If there was one skill that has become the unwritten benchmark for a higher level athlete, it would undoubtedly be the standing back tuck. Many schools and programs use it as a benchmark skill. For those that have had their tuck for a while, you may have forgotten the time, effort, tears, and carpet burned knees that led you up to that point.
The standing back tuck is one of the skills I get asked most about. Fortunately for some *COUGH*guys*COUGH, the standing back tuck comes relatively simple. However, for most, it is a love of trial and failure that leads to that one day when…boom…you land on your feet and see the smiles and support of your team and your coach. One of the things I miss most about coaching tumbling on a regular basis…that look on an athletes face when they land a new skill for the first time. There’s nothing like it…
When looking to land or improve your tuck, we can break the movement down into pieces and work on improving all three individually to create an overall stronger movement.
1. Jump- In order to land a back tuck, we have to jump high enough to rotate fully and still have enough room between our body and the ground to get our feet under us. In order to do this, we need to be more powerful in our jump. We can work on this by doing plyometric (jump) workouts and strengthening our legs/glutes/calves. Check out some of the Workout Wednesdays that post to find exercise ideas. Additionally, we must work on keeping the chin parallel to the floor while working on the jump…if we whip the head back when tucking, it will affect how well we can do number two…
2. The tuck- In order to spin around quickly there must be a rapid drive of the knees toward the chest. The tighter we get into a ball, the faster we will spin. Think about figure skaters. When they are spinning; if they let their arms away from their body, it slows them down. However, if they bring their arms in tight, it’s like hitting the gas pedal! They begin to spin so quickly! The same applies to rotating in a tuck. The tighter of a ball you can get into, the faster you will rotate. Ways to build this are to build up core strength by doing laying tuck roll ups. Additionally, you can build up a stack of mats that are roughly the height of your shoulders. While standing directly in front of them, jump and tuck roll onto the top of the mats.
3. The landing- the goal is to land completely upright with a slight bend in the knees and the head and chest up as high as possible. When working on your tucks, make the landing an important piece with each repetition. Have “clean landing” in your mind with each and every attempt. It doesn’t matter how good the other two pieces are if your landing is sloppy or if you touch down.