many ways to control the LUNGE-STEP. Russ will probably find that he can adjust the HEIGHT of his handspring by changing the SPACING between his feet... in his lunge-step. By stepping LONGER, he'll lower his center of gravity throughout the tumbling series and be able to punch powerfully into the mat during the rebound... and get a SKY-HIGH tucked salto.

Subtle changes in skills, such as the foot placement (or hand placement) can be very insightful. Precision is important. The next time you are practicing your Round-off you will learn a GREAT DEAL about some of the things you can do to change it if you'll try this:

1. SLOW DOWN your round-off - Imagine you're performing everything in ULTRA-slow motion. This gives you time to think through and RECOGNIZE each tiny change that you are trying. Make a move... then pause... then move again.. then pause.. then move again.. then pause again.. continue that pattern throughout the ENTIRE skill.

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2. DECIDE WHAT RESULTS YOU WANT- In this case, the RESULT you WANT is a LONGER-LOWER rebound. THAT is the END RESULT you will be paying attention to.

3. PRACTICE ONE CHANGE at a time- In this case.. you'll be changing ONLY the distance between the TWO feet, as you LUNGE-STEP into your round-off. You can LITERALLY measure the distance from the TOE of your back foot, to the HEEL of your front foot. One time make the distance between your toe and heel be THREE inches.. the next time make it 24 inches. Play and explore!

4. OBSERVE the new RESULTS CAREFULLY- Practice with your feet VERY close to each other... and, as you continue the skill, observe how it forces changes in your hand placement...how high your hips are from the floor... how easy or difficult it is to turn/twist & maintain your balance. Each change YOU make will cause a different result. LEARN what those results are! Know what to expect.

5. IGNORE the feelings of AWKWARDNESS- Remember the first 10 or 20 times you change from your NORMAL patterns of movement, EVERYTHING may feel WRONG and look GOOFY. So ignore those feelings... this is a time of exploration. Instead of practicing ONLY 10 times and having them ALL feel strange.. practice 200 times!

6. MAINTAIN an attitude of fun/hard-work - It is during this PROCESS of exploration that you will LEARN more about your body and how it works. You want to be safe, and work hard so there is GENUINE progress. You'll be making HUGE efforts. But also, be playful and have fun. Let your creativity shine through while you learn.

7. ADAPT and PERSIST UNTIL you achieve your PLANNED changes- You may find that it takes HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS of repetitions before you achieve the results you decided to achieve. You may have to combine different changes.. in your hands, feet, and head position (for example) before you actually get the result you want. That's OK!

8. CONFIRM the new HABIT- Being occasionally successful is not good enough. You want HABITS of success. Repeat and practice what you've learned UNTIL you naturally and habitually perform it correctly. Can you get it right 10 out of 10 times? Can you get it right when a crowd of people are watching you?

9. REWARD YOURSELF for success- Good job!!!! Treat yourself to something special... praise yourself. Show off your stuff! You did it!!!!!!

10. WRITE ME - Coach@CoachWayne.com and share your success!


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.



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