WAG struggling

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Feb 4, 2023
So, I’ve had my standing back tuck on dead mat for about four years. I cheer at university and after we went on Christmas break I came back for practice and am having massive trouble with cutting my tuck short/landing short. I’ve NEVER struggled to stand tuck until now. I’m not really sure what’s going on, but if anyone has any advice it would be very much appreciated. I have to get the skill back before nationals.

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Impossible to say for sure without seeing a video, but here are a few things most likely to help:

1) Focus on lifting the center of your chest straight up on takeoff. The takeoff should be more upward than backward

2) Make sure you're pulling your tuck as tight as possible. I know that in cheer, most athletes grab the backs of their knees, but if you can manage to grab your shins, it will help you pull a tighter tuck, and rotate more efficiently.

3) Build strength in the quads, hamstrings, back, and abs.
For quads, hamstrings, and back, I recommend hitting the weight room and doing some deadlifts and/or cleans. If you're not experienced with these sorts of lifts, bring a friend or coach who knows what they're doing who can advise you on proper technique. This will help you build the strength for a more explosive takeoff, giving you more height and rotating power.
For abs, there are any number of exercises you can do. Hollow rockers and hanging leg lifts are probably the two I'd favor the most, but there are a million ab exercises out there that will work fine. Ab strength will help you pull a tighter, more efficient tuck.

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: please don't think about this in terms of getting a skill by a deadline. You should never ever try to rush skill acquisition to meet a deadline. That's just asking for injuries. You get it when you get it, and it's always always always better in the long run to take the time to get the skill safely and cleanly.
I know you want to have the skill in time for Nationals, but if you get injured trying to rush it, you're just going to set yourself back even more. And if you're in college, you're at the age where knee and ankle injuries can become permanent.
This is the voice of experience talking. I underrotated a skill once at 22 years old, and it ended my gymnastics career. 13 years later, I still feel that injury every time I go up or down a flight of stairs. No competition is worth that.
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