Everyone has days where their tumbling just isn’t going as planned.
Your back handsprings feel slow and sluggish. Your tucks and layouts are lower than usual. And your fulls and doubles just aren’t twisting fast enough, no matter how hard you try.
So what’s the solution most people default to?
They try even harder!
Now I’m not against trying hard and pushing yourself to the edge. Heck, as a coach I’d love it if every athlete would simply default to “trying harder” when things weren’t working.
But that’s a very primitive way to go about it. To me, a “bad” tumbling day shares more similarities with mental blocks than it does with physical limitations.
Sure you can be sore, tired and have some nagging aches and pains. But I know a good majority of athletes who’ve been in those states and still had a fun, productive tumbling session.
I’ve been in similar situations as well, and below I’m going to share three of my best strategies that you can use to turn a bad tumbling day into something fun and productive.
1. Recognize Your KEY Mistakes
When you really think about it, a bad tumbling day is simply the result of multiple mistakes that end up together in a short period of time.
I mean, when you’re having a good day and only a single thing goes wrong, do you simply assume that your whole day is ruined?
Of course not. You look at it as a mistake that you need to fix.
But sometimes athletes end up making a whole series of mistakes; their round off is crooked, their back handsprings are slow, they get no block during the set, and so on.
And a series of mistakes are more challenging to correct because a tumbling pass only lasts a few seconds. And thinking about five different things can get pretty overwhelming when you’re upside down.
So what should you do?
Start recording all of your passes, and look for two KEY mistakes you’re making (that you don’t usually make.) If you’re unsure, ask for assistance from your coach – they know you better than you think.
A good example would be to look at your round off: is the approach as straight, fast and powerful as it usually is? If not, then it could be throwing off the rest of your tumbling pass. This means fixing the round off can take care of a whole bunch of other errors.
The important thing is to catch the errors, pay attention to them and actively work on fixing them instead of just tossing them aside because you’re “having a bad day.”
Studies have been done where they scanned the brains of people performing technical tasks. What they found was that 0.25 seconds after a mistake was made, those who paid attention to these mistake and recognized it, learned a lot more about what to do, and improved their skillset significantly over those that simply chose to ignore their errors.
2. Put yourself in a no-fail situation
There is nothing quite like the feeling of confidence to uplift your mood. So why not use this while tumbling? Sometimes the root cause of a “bad” tumbling day is overthinking – even if you don’t believe you’re doing so.
So take a mental break, and get back to basic skills that you can do really well. For example, if your fulls are feeling weird, go back to tucks and layouts. Try making marginal improvements such as setting higher for the basic skills, and it will transfer over to your harder skills when you go back to them.
Unless you’re a total beginner, there will always be a basic variation of the skill (or skills) you’re having trouble with. You can also throw drills into the mix that boost your confidence.
Let me share a personal example. A couple years back, for some weird reason, the sets for my doubles were completely off. My back was bent, the arms didn’t go up, my block was… well, non existent. However, my twist was (and always has been) solid. It’s one of my strengths, so that’s what I focused on. I brought out the mini tramp and set up a station where I’d have to do a handstand snapdown to layout double twist.
And you know what? It worked. In fact, I was able to set up the tramp at a distance so that blocking was basically mandatory – it was a no fail situation.
The training session following went better than normal, as I not only managed to get the sets for my doubles back, but I managed a 2.5!
3. Find your LCD Surface
LCD stands for “Lowest Common Denominator.” If you’re one of the 350,000 people that read about my mental block formula, than this term should be familiar to you.
But if not, let me explain: While this is a math term, it’s often used to describe “the most basic” option out of all available options. Something that fits for everyone. In tumbling, I used it to explain the bare minimum surface that you can be competent on.
So as an example, 99% of the population, even if they’re highly unskilled can be pretty competent on a trampoline. Hence making the tramp the LCD surface of choice.
But for a trained tumbler who’s just having a bad day on sprung floor, a LCD surface could be the rod floor, since it offers more bounce. Or maybe the Air Trak. If you’re still not feeling it, there’s always the Tumble Trak.
The important thing to note, is that the surface itself doesn’t matter. Don’t feel bad if you have to drag yourself back to the trampoline. What matters is that you find the one that works for you.
Every Obstacle Is An Opportunity To Grow
Remember, a “bad” tumbling day doesn’t have to be a death sentence to your training. It’s an obstacle that you have to overcome, just like all the others I’m sure you’ve already faced.
And if you follow the three time-tested strategies that I listed above, I can pretty much guarantee that every time you step inside that gym, you’ll tumbling game will improve.
You have the tools, now it’s just a matter of putting in the work.
As always, train hard, eat well, stay fierce!
About The Author
Coach Sahil M is the founder of the ever-famous Facebook page, Addicted To Tumbling, author of The Cheer Diet, a Certified Gymnastics Coach, a former National Champ, and an active Powerlifter with a National Deadlift record under his belt. When he’s not coaching, doing clinics or consulting, Coach Sahil produces articles on his personal Tumbling Blog to help athletes all over the world improve the skills, while giving coaches the tools necessary to help make their teams competition ready. You can reach out to him on twitter (@ATTumbling) or visit his site directly: www.tumblingcoach.com