Home Page
About us
Find a certified coach in your area
Mailing list

Fear Is Not Bad


My 14 year old daughter has been tumbling since she was 7. She saw a boy tumble in someone's yard and got hurt and now is scared. She is a good tumbler and I thought when cheerleading started back it would encourage her to want to do it, but she still has the fear. Is there anyway of helping her to over come this fear or should I just not say anything about it and let her handle it on her own?


Please NOTE: It is PEFECTLY NORMAL AND HEALTHY to feel a MOMENT of fear you person springs backwards onto your hands!

Think about it. You're going BACKWARDS so you can't see where you're going. So you're JUMPING BLINDLY! As if that's not enough, you're goal is to LAND on your hands (not your head!) Literally, you're diving very quickly INTO THE FLOOR!!! Yikes!! Ok. Now, for the REAL clincher, to perform the skill safely, you'll need to KEEP MOVING QUICKLY so you land on your feet again.

Then, you must perform ALL that elegantly, beautifully & in such a way so as to allow you to KEEP moving into additional tumbling skills like another back-handspring, or back-tuck. Anyway you look at it, the back-handspring requires VERY careful preparation and LOTS of practice.Now, to compound all that... if you make a mistake, it's quite possible to severely injure yourself.

So all you tumblers out there that are feeling FEAR, congratulate yourself.It means your brain is alert and your instincts are working correctly. HOWEVER, your fear should not STOP you from tumbling. It should GUIDE you to SEEK more knowledge and experience. Let the fear INSPIRE you to BE WISE and use COMMON SENSE. Fear should ALERT you to OBSERVE the risks you are incurring and to discern effective ways to PROTECT YOURSELF.

With enough knowledge about HOW TO DO a safe, strong and beautiful back-handspring you should easily FACE your fear with COURAGE. If you are armed with sufficient UNDERSTANDING about proper habits of motion, positions, timing, coordination and abundant muscular STRENGTH, you'll move PAST your fears into confidence.


Thanks for writing Tina,

It is a scary thing to see some one badly hurt, whether in the gym, or outside. Any athletic activity has the potential for severe injury. As fun as gymnastics:tumbling can be, it comes with REAL risks that must be RECOGNIZED and HONORED by participants. The human body DOES have physical limitations. An important part of growing up is learning to recognize those limits with as little damage as possible.

Because of its rich diversity of motions & dynamics gymnastics:tumbling CAN be an excellent choice of activities for SAFELY learning those limits.

Have Coach Wayne come
to YOUR gym!!!


  • performance tumbling for students
  • instructor training for staff
To find out more


Gymnastic: tumbling is an integral part of human culture. Kids have always, and will always, perform acrobatic activities in the gym, in the house, in the yard, on grass, on concrete, everywhere. With all the cheerleaders on football fields, acrobats on stage, martial artist in the studio and untold millions of us playing in the yard & the house only a small fraction of us have received proper instructions for safe skill execution.

And, unfortunately, to an unaware tumbler, what SEEMS like an "improvement" can actually be a disastrous error. For example, running FASTER is NOT the way to improve a round-off, except for specific rare instances with highly experienced tumblers. Because it feels more dynamic & thrilling, it may feel NATURAL to do many things like RUNNING FASTER into tumbling skills. With each increase in SPEED and POWER, all aspects of a skill become exaggerated. That means minor errors become MAJOR errors. So, unless the body is well prepared, coordinated, attuned, & the skill is truly WELL FORMED, such seemingly natural changes like "running faster" can DRAMATICALLY INCREASE the risk of severe injury. The problem is, many experienced instructors will wrongly encourage students to run faster into tumbling skills. It's a shame.

One of my primary motivations for making the "BETTER BACK-HANDSPRINGS" video was to insure that the fundamental elements of WELL-FORMED tumbling activities are available to ANYONE who can watch TV. Simple lessons (that are NOT, however, generally known) can GREATLY enhance safety and provide tumblers with a STRONG CONFIDENCE in their abilities.

For example, here is one of those SECRETS:Encourage tumblers to HABITUALLY EXTEND their arms, close together, straight up above the head ... before, during AND after EVERY handstand, cartwheel, walkover and handspring. This position of holding the arms close together (NARROW) reduces the chance of injuries to the wrists when supporting the body. Arms held straight OVER HEAD (rather than down by the sides or straight out in front) provides MAXIMUM protection to the head and neck.

By CREATING the HABIT of these positions the body will MOST LIKELY react to a new situation (such as a mat slipping, a faster run, or some outside interference) by returning to that position, thus protecting the head/neck and allowing for avoidance of injury. Importantly, this arm position provides for the most beautiful and most powerful tumbling skills. It is an element of WELL-FORMED tumbling.

There are MANY other "secrets" for WELL-FORMED tumbling. The MORE of these that a tumbler practices, the more courageous (i.e.: overcoming fears) s/he will FEEL because they LEAD and BUILD to reliably safe, beautiful and powerful skill execution.

I hope this helps you decide how to best guide your daughter's decision. Thank you for writing!


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.



TumblingTIPS Index

with Coach Wayne

Our CoachWayne2GO program has been very successful. We are now hiring instructors. If you are interested in teaching gymnastics and tumbling for cheerleading click here for more information about our coaching jobs and internship opportunities.

printer friendly


TumblingTIPS Index