The Benefits of Basics – Why do we still do forward and backward rolls?

Any gym worth its salt will include basics and progressions in their program and continue to espouse the benefits of basics, progression and patience throughout the levels whether it be Gymnastics, T&T or Cheer.  If you are a part of a program that seems to work on skills alone and you rarely see a skill deconstructed into drill stations, I ask that you reevaluate your choice of program or facility. 

The short, quick answer to the initial question is that once your child reaches a certain proficiency in the sport, they will begin to leave the ground and flip without any hands contacting the floor.  The first shape they will utilize is the tuck.  The Back Tuck and Front Tuck are the first flipping skills they will master and being able to achieve the tight tuck position while airborne is important to their success.  For this reason, we continue to practice this shape on the floor all the way up into our advanced levels by doing tucked backward and forward rolls and variations thereof. 

A better, less obvious reason for practicing skills such as these rolls, is to compare a child’s development in gymnastics, tumbling, trampoline or cheer to building a house.  The house can begin to look like a livable structure at first, but at the first bit of wind or shaky ground (or in sport a stumbling block), that house will crumble without a strong, complete foundation.  Bringing it back to the aspect of an athlete in gymnastics, T&T or cheer, they might reach a certain level of proficiency without paying attention to basics or fundamentals, but they will certainly reach a point where progress stops or reverses, injury occurs or fear takes over, therefore, limiting progress.  By taking our time and focusing on perfecting basics, strong, complete progressions and by not skipping any steps, we can reduce the risk of injury, reduce slower or reversed progress and reduce fears exponentially.  It is not a guarantee that these issues won’t rear their ugly heads, but it will give the child a big advantage in continued progress (even though slow at some points), it will help them to manage fear by being able to back up to a prior progression to feel some success before moving on again and reduces the risk of injury.

To sum up, don’t fret if you see your child performing what seem like “beginner”, basic skills during their workout even if they have progressed to the highest levels of their sport.  It shows that the program you are with knows what it takes to develop physically and mentally strong, complete athletes.  As I said before, if you do not see your child refresh their basics from time to time or if you don’t see drill stations included as part of their workout, you might be wise to rethink the program you are participating in.  Children cannot achieve their highest potential just performing skills and quickly moving from skill to skill without breaking them down and perfecting them to some extent. 

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”  -John Wooden

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