The standing back tuck – a skill all cheerleaders and gymnasts look forward to learning. But how do you get there? Below are some tips to help you (or the cheerleader in your life) work towards mastering the standing back tuck.
Preparing to do your standing back tuck
Like with all new skills, preparation is a key part of successfully doing a standing back tuck.
First, you need to be ready to tackle this tumbling skill . In order to attempt this skill, a cheerleader should have mastered their standing back handspring, and ideally, a round-off back handspring. Mastering a round-off back handspring back tuck would be an even better foundation for a standing back tuck. If you do not have the proper foundation, you can not expect to have success or to be safe when learning this skill. Please do not attempt a standing back tuck if have not yet mastered the foundation.
Second, like all skills, the standing back tuck requires a proper warm-up. Before starting any tumbling session, the athlete should stretch. You will need to have your shoulders loose, your legs warmed up and your hips and core ready. Your legs create power for this skill and your hips and core are the key to a tight tuck position and completing the rotation.
Finally, to ensure safety while practicing your standing back tuck, make sure you are working with a skilled spotter and the appropriate mats.
Parts of a Standing Back Tuck
The standing back tuck can be divided into 3 distinct segments. Each is equally important to perfecting this skill.
Set – The first part of the tuck is the set. Proper use of your arms and legs ensure that you have the momentum to set. Having enough height is necessary to make a full rotation in the air. The higher you set, the more time you have to complete the rotation before landing.
The Tuck – Part two is the tuck itself. You need to be able to get your hips up and your legs into a tight tuck position. This position helps ensure you have the momentum to make the full rotation. When preparing for your standing back tuck, it is helpful to practice the tuck position on the floor. To do this, simply lay on your back on the floor and pull your legs to your chest into a tuck position. Become familiar with the motion required to get your legs in tight to your body.
Landing – Finally comes the landing. You need to be able stick the landing to complete a standing back tuck. Sticking the landing means you have fully rotated and land on your feet.
Completing the Standing Back Tuck
Now that you have a basic idea of the foundations of a standing back tuck, let’s tackle the actual steps required to complete the skill.
Step 1 – Start by standing up straight with your arms by your side. Swing your arms back while bending your legs into a squat position. Keep your chest and eyes up. The importance of this step should not be underestimated. This is the foundation for the entire standing back tuck and where the power for the skill comes from. This step combined with step 3 below is where the height for standing back tuck comes from.
Step 2 – From the squat, swing your arms back up, jump, and set with your arms by your ears to begin the skill. Do not throw your head back during this step (or the step 4), as this will limit the height you will need to complete the skill.
Step 3 – As you are beginning the backwards rotation, pull your legs to your chest. Stay in a tight “tuck” position throughout the entire skill to ensure you get the full rotation in order to land safely and properly.
Step 4 – After you complete the full rotation, land with your feet. Get your check up as soon as possible upon landing.
Drills to Help Perfect Your Standing Back Tuck
Vertical Jumps– It helps to practice the set position of a standing tuck. Simply start with your feet together and arms by your side. Swing your arms back as you squat, then up by your ears (touchdown cheer motion) as you jump. It is important to keep your chest up during this drill. Practice this drill until you maximize your power and increase the height of your vertical jump. This imitates the feeling of the set position. Once you are comfortable with the vertical jump, try adding a tuck jump to mimic the feeling of bringing your legs to your chest to begin the rotation of the flip.
Practice on a trampoline – Once you are feeling more comfortable, it helps to practice on a trampoline. Practice all four steps on a trampoline with an experienced spotter. The bounce of the equipment helps you with your height, thus making it easier to complete the rotation.
Practicing on a higher surface – When you feel comfortable doing a standing back tuck on a trampoline and are ready to move to floor mats, it can initially help to begin standing on a mat that is slightly higher than the floor. This added height helps you ensure enough time to complete your rotation. Keep practicing from the higher mat until you are comfortable enough to do it on floor.
Like all cheer and tumbling skills, mastering your standing back tuck requires practice and dedication. But if you have strong foundations and put in the work you can perfect your standing back tuck.