Cheating is generally considered a bad thing, but when it comes to cheat grips and tricks for stunts it can be a good thing. Finding a way to get the same look of a skill, a full up for example, using a grip that makes it easier or less risky is a great training tool and helps the athletes build confidence.
Figuring out cheat tricks and grips isn’t always easy. I usually get ideas from watching stunt videos in reverse or watching live stunts fall. Finding them takes time, a different point of view, and a little creativity, but when you find them it makes it worthwhile.
The Perfect Cheer World is the topic of discussion on the 39th Drills=Skills.
When working stunts add an extra element to the end. Instead of doing only your 4 elements to hit the high range, practice with a 5th or 6th, even if it’s a repeat of one of the first 4. This will help build stunt endurance and increase control of the stunt sequence, since they’ll need to maintain control of the stunt to be able to add additional elements.
This week’s Drills=Skills features Shea and David talking about Level 4 tumbling.
This one also could have been named practice to music because as much as possible your teams should practice to music. This will get the athletes used to counting music and more importantly, counting to music while performing skills. This can only help a team when performing to music.
At a minimum use an 8 count track, like this one by Bowd Beal with Go! Fight! Win! Music:
I should probably say keep your elbows in, but that title isn’t as catchy. When stunting as a base, cradles excluded, elbows should stay inside of the shoulders. Power is lost when the elbows get wider than the shoulders. I see this being a problem most often on twisting up to group stunts, such as full ups, and the toss of coed style stunts. Focusing on keeping the elbows as close to the center of the body as possible during stunts will keep the top person’s body better aligned, making the stunts easier to hit.
I’ve heard several coaches emphasize the need to keep elbows in, but probably none more than Tony Crump, current coach at the University of Memphis, and Saleem Habash, former coach of the University of Kentucky and Dunbar High School.
Safety is the topic for the 37th Drill=Skills.
Debbie Love has been preaching the Dynamic Warmup for as long as I can remember. It’s the idea of moving through positions to stretch and warmup muscles instead of static stretching, which is hitting a position and holding it. Men’s Fitness said a Dynamic Warmup is:
a series of movements designed to increase body temperature, activate the nervous system, increase range of motion, and correct limitations.
A Dynamic Warmup should do a better job of preparing the athletes for practice than a static warmup. It will warmup the muscles without breaking them down, allowing an athlete to perform at a higher level. Here’s an example of one of Debbie’s Dynamic Warmups:
Wendy Bruce-Martin returns to the 36th edition of Drill=Skills to discuss Mental Prep with David and Shea.
In tumbling it’s pretty standard to break each skill down into parts. The instructors at the USASF regional meetings did a great job of this, pointing out the entry, middle, and exit of each skill. We need to start doing the same things for stunts and developing drills that help with the pieces. The only person I’ve seen really taking this approach is Kenny Feeley.
If we start looking at stunts though the entry, middle, and exit lenses, isolating each part and working on them separately, we’ll probably be able to progress in a safer and faster manner. We should take a stunt like a traditional full up prep and work on the entry, loading in and getting the explosive power up, the middle, the twisting of the top and arm/hand/wrist work of the base, and the end, catching high and absorbing through the legs, as separate pieces.
We can also take pieces from one stunt and apply them to another. For example, I had a guy working on back handspring full ups (which I think twist the wrong way, but I seem to be alone with that thought). He was having a hard time with 2 things, turning his left hand over to catch and catching low with his arms bent. My suggestion to him was to do a couple full up left cupies, spinning left, each day to work on turning his hand around. I also suggested doing Kenny’s drop and lock drill to get used to locking out arms if the stunt isn’t caught with locked arms. Breaking the skill into these parts will allow the guy to get better at the parts he’s struggling with without throwing the hard skill over and over again.