The importance of conditioning the tuck

One of the crucial abilities in gymnastic tumbling is the ability to pull your knees into your chest and make a ball: The Tuck.

If you cannot, or won’t, ‘Tuck” your tumbles will be  open,  slow and difficult to land.

This means that you must get your  calves  to stick to your hamstrings and your knees to your chest with a rounded back . The G force of most tumbles will try and rip this shape apart. Make sure you can squeeze the tuck both through body control ( abs, chest and leg compression) and by pulling your knees in by grabbing your upper shin’s. As much time as you spend dish and arching, allocate to the tuck, especially if you are open  and lazy in your front and back tuck. On the whole, get this shape with the head sort of  neutral, not  massively strained back ( you are preparing for both a front and back tuck).

If you were taught the basics properly, you will be used to this position in your forward rolls. As an adult, most gymnastic teachers will shy off demanding that you properly tuck in your rolls, and thus leave you unconditioned. The forward roll will put you into a tuck by the nature of the move, but its more a “flop into place tuck” than one you have worked for. I’ll post more later, but hold that tuck in  a variety of positions.

IMG_1591 OIMG_1592

Round-off: failure to land in a lunge

This is a major problem for me and other adult (learner)  gymnasts. In order to round-off , the  leading leg needs to be able to support a deepish lunge position that allows the energy to be transferred forward. Quickly. Then snapped straight, to drive the leg up to catch the other one up.

Its  a problem frequently overlooked and seems to haunt those who have done “proper” exercise. A “proper” exercise lunge ( or the split jerk in Olympic Weightlifting) will demand an upright torso, and probably the heel down on the leading leg.

It is aimed at keeping energy centred, not “rolling it” forward.

You need to be able to direct the lunge forward with a knee bend and not prematurely straighten it.

For now, start building a bit of static “round off lunge” position into your life. It is true that you will never hold the position as the energy is going forward, but when I started to correct this position with my coach, I found that I could not hold this position. I’ll blame a dodgy adductor muscle for now, but the reality is, if I couldn’t hold it, why would I be able to jump into it? The front foot is more on the ball of the foot than the heel, and my shoulders are forward, Neutrali(ish) spin.

Add this to your practice. Once you have it you can begin to turn your upper body away in “proper” preparation of the round off.