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Cheer Tumbling vs. Gymnastics Tumbling

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MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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Shouldn't there be natural progressions of tumbling skills that are needed first before moving onto other tumbling skills? There just seems to be such a rush in cheer tumbling to "get certain skills" as opposed to in gymnastics.

For example, some of my dd's friends who were learning BHS's last year are now, after less than a year, being pushed and rushed to learn standing back tucks, RO tucks and layouts and punch fronts. Meanwhile, some of these kids, can't even do a decent handstand or front or back walkovers. It just seems so backwards to me and seems too rushed. I know that cheer is different and goes by a different timeline for skills, but is this really the right way to learn the advanced tumbling skills or is this just asking for injuries?
 

midwestgymmom

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Aug 27, 2006
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Good question!! I have also wondered how it works since I have no insight into cheer. I always think its strange to see a cheerleader do a skill opposed to seeing a gymnast do them
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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The main difference I see is that in cheerleading the objective is to throw the skill - having good form doesn't matter that much. The girls who do have good form tend to come by it more naturally. There are of course exceptions, and I'm sure there are good cheer programs out there. DD2 was lucky - she naturally had very good form - but was still pushed faster than she was comfortable with (which is why she no longer does it). I can't tell you how many girls there barely cleared the ground on back tucks, they thought layouts were back whips or pikes. The only girls there who really had nice tumbling tended to be former gymnasts.
 
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NYgymfan

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I know in my gym we have cheerleaders and rec gymnasts and tumblers all mixed up in the tumbling groups. The cheerleaders don't care about form. They want to progress really fast through the skills, and the coaches mostly let them so long as they are doing things safely. Then there are people like me who actually care about having good form. I've learned how to throw a bunch of different things...and that seems to be the easy part. Perfecting the form is hard though and takes much more time. When given the choice of trying new things or perfecting old things, I'll always go with perfecting things, and the cheerleaders usually want to learn new tricks. It bugs me to see the cheerleaders not care at all about their form....their skills look awful a lot of the time. But whatever, that is just another reason why I have more respect for gymnasts than cheerleaders!
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
2,236
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It bugs me too NYgymfan to see the cheerleaders only care about learning the next skill when they haven't even gotten the correct form with the current skill. You see a lot of "chucking the skill" in cheerleading lol where form is totally lost. Just because you can flip your body backwards without having your hands touch the ground doesn't mean that you have your tuck. And when cheerleaders do "layouts" it looks more like a piked back tuck than fully laid out.

There are some good tumbling coaches in cheer but if you look at their background it is one of gymnastics. Also, the really pretty tumblers on cheer squads are more often than not, former gymnasts.

I too have more respect for the gymnasts because they are more patient and really appreciate the form, technique and history and importance of the art of gymnastics.
 
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GymnastRaeRae87

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the cheerleaders who have just done cheer and no gymnastics seem to have shorter BHS and things like that with a little less than par form. But I have seen cheerleaders with nice form who have not done gymnastics, it really depends on the person I think. Gymnastics is more about form and making the skill look really good where as in cheer it is about making skills look nice but form isn't focused on as much as gymnastics.
 
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NYgymfan

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There is definitely a little bit of tension between the cheerleaders and gymnasts/tumblers in my class. I think its safe to say that there are two cliques and we prefer to have as little to do with the other as possible! The cheerleaders are just way to into superficial stuff and care way more about what they are wearing to practice and how straight their hair is and what kind of makeup they wear then how good their skills are. And they complain so much about how hot it is and how they have to do way too much conditioning and how gross it is that they can't wear their shoes while they tumble (coaches prefer not to get kicked in the face with a sneaker when spotting...). And everytime I see them tumble I want to scream "Point your darn toes!!!!"

Coaches are very good about letting those of us who want to perfect their skills do so though, and in a very short time the cheerleaders will be off at their own camp learning very hard skills such as how to yell "rah rah rah go team!".
 
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gracefulone

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Cheerleaders do often skip basics like handstands and such in favor of learning harder tricks more quickly. I believe there is more focus on standing skills as well-if you can do a bhs/bt standing, it doesn't matter if your RO is solid.
 
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NYgymfan

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Well, gracefulone, I do have to admit that my tumbling right now is very much like cheer tumbling. I guess it is because I started off asking my gf to teach me tricks so we'd go over to her tramp and she'd teach me to throw a skill and didnt care about form or learning the basics. Originally I had no intention of doing any tumbling other than "backyard" tumbling. But....at least I care enough to try to go back and learn the basics and clean up my form now, because I watch vids of myself at gym (they are all about instant replays at my gym) and I cringe. LOL. But really, its the lack of effort and lack of caring that bothers me more than the lack of perfect form.

Yay for 300 posts!
 

gymdog

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Former Gymnast
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Jul 5, 2007
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I saw this last week on youtube and this thread reminded me of it


YouTube - Gymnast & Cheerleader doing backtucks

Maybe I'm just insane, but those aren't that different to me. Also if the cheerleader is the one in shoes, I feel like hers was better at least the first time anyway. Why is the other girl stumbling out all over the place when she's in the correct position to land? The one in the green shorts had a little bit better set through the arms maybe but the one in the orange and blue is hardly anything to scoff at and seems to have taken less distance on the set-turnover.

Edit: I just wrote a really long reply and lost it. I'll try again later.
 
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gymnomore

Member
Aug 3, 2007
208
There is definitely a little bit of tension between the cheerleaders and gymnasts/tumblers in my class. I think its safe to say that there are two cliques and we prefer to have as little to do with the other as possible! The cheerleaders are just way to into superficial stuff and care way more about what they are wearing to practice and how straight their hair is and what kind of makeup they wear then how good their skills are. And they complain so much about how hot it is and how they have to do way too much conditioning and how gross it is that they can't wear their shoes while they tumble (coaches prefer not to get kicked in the face with a sneaker when spotting...). And everytime I see them tumble I want to scream "Point your darn toes!!!!"

Coaches are very good about letting those of us who want to perfect their skills do so though, and in a very short time the cheerleaders will be off at their own camp learning very hard skills such as how to yell "rah rah rah go team!".

This might be somewhat of a harsh judgement of all cheerleaders. They aren't all like that. Many of them are former gymnasts that DO care about form and aren't so obsessed about their looks. I for one, have a gymnast daughter that cares a little too much about "what she is wearing, how straight her hair is, and what kind of makeup she is wearing". Lucky for her, she is a natural athlete that doesn't have to work quite as hard as my other dd to gain skills. On the other hand, I have a cheerleader daughter who throws on any old workout shorts before practice, hurriedly ponytails her hair on the way there, and could care less about how much makeup she wears. Btw, she does care about learning harder skills than just yelling "rah rah rah", and works really hard to get them. So it could go both ways, and it might be a little too unfair to judge one group or the other on their work ethic.
 
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KBT

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Wanted to add that there is a difference between form and technique. If I were teaching cheerleaders I wouldn't care as much about form, but I would care about technique because it relates directly to safety and the ability to move on to the next hardest skill. I do the same for my gymnasts - if they have proper technique I'll let them start working the next hardest skill even if form isn't perfect. We can continue to work form on the easier skills over time.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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Wanted to add that there is a difference between form and technique. If I were teaching cheerleaders I wouldn't care as much about form, but I would care about technique because it relates directly to safety and the ability to move on to the next hardest skill. I do the same for my gymnasts - if they have proper technique I'll let them start working the next hardest skill even if form isn't perfect. We can continue to work form on the easier skills over time.

KBT, this was part of my earlier reply. If I recall correctly you're involved with high school gymnastics? I think coming from this perspective a lot of things make a lot more sense. Basically I think a lot of people are making a comparison like high school cheerleader to JO gymnast, and that's not really fair. There are really different goals in the program. If you look at high school gymnastics, yes much of it is not the same quality of JO gymnastics but that is not the goal of the program and there are ways to teach skills safely without the athlete being perfect on form and amplitude. The goals of all star cheerleading are different from JO gymnastics as well, and there are different programs doing different things.

I don't know how to respond to a lot of this thread because I think there are a lot of inaccuracies and unfair characterizations. I'm always really puzzled by the scorn that is heaped on cheerleading from the gymnastics community and I don't think it reflects well at all. Having been on both sides of the equation, a lot of the "tension" is really one-sided. Also, any competitive cheerleading is more than learning how to yell "rah rah rah." A lot of hard work goes in, even for fairly low level high school cheerleading.

Many of these girls go from not doing any activity like this before to lifting 100+ lbs, learning tumbling skills, memorizing cheers and dance and motions, working jumps, learning to work as a team, and then they need to not only be able to do these things separately but as part of a routine where they have to consider many other people. It's not as easy as it looks, even high school. Seriously. And I'm not a cheerleader.
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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I have been on both sides of the equation. My dd did All Star cheer at a very competitive gym last year and her team, Youth Level 2 was actually ranked #10 in the nation out of ALL level 2 teams including all mini, youth, junior AND senior teams (sorry--I know I'm bragging :)). So they definitely worked very hard and logged many hours in the gym.

But many gyms, even the big ones don't have all the teams available for every kid. It goes by division so most gyms have a mini (8 yrs and under) level 1 (basic cartwheels and front/back walkovers), a mini or Youth 2 (BHS's) and then there is the Level 3 which incorporates higher difficulty stunting and RO back tucks, punch fronts and multiple BHS's for tumbling. Level 4 and 5 adds layouts, standing back tucks then fulls and arabians respectively. So if there isn't a team where your kid has those exact skills, then they either have to move down a level or up a level. A LOT of the kids choose to move up to be on the more advanced junior or senior team that has the higher level skills. So this is where they feel the pressure "to get that back tuck" or "to get that full".

This is my point. In gymnastics kids usually don't skip levels unless it is going from level 1 to level 3 and skipping level 2, I am assuming. And this is only when they have met all the requirements.

Since switching to gymnastics, I like the progressions of skills--it just makes more sense and my dd just does better in an environment where she is not rushed and she UNDERSTANDS every element before moving on. From my experience in cheer, I just felt like she was being rushed and she didn't fully understand the skill that they were having her work on. She developed a mental block because the back tuck was introduced to her too fast before she had a good understanding of the BHS. BHS's you go back and in tucks you have to jump up--she was getting very confused and ended up not being able to tumble anything backwards.

So, my point is that, slower, proper progressions seem to work best when teaching tumbling to most kids.
 
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NYgymfan

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This might be somewhat of a harsh judgement of all cheerleaders. They aren't all like that. Many of them are former gymnasts that DO care about form and aren't so obsessed about their looks. I for one, have a gymnast daughter that cares a little too much about "what she is wearing, how straight her hair is, and what kind of makeup she is wearing". Lucky for her, she is a natural athlete that doesn't have to work quite as hard as my other dd to gain skills. On the other hand, I have a cheerleader daughter who throws on any old workout shorts before practice, hurriedly ponytails her hair on the way there, and could care less about how much makeup she wears. Btw, she does care about learning harder skills than just yelling "rah rah rah", and works really hard to get them. So it could go both ways, and it might be a little too unfair to judge one group or the other on their work ethic.

Just to clarify...because I realize that it might not be clear in my other post...that was a judgment mostly of the cheerleaders in my gym and not all cheerleaders as a whole group. I would not want to make such a big judgement, and I certainly wasnt trying too. Bottom line is I don't have very much respect for the ones in my gym because of their lack of work ethic. There are certainly some cheerleaders that work hard and want to do well. The people I tumble with, none of us really has much gymnastics experience. There are some former gymnasts that are now cheerleaders in the more advanced tumbling group. I'm honestly very curious about what people think about them, if they get more respect from the gymnasts (I'm sure they do), and how much they want to perfect their skills, instead of throwing a crappy skill and saying "good enough".


I'd have to say most of my gym friends close to my age have negative opinions of cheerleaders though. If its based on fact or steriotype, I'm not sure, but it is how we tend to feel.

And gymnomore, I'm glad that your DD's ar hard workers. They sound like they will gain much more out of cheerleading then other cheerleaders who are really more into the superficial stuff then perfecting their skills. I wish them best of luck and hope that they can stay above the superficialness.
 

gymdog

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This is my point. In gymnastics kids usually don't skip levels unless it is going from level 1 to level 3 and skipping level 2, I am assuming. And this is only when they have met all the requirements.

I don't really consider this to be true. More team gymnasts might skip lower levels but plenty of gymnastics programs skip levels, something I don't happen to agree with in many cases and have often seen ultimately end badly. Skipping level 6 is not uncommon and some gyms do it essentially as a rule. There are probably lots of posts just on this site complaining basically about kids not moving fast enough in gymnastics, and I've heard many such complaints in real life as well. I've been asked in both programs whether we can't "just teach" a certain skill. People who are new to the sport sometimes have an idea that they can just get a private and we can teach the skill...in reality of course most of us here by now have learned it depends on a lot of physical and mental factors, not just the will of the athlete to perform the skill (although that does go a long way).

So, my point is that, slower, proper progressions seem to work best when teaching tumbling to most kids.

It depends on the child and how things are being taught. Things need to be achieved satisfactorily regardless of the training time. "Most" kids in your average class simply don't have the physical abilities to fly through things anyway. It will take them a significant amount of time to build the strength and coordination to achieve even simple skills. A bad coach could also go slower and produce bad results by the time they achieved each next step. If they can't tell when an athlete is ready to move on physically and mentally, then more than timing is off. They should be checking off that things are in order including the will to perform harder skills. Correct progressions work period, slower or not. The time is relative to me because I can't really define what's "slower" or "faster" for one athlete...at the beginning levels where you have such disparate abilities, that's hard to do. It's when progressions are completely skipped over or the athlete isn't also mentally ready that problems come in. It's hard to make a straight comparison of one cheer program to one gymnastics program. There are bad gymnastics programs too. Even ones that win can end up having a lot of problems. Some environments just aren't right for some athletes.

Age can also mean a lot. USAG has L4 cutoff at 6, but even that is very young and not in my opinion the ideal age for the vast majority of athletes to be doing gymnastics at that level at that age. Asking little kids to do a lot can often result in stress and fear because they can't be expected to go through progressions and perform at the same rate every day as older children and it's easy to start treating them as older than they are. There's a world of difference even between 6 and 8. The older ones have such a clearer picture of what they are doing, understand their own abilities more, can focus for longer periods of time. The Mini divisions are cute but I'd be wary in general of what I expected 6s and 7s to do, regardless of physical ability. I've just seen too many kids move backwards after learning tumbling too early, even if they were performing the skills adequately at one point.

There are many gymnastics gyms out there with level 4s doing BHSs that I don't consider technically ideal, and all star cheer gyms with higher level athletes who do have good tumbling technique. A lot of times when people in gymnastics make fun of cheerleading tumbling, they are looking at the tumbling equivalent of level 3 and 4 and then judging it by optional standards. Level 3 and 4 gymnastics doesn't look that good the first time either! They're just learning the basics and the base is very hard to build.
 
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NYgymfan

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I've heard of gyms having USAG sanctioned meets outside of the normal competition season just so they can compete once at the level they are skipping over in order to qualify for the level they are skipping to.
 

Tumblequeensmom

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I just wanted to add my own (VERY LIMITED) two cents worth here as well... Now keep in mind that I've only got experience, observations with 3 local gyms. DD's FIRST gym, very well respected, competitive gym, did NOT allow any girls to skip level 6. As a result, when they competed level 7, they were very well prepared, and they subsequently scored very well also. Many spent 1 year at 6, just one year at L7, and then were up to L8.

There's another local gym as well, that has MOST girls test at L6, scoring the minimum score (which most seem to be able to do), and they skip right to L7. Well, their scores are nothing to boast about, AND I just noticed over the summer that these girls are spending another year at L7.

So, I guess my question/statement is.... what did they really accomplish? (If in fact, they're trying to hurry up to get to optionals). I don't know. I do agree with everyone else here, that the foundation is the most important thing. If the skills aren't solid, no one should skip a level.

-Lynn
 
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Granny Smith

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So, I guess my question/statement is.... what did they really accomplish? (If in fact, they're trying to hurry up to get to optionals). I don't know. I do agree with everyone else here, that the foundation is the most important thing. If the skills aren't solid, no one should skip a level.

-Lynn

Sometimes I think some gyms test out of 6 to 7 because 6 is scored so hard. I personally feel if you can score decent at 6, you most likely will do very well at 7 - especially at bars. Our gym once scored girls out of 6 when the routines changed a couple of yrs ago - the coaches didn't think the girls would do well with the new more "dance-y" floor routine. Those girls were pushed so hard to get the 7 skills (giant, BHS on beam, FHS-FT on floor). There were a lot of upset little girls. With these girls being pushed, their form paid the price. Their giants really didn't look great until their 2nd yr at 8.

My dd competed 6 and this past yr competed 7. The skills came so much easier to her and her form was spot on. This was not only my dd, but her teammates too. I think there is a lot to be said about competing L6. It's tough, but I think it really makes the gymnast focus on form, which they carry on to the optional levels. This year we are onto L8 and sky's the limit!
 
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