"Can you teach me how to do a back handspring?" Vigilantly educating students on shapes, drills, and progressions.

Teaching tumbling requires constant vigilance in educating the step-by-step progressions to skill development because people will always focus on direcltly working on the skills.  I had a girl in one of my recreational classes say, "can you teach me a back handspring?" 

I said, "Sure.  Are you trying out for cheerleading?" She responded, "No. I just want to learn it."  She's 10.  Eventually, she confessed, however, that in 7th grade there's a cheerleading team and she would like to be on it. I told her, "Well, you know the donkey kicks on trampoline?... You need to be able to take those to handstand and be able block and push off in a tight body position."

Then I showed her and the class:

* How to hold a straight body position: Tight, straight, standing body position, emphasizing shoulders to ears, "standing tall," on their toes, squeezing glutes/butt tight, thighs tight, thighs, legs tight, arms straight reaching to the ceiling, stomach tight (get rid of the lower back arch).  They said it was "hard." I agreed, "Of course it is, this is gymnastics.  And you need to do this upside down in a handstand position.  If you can't do this standing, you won't be able to do it upside down."

*Then we went over the hollow prone (push-up like position) reaching hands forward as far as they can, pushing the rounded back towards the ceiling.  "This is a very important position.. this is what you do when you snap down for the back handpsring."  They didn't seem to understand fully, so I asked, "Do you understand?" No answer.  With my hands I said, "this is your head", pointing with my left index finger to the bottom of my right palm, "And this, your feet," referring to my right fingers, showing an arch with my right hand "When you jump back to a back handspring and you hit your hands on the ground, you have to hit this tight arch position, and then snap your body to a hollow position, which is the hold you're holding right now, " showing a reversed arch with my right hand to show the transition to a hollow shape.  

 *Then we went towards the incline/cheese mat that was already set leaning against the wall.  "Go on handstand and put your feet here.  Squeeze in a tight arch position, legs straight, squeeze your butt tight, shoulders to ears... Now, this is the position you hit when you do a back handspring." When they got down to take a breath, they said, exasperated and sighing, "this hurts."

the other one said, "it's hard." 

"Of course it is.  If you can't hold this position, what are you going to do when you jump back to a back handspring?"  

She started to say something about a friend getting spotted and I interrupted her and said, "Well, spotting is ok, but you're better off working on these skills first as you build better habits with them and you'll be able to do more complicated skillls later, like round off back handspring layout." 

Teaching tumbling, for me, is this constant and vigilant teaching and arguing with students.  It's non-stop, never-ending. I'm hoping this website helps me and other coaches.