Tumbling Up Hill

Tumbling up onto a set of stacked mats about 3′ – 5′ high is often called tumbling uphill. Many gyms now use, what is called in the United States, the Level 4 vaulting mat for doing this. The mats can be single mat system like that or a stack of 8″ or 12″ thick mats. The type of mats most commonly used are sometimes called crash mats or soft mats. Tumbling up hill seems to be used only for back tumbling, although the concepts, if not the exact same height of mats, could be used for improving front tumbling, as well.

Double Back Timer Tumbling Uphill

Working Up To It

To at least some degree, how high gymnasts can tumble is related to their height. It is also directly related to the amount of explosive tumbling power they possess, but a gymnast’s height is a definite factor. When gymnasts are first learning to tumble uphill, which usually should occur after they have mastered back tucks, coaches should start them with a 12″ thick mat and then 24″ – 30″ high mats and then up to the standard tumbling uphill mat heights.

Learning the Approach Tumbling

It is necessary for gymnasts to learn to measure and control their tumbling, so that they land their handsprings in the right place, so they can actually land on the mat. If the handspring is too far away, they will miss landing on the mat. If the handspring is too close, the handspring can run into the stack of mats. Gymnasts need to learn how to tumble up onto mats in the same way they need to learn to tumble into the pit. The techniques for learning both how to tumble uphill and tumble into the pit are virtually the same.

Land on Feet to Learn to Tumble High

The purpose of tumbling uphill is to force the gymnast to concentrate on learning to tumble high. If they do not tumble high enough onto the stacked mats, they will likely fall down. This is definite motivator for emphasizing tumbling high. This is primarily used for single somersault skills, but powerful gymnasts can also do double backs, not just double back timers, like this. It is also used to get gymnasts to do their twisting tumbling higher.

Double Back Timers

One of the primary uses of tumbling up is for gymnasts working on learning double backs and doing double back timers. The idea is, that if a gymnast can rotate 1&1/4 somersaults high enough and land on their back on the stacked up mats, they will eventually learn to set and rotate high enough, to be able to do double backs, without the mats there. So it is a double back timer station, that does not really require a coach to spot.
NOTE: Coaches will want to spot until they are certain the gymnast is always going to land the timer on the mat.  Coaches may always want to stand there, in case a gymnast falls back forward off the stack of mats.

Different Mat Set-Ups

There are different mat set-ups that are used when tumbling up. For gymnasts doing single somersaults and twisting to their feet, flat mats are always used. For double back timers, gymnasts may tumble up onto flat mats or onto a wedge mat (placed with the high end toward the gymnast’s tumbling starting point). This allows the gymnast to actually complete the rest of the “double” somersault by rolling over down the wedge mat hill after landing on their back.

Different Equipment Set-Ups

There are also a number of equipment set-ups when tumbling up hill. Gymnast can tumble up hill off of a regulation floor exercise mat, off of a rod floor, off a tumble tramp and, even, off of a trampoline. Ideally, all of those tumbling training and double back timer stations would be available for gymnasts to use.

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