I think the Gymnastics world has spoiled me...

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MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
So, most of you know that my dd was a cheerleader last year and for the past 3 years and this is the first year she is doing gymnastics. While dd was at her gymnastics practice yesterday morning, I went with a cheer mom friend to her daughters first competition of the season. It was a small comp at a high school and their teams did really well for how early it is in the season.

So, I'm sitting there watching and noticing how "jacked up" most of the tumbling was!!! UGH! So many bent legs in BHSs and so many bent legged-fulls that ended up crashing on their knees! VERY SCARY!!! I guess I am just so spoiled by the "pretty, nice technical form" of the higher level gymnasts that I have been seeing in our gym. Even the Level 4 gymnasts have way better BHSs then some of the kids on the cheer teams that I saw yesterday! I know that they are considered 2 different sports and I will probably hear some flack from some of the cheerleaders on this board, but MAN!...you can definitely notice the difference between the cheerleading tumbling and the gymnastics tumbling.

I do have to say that my dd 1st cheer gym competed there (they are coached by ex-russian acrobats) with the training and background in tumbling for gymnastics and they had some of the best tumbling--probably because the coaches were gymnasts and teach "gymnastics form".

All in all, I do miss the excitement and "atmosphere" of the cheerleading to an extent, but I really am glad that dd is getting trained in gymnastics and can be pretty much assured that her tumbling form will be beautiful, technically correct and safe.
 
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gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
You can definitely tell a difference but some gyms at least have "safe" tumbling. Some teams don't even really have that, but then again, I've seen similarly questionable things from gymnastics gyms. Girls falling on their head on BWO on beam in L6, etc. When I had just started gymnastics, I tried another small gym closer to my house for a couple of weeks, and they were going to put me on L5 team. I didn't have a RO BHS (so I basically cannot imagine what would possibly possess anyone to put me in a L5 group), but they told me to try it anyway. They didn't spot me and I'd land on my head every time and the coach would basically just chuckle about it. It was horrible. We didn't switch there obviously. But that gym still has a team all these years later, albeit not a terribly competitive one. Whenever I work compulsory meets I have to admit I cringe at some of what I see. Optional meets tend to be a little more self selective (with some exceptions) in my experience and the cringe worthy gymnastics is usually the various freak accidents that occur over the course of the meet.

Also can I just say, high school gymnastics...I need not say more. And trust me, I love high school gymnastics but it isn't the most reliable gymnastics you're going to ever see.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
Yes--I do agree that there are a lot of safe cheer gyms and unsafe gymnastics gyms and it is not really fair of me to generalize the way I did. I guess I can really notice the difference in the overall physical condition of the gymnast vs cheerleader and that is really where the main difference lies. Granted, there are a lot of really strong well conditioned cheerleaders, but as a whole, gymnasts, I think, are just more conditioned which results in a stronger athlete. I could be totally wrong, but that is just my opinion.

It would be interesting to hear from experienced gymnasts turned cheerleaders and/or experienced cheerleaders turned gymnasts on what they feel on this topic.
 

gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
Granted, there are a lot of really strong well conditioned cheerleaders, but as a whole, gymnasts, I think, are just more conditioned which results in a stronger athlete. I could be totally wrong, but that is just my opinion.
Typically the progression through the tumbling elements is slower and competitive gymnasts tend to work out more maybe at the optional levels (where skills like full twisting saltos would come in). But then again cheer tumbling is only focused on tumbling, not bars, etc, so that would account for some of the speed of progression. Bars takes more physical strength than just throwing tumbling. After a year or two of not really conditioning, RO BHS full is not a problem for me but kip cast HS, free hip HS is getting to be a struggle.

I think it really depends on the program and the skill specific conditioning that is done. There is no reason you can't teach just tumbling correctly. There are people doing this. The problem is that some relatively inexperienced or self taught coaches are stressing any progression over correct progression. This happens in gymnastics too, particularly more recreational programs, but competitive gymnastics has a dominant governing body in USAG, which results for a more standardized program of progressions that many coaches have been exposed to for years as coaches or gymnasts. We wouldn't expect a BHS before the child could perform a decent back walkover (I'm talking about girl's gymnastics). But some tumbling coaches are skipping this step, because they taught themselves a BHS and can't do a BWO, or because they just don't see the point. In gymnastics you are generally not going to get far in the competitive levels unable to do a BWO. Most girls I've seen do a BHS that can't BWO have a significant shoulder angle issue. Having a BWO isn't insurance against that but the shoulder action through HS is important. This is just one example.
 
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BlairBob

Guest
I started tumbling in a cheer tumbling class at college. Actually it was just a tumbling class but was run by the cheer coach with a lot of her cheerleaders. I suffered a neck injury early on by them dropping me on a back handspring attempt when they said try it you'll be fine. After rolling and crawling to the side of the mat, I'm sure I was cursing them under my breath. I lost any desire to learn a BHS for quite a long time until my boss ( after I got into coaching ) told me he wanted me to start coaching tumbling. So I went back to BHS and taught myself as I also became anti-being spotted by anyone ( even in basic skill training when coach training ).

Typically the strongest, well conditioned female cheerleaders won't hold a candle to a gymnast of similar tumbling skill level. However, a lot of the male cheerleaders can be pretty strong.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

Guest
The hours alone pretty much assure that cheerleaders won't be as strong or conditioned as gymnasts. My dd trained 20 hours a week for gymnastics and does 5 hours a week for cheer. I have her work separately with a gymnastics coach for additional tumbling to make sure she doesn't lose her form and end up with that 'jacked up' looking tumbling :p As supportive as I am trying to be of her now doing cheer - I still cringe as what some people call layouts or fulls, lol.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
I still cringe as what some people call layouts or fulls, lol.
LOL--I totally know what you mean!!!! I know that when I saw the older more advanced gymnasts tumbling at our gym, I was like "Oh--so that is what a layout is supposed to look like!" Everyone at the cheer gym made it look like a pike but they were saying that it was a layout... It totally confused me!! Well, at least NOW I know!!!
 

vmom

Member
Feb 15, 2008
130
Ok, I feel better having read these posts. I thought maybe I was being a gymnastics snob. Of course there are cheerleaders out there with fantastic tumbling. But, I was shocked to see the difference in the "polish" of a lot of comp gymnasts vs. cheer girls of the same age. There is a lot to be said for the progressions and hours of practice gymnasts put in!
 
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