Progressions

Something every cheerleader, coach and judge understands is that you have to follow progressions.  You can not learn a double down until you have a perfect cradle.  You can not throw you standing full until you have your standing tuck.  Everyone knows this.  Everyone accepts this.  And yet, very few of us really, truly live by this.  I know I am guilty as well.  Rather than make my stunt group go through 100 repetitions of halves and fulls to get consistent and perfect, I get bored and give into temptation and start teaching them 360’s.  Why do this when I know it is wrong?  I think we can get the answer by taking a look at society.

We live in a culture of impatience.  We seek immediate gratification.  People want their first car to be a Lexus and will borrow a small fortune today to have one when they should probably pay cash for a used Honda, drive it till they’ve saved some money, and then buy the car of their dreams.  It’s the same thing with tumbling.  As soon as people get their back handspring they want to move on to the tuck.  They don’t want to spend the weeks, months and/or years it takes to make it perfect.  They may actually move on to a back tuck, but without having a solid backhandspring, they will never be consistent tumbling out of a handspring.  And even if they can throw a tuck out of their undercutted bank handspring, they are always going to be a half count off from everyone else, hurting the synchronization.  And that lack of consistency will one day lead to a mental block, and we all know how terrible those are.

If you look around and watch the cheerleaders with beautiful, perfect tumbling, you will probably notice that they have been working on their skills for a long, long time.  Many of them were gymnasts.  In gymnastics, the highest level athletes STILL spend time working on things as simple as a hand stand.  The same is true for athletes in professional sports.  NBA super stars never quit practicing free throws.  The best baseball players spend hours in the batting cage and even hitting a ball off a tee.  Why do we do things differently in cheerleading?

The fact is that it is our nature to be impatient.  Luckily, the solution to this problem is the simplest thing in the world.  We just have to dedicate time in every practice to work on basics.  With stunts, this is more of a coaching issue than anything.  When it comes to tumbling, it is more on the athlete.  You have to get in the gym or the grass or where ever you can safely practice and keep doing your back handsprings until you can throw them connected across the floor, gaining speed along the way.  And then you have to do them some more, and some more.  You have to get off of the trampoline.  You have to keep your shoes on.  There is no short cut and no easy way.  But trust me when I say it will be worth it.

Following progressions will provide a ton of benefits.  For one, you need to have that strong foundation in your skills in order to have a higher maximum potential.  In other words, without a great round off, you will never throw a full.  Following progressions will cause you to have better conditioning.  Instead of doing 20 tucks with a spot, you will do 100 handsprings on your own.  That is much better conditioning.  And a big one is that following progressions will give you real confidence in your skills when it comes time to perform them in a game or at competition.  Remember that cheerleading is really all about performing.  If you aren’t confident, it will show, and your performance will suffer.

Remember that nothing in life that is worth while comes without putting in the work.  Follow your progressions in all of your pursuits, academic, professionally, financially, socially, and of course, in cheerleading, and you will have the solid foundation it takes to go as far as you want to go.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Stunting, Tumbling

4 Comments on “Progressions”


  1. first off, what an amazing blog! I love love love it. I love the stories from your cheerleadinglife, I love the posts about technique. I’ve been spending almost two hours just reading your archive and will probably spend at least another one before I start working on my saturday to-do list.
    Just a question, what do you mean with half, full and 360? To me a half is a 180 into a elevator/extension/lib, a full is a 360 into an elevator/extension/lib. So saying you sometimes start working on a 360 before they can do a full confuses me 🙂
    And btw, haven’t we all done that? I tend to get bored as an athlete and want to rush my skills, just as I sometimes get bored as a coach and give in to rushing the teams skills. Even though I know it’s always a bad idea the temptation is too much for me.

  2. Courtney Says:

    I think by half he means just straight up to elevator / prep which is level 1 and a full as in an extension just straight up which is level 2 and by 360s he means full twist ups to prep which is level 3 or extension which I think is level 4? where the flyer does a full twist from sponge / load in / re load / smush / chicken. 🙂

  3. Anonimus athlete. Says:

    I wish you could come and tell my coach and my team all that and make them understand because allthough I am not a coach and have had no training and there are two girls that are qualified to be assistant coaches I feel like I am the only one out of everyone including my coach that understands the importantance of progression. The same practice I landed flat on my face in a round off back hand spring she had me doing back tucks, a girl without walkovers is attempting to get front and back hand springs, a girl was just begining to learn forwards walkovers with my coach and was at the point where she couldn’t have attempted it without a spot yet my coach said ‘I bet you could get front hand springs.’ I could go on an on about the cracks in our coaching and not just with tumbling and progression but I will be here ranting forever lol and I feel awful saying this I mean I love my team and coach and I think my coach just needs help.

    But basically the situations I described do you agree with me that that’s just asking for mental blocks? And speaking of mental blocks all that happens and then she wonders why you are scared to throw the skill, she will allow bad technique whilst verbally instructing you of the correct way to do it and completly ignoring the bhs barrel she should be using and any other drills she only spots you after landing on your face then makes you do it on your own again.


    • I’m glad that you’re keeping a positive attitude about a less than perfect situation. WIthout knowing all of the circumstances, it would be hard for me to give you advice. However, it sounds like you have legitimate concerns. I suggest you talk about them with your coach outside of practice. A good coach is happy to hear concerns at the appropriate time when they are presented rationally.


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