Know The Score Sheet – Tumbling
One of the biggest parent melt-downs I ever encountered as an all star coach/director was the year we started the season with absolutely no standing tumbling in our routine. Okay, before you write me off as complete moron for making such an oversight, give me a second to explain. First, I was not actively involved in the coaching of this particular team in the program (although that changed after the first competition). Second, we hired outside choreographers who actually did put standing tumbling in the routine and the coach subsequently took it out of the routine. So in my defense, I was as surprised as the judges when the team did not throw any standing tumbling.
The score sheet at our first competition had 2 parts for the tumbling score; 10 points for running tumbling and 10 points for standing tumbling. This team had quite a mix of tumbling. There were probably around 10 advanced tumblers with fulls or better. Half the team had standing tucks. All but 2 or 3 at the most had at least standing handsprings. We also had copious amounts of running tumbling in the routine. So what wound up happening was we scored in the 9 range for running tumbling and a big donut (zero) for standing tumbling. This imbalance in our choreography (not to mention our score sheet) killed us in our placement, dropping us behind several teams we should have finished better than.
There are a number of things that should have prevented us from having a routine without and standing tumbling (like common sense), but when it comes down to it, what would have definitely saved the day would have been us knowing our score sheet!
That episode was probably a decade ago, but as a judge, I still see lots of teams making the same mistake, as well as others, related to not playing to the score sheet. Here are a few things you need to look out for when incorporating tumbling in your routine.
What tumbling skills are level appropriate for the division you are competing in. This one tends to be in the forefront of most coaches minds as early as tryouts. I have often heard coaches saying things like, “All the standing tucks will be on our Level 5 team and everyone else will go on the Level 3 team.” So most coaches are already aware of this concept. However, a lot of coaches don’t realize that a lot of score sheets give you no points for doing any skills that are available to the level below you. In other words, a Level 4 team can throw 1,000 standing handsprings and get zero points because standing handsprings are legal in Level 3. All of those handsprings do nothing to add to your score so you shouldn’t waste the time or energy.
Another important thing to know is what percentage of your team needs to perform your skills to max out your score. Most events spell it all out for you. For instance, they might say 75% of your team has to perform a skill to be in the high range for a tumbling category. A simple example under that guideline would be a Level 3 team with 20 cheerleaders that has 15 of them throwing round off handspring tucks. That trick is not allowed in Level 2 so it is level appropriate. 15 is 75% of 20, so they should score in the high range, unless execution of some other variable reduces the score. Here is a key point. Most companies do not care if 15 cheerleaders in the example above are 15 DIFFERENT cheerleaders. That’s right. Silly as it sounds, a team of 20 could have 1 cheerleader do the same pass 15 times and it would count at most events as 75% of the team.
I already talked about what happens if running and standing tumbling are separate numbers on the score sheet. But you also have to know what is the definition of each. That is especially true for lower Level teams. For instance, is a standing roundoff running or standing? If you take 2 steps backwards and throw a standing full, is that running or standing? Check with your event provider. They should have a glossary that includes definitions of both running and standing tumbling.
Make sure you know how tumbling connected to a jump is treated. Some score sheets give you credit to both your tumbling and jump score for such combinations. Some only give you the credit towards your jump score. Some score sheets require tumbling connected to a jump to max out the JUMP score. Make sure you know about this or you could be giving away points.
Finally, make sure you know the legalities and penalties related to tumbling for an event. Can you land a skill on the white line around the floor or do you have to land inside the line? What if you land inside and then step back past it? Can you start your run on our outside of the line? How many points is deducted for a hand down? How about a knee? If a skill lands on the knees does it count as a completed skill towards the 75% (or whatever % they ask for) to max out your score?
Tumbling is one of the hardest aspects of cheerleading so make sure you are using yours as efficiently as possible to rack up points on your scoresheet.