Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Michael Phelps all have one thing in common, they have mastered their craft. If you want to tumble like Simone Biles or to become any other high caliber athlete, there are 5 key ingredients you will need.
It is no doubt that COVID 19 has changed our lives. It has changed how we go to school, how we see our family and friends, and even how we train. The one thing that separates the greats from the wannabes, is mindset! The greats view this an opportunity, while the wannabes see this as a break. Those who see this as an opportunity to train, also have the discipline to train. Yep, you guessed it DISCIPLINE is our first key ingredient in mastering your craft.
Ingredient #1 Discipline
One of the number one excuses that I hear as a coach is, “I don’t have time to train.” Most level 10 gymnasts who are hoping to become elite level gymnasts are homeschooled. Home school gives athletes the flexibility to train and spend the time required to master their craft. If there is one thing that COVID 19 has done for us all is given us time. With most school systems going to distance-based learning, athletes now have the time and flexibility to practice and work on their craft. If you need a little help on improving your discipline here are 3 things you can do to help.
- Create a Vision Board: With the 2020 cheerleading season-ending abruptly, this is a great time to think about what you want to accomplish in 2021! Create a vision board with images of what you want to accomplish, what your training will look like, and how you will feel when you accomplish your goal. Seeing your vision board every morning will give you the visual motivation you need to get out of bed and start your training.
- Block time to train: Set a time every day that you will stop what you are doing and start to train. Block the time based on when you have the most energy and you are the most motivated. Because I am a morning person the first thing I do in the morning is run 3 to 4 miles a day. This allows me to workout instead of providing excuses for why I can’t exercise. Set the best time that works for you!
- Form Habits: Becoming disciplined takes practice. One habit that is important NOT to form is MULTITASKING. Most self-help books will tell you that multitasking leads to lower performance. Bestseller Toddy Duncan writes, “learning the 5-minute rule is a must.” The 5-minute rule means you work for 55 minutes and take 5 minutes to evaluate your productivity.
Now that you are disciplined, it is time to focus on the training and the second key ingredient which is building your SSF
Ingredient #2 Focus on your SSF:
SSF stands for Strength, Speed, and Flexibility. It is impossible to master your craft if you don’t have the strength, speed, and flexibility it requires.
Strength: Because cheerleading and tumbling is a full-body workout, it is important that you train your whole body. By focusing on key areas like your legs, core, back, shoulders, and arms, you will make sure you have the strength required for that double full. Click here for a website that has some great plyometric exercises to help get you on your way.
Speed: Have you ever wondered how something so heavy like a plain can fly? The answer is simple, speed! Tumbling is an explosive movement that requires speed to give you the height required for high level tumbling skills. By performing some basic cone drills you can develop the speed required to make you fly. Click here for some examples of some basic cone drill.
Flexibility: Flexibility helps to increase an athlete’s range of motion. Without the correct range of motion, it will be hard to perform certain skills. While hip, back, leg, and shoulder flexibility are key to becoming a great cheerleader, shoulder flexibility is important to provide the speed and power required for a strong back handspring. Without proper shoulder flexibility, you will not have the range of motion needed to become a power tumbler. Click here for 5 key shoulder stretches that you can do at home.
While learning a new tumbling skill is hard to do without the proper equipment, you can build your SSF so when you are able to get back in the gym, you have what it takes to learn that new skill.
Ingredient #3 Work on improving your basics:
“She tumbles like a cheerleader or she tumbles like a gymnast”, is one comment that just makes me laugh, as both cheerleaders and gymnasts should tumble the same if they are performing the same skills. From the Simone Biles master class, “I encourage you to master the basics, which are the foundation for learning harder skills and routines.”
Now is the perfect time to step back and focus on the basics. Yes, most people will agree that gymnasts do tumble better than most cheerleaders (unless the cheerleader started in gymnastics). What’s the secret? It’s all in the handstand. Because gymnasts are required to master the handstand before learning higher-level skills, they learn to squeeze their ankles, keep their head neutral, and push through their shoulders.
While it can be challenging and not advised to learn a new skill without proper safety equipment, use this time to work on your handstands, head placement, and fixing other technique issues that are preventing you from achieving your true potential. That brings us to the 4th key ingredient, which is working on drills to improve your technique.
Ingredient #4 Work on Drills:
Quads, Hamstrings, Gastrocnemius, Gluteus Maximus, Anterior Deltoids, and Trapezius are just 6 out of the over 70 muscles we use when doing a back handspring. (For a full list of muscles click here) We use 20 muscles just in our hands and wrist alone. So how do elite level tumblers get all those muscles to work properly? Right again, DRILLS! Drills are a great and safe way for coaches to break down skills into small chunks so the athlete can learn properly, and more importantly, safely. 3 of the biggest mistakes I see when working with athletes is poor head placement, improper shapes, and incorrect angles. Simply placing a shirt under the chin and performing a snap-down drill will help teach you how to keep your head neutral when tumbling. Go to youtube, type in tumbling drills, and you will find 100’s of drills that can be done while quarantined at home. It is important to note that practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. So it is important to make sure you are getting feedback on your drills to make sure you are performing them correctly.
Ingredient #5 Feedback:
“It takes 21 days to break a habit” is a myth. In a study performed by University College London using 96 people, the average time it took to create a new habit was 76 days. So, even if you have the discipline to work on your SSF, use drills to work on the basics and fix technique issues, it is pointless unless you are getting feedback. Proper feedback is the cornerstone of all great athletes progression. Did you know that approximately 65% of athletes require visual aids in order to conquer a skill and ⅓ of athletes require verbal feedback? It is important during this time that you are still receiving instruction while you are quarantine.
At MGA Cheer Extreme we are still training our athletes during this time of social distancing. We have set up different online zoom classes that focus on the basics. We are using at-home drills to improve technique and are providing conditioning and flexibility classes to make sure our athletes are ready when we get back to the gym. Starting April 27th, MGA’s new at-home training classes will allow athletes to upload videos from home and receive visual feedback that is crucial for their success. Even athletes who have mastered their craft can still find ways to train and meet with their coaches. In an interview, Simone Bile stated, “she is in constant contact with her coach via facetime while she is training at home.” While MGA Cheer Extreme can’t cure Corona, we can help make life feel a little normal by providing you the motivation and feedback you need to tumble like Simone Biles.