by Andrea McBride
Many times, athletes will progress their abilities in certain skills only to regress later and become frustrated not being able to fix it. Often, it’s because basic, fundamental drills are being skipped in order to get straight to the more difficult and challenging skills at practice.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that even world class athletes warm up with their most basic skills at practice. They do this because they know those are the foundation for their entire set of abilities. So while handstand hops or cradle timers may not seem like a priority to you, they’re absolutely imperative to keeping you and your teammates at the top of your game.
Need some ideas to make practicing your fundamentals fun? Here is a list of things you can do alone or with your team to reinforce perfection of those basic skills every week.
Turn on your favorite 8 count mix and do sets of motions, kicks, v-ups, T-jumps, and jumps. Build up to triple jumps and jump variations. It only takes 2 1/2 minutes so this is a quick and easy way to get that jump workout in at the beginning of every practice.
Kenny Feeley and his company Spring Tumbling developed an excellent stunt warm up that has proven to be a must for ALL teams at any level. You can look up the F.A.S.T. system online but it is set to counts and starts with load ins and finishes with more advanced skills. It’s a build up from beginner to advanced basics though and really strengthens your muscle memory and helps train correct technique. It only takes 5 minutes and it’s so much fun!
Hot Tip🔥: Want to add to the challenge? Rotate flyers in each stunt group and do F.A.S.T. with each group. This will improve everyone’s overall technique and ability to work with different people on the team.
Turn on some music and add “Skill Lines” to your tumbling warm up. Before you get into the heavy duty stuff, start with some basics. Do 5 variations of handstands down a strip of floor. Then do 5 variations of cartwheels, 5 variations of round offs, 5 tumbling drills/skills, 5 backward tumbling skills.
If you’re already doing these, make it a game and see which teammate can hold their handstand the longest. Or have a handstand race to see who can walk on their hands the longest/farthest/fastest. Resist the urge to skip your basic tumbling skills. Especially handstands! They are THE building block of ALL tumbling skills.
Keep in mind that as you are progressing through levels you’re also progressing through life so your body is changing and growing. You’ll have to be able to adapt many things over time to keep your tumbling up. Your running stride may change. Your hurdle length will change. Your shoulders may get tighter, changing your flexibility in your upper body. Even the smallest change in your physique can throw off your tumbling if you aren’t constantly reinforcing your basic skills.
So get out a whiteboard and your most colorful dry erase markers and map out your basic skills plan. Prop it up in a prominent spot and follow it weekly! Your body will thank you for it.