How to do a Round-off Back Tuck in Cheerleading
At the competitive level of cheerleading, it is not uncommon to see an entire team execute round-off back tucks. Learning a back tuck can be very difficult and sometimes frightening, but if you follow the steps below, you can learn the skill safely and with precision.
It is best to learn a back tuck in conjunction with a round-off. If you connect a back tuck with a round- off, you will have more momentum going into the jump, and therefore an easier time getting the height needed to rotate.
Remember to always use a spotter when you are learning new tumbling skills. Also, all tumbling should be performed on mats, off of hard ground—over 65% of female athlete injuries are cheerleading-related, so take your safety seriously.
To ensure a successful back tuck, you must have a high and powerful rebound from your round-off:
- Instead of landing the round-off with your hands down to your sides and feet planted firmly on the ground, keep your arms up and spring into the air as high as possible.
- Act as though you are jumping out of your round-off and trying to touch the ceiling.
- You must keep your back straight, arms up and head pointed forward.
Hot Tip: Improve Your Rebound
Before learning a back tuck, you must be able to get a strong rebound from your round-off. One way to master this skill is to get a running start going into the round-off because it will help you bounce out of it as high as possible. You should end your round-off with your knees bent so that you can easily jump up and start your back tuck.
Practice just the rebound, which is essentially the jump out of your round-off, until you feel comfortable. Once you have aced this skill, you can then move onto the back tuck.
There is one baby step in-between the rebound and the actual flip:
- Right before you reach the peak of the rebound, make your body completely straight, from your fingertips to your toes.
- This position will help you use the momentum from the rebound to reach the highest possible point.
- This is called the “set” because you are setting up to tuck your body.
Now it is time to start rotating your body!
- Once you reach the highest point of the rebound, swing your arms firmly backward, while simultaneously tucking your legs into your chest.
- By circling your arms around your body, you will gain the momentum needed to rotate your body backwards.
- Your knees should be tucked tight into your body. Your arms can either be wrapped around your knees or grasping your shins.
- By squeezing your body into a tight ball, you will travel faster and have more time to rotate 360-degrees before landing back on the ground.
- Keep your head straight throughout your entire rotation. Pick a spot on the wall and keep your eyes locked on it as long as possible—do not look backwards! This will ensure that you are moving up and in the right direction.
Hot Tip: Perfecting the Tuck
There is more to a successful back tuck than just putting your body into a simple tuck position. From the set stance, you not only have to bring your knees to your chest—you have to rotate your hips up as well. Lifting your hips upwards will bring your knees closer to your chest and make your body as small as possible. The more compact your body is, the faster you will rotate.
Essentially, you open up your body in order to land the back tuck, but be careful: An early release will cause you to fall forward or to land before the entire 360-degree rotation has been completed.
- Once you have rotated around, start looking for the ground. By keeping your head forward you will be able to time the end of the rotation as you see the ground come into view.
- At this time, start to release your tuck and bring your chest forward.
- You want to end your back tuck in a standing position with your legs slightly bent and ready to absorb your weight.
- Do not fully release from the tuck position until you are perpendicular with the ground.
Learning how to safely and properly execute a round-off back tuck will instantly boost your cheerleading career—you will ace tryouts, be a huge asset to your team, and impress any crowd. If you are looking for a challenge, start working on a standing back tuck or a round-off back handspring tuck.