Progressions: Partner Stunts and Tumbling

Information from the National Federation of State High School Associations

As with any athletic activity, it is the coach’s responsibility to ensure that team members demonstrate proficiency with lower level skills before progressing to more advance skills. Justnas the prudent football, field hockey or volleyball coach does not allow a player to take the field without adequate skills and preparation, the prudent spirit coach will not allow her/his participants to perform skills for which they are not adequately trained. These progressions are general in nature, and do not attempt to list every skill. All spirit stunts should be learned according to accepted progressions which means from lower to higher from easy to more complex.

If stunts are learned in this order and with concentration on the proper techniques, the ability level of your squad will naturally progress to higher and higher levels.  When this progression is not adhered to, a squad’s ability level will tend to level off at an intermediate level, unable to master more difficult stunts because of an inability to demonstrate the fundamental partner stunt techniques required for advanced and elite stunts. 

Please note that the performance and safe execution of specific stunts, tosses and tumbling requires that they are limited to mats, grass or rubberized tracks as stated in the NFHS rules book. You should review this area and become very familiar with these specific performance skills and the appropriate surfaces on which they are allowed.

Partner Stunt Progressions

  1. Step-up drills
  2. Double-base thigh stand
  3. Double-base shoulder stand
  4. Single-base shoulder stand
  5. Extension prep, step off dismount
  6. Cradle drills
  7. Extension prep, cradle dismount
  8. Press extension, return to shoulders, cradle dismount
  9. Press extension, cradle dismount
  10. Full extension Step-up Liberty
  11. Ground-up Liberty
  12. Braced liberty tick-tock
  13. Skills to cradles (i.e. toe touches and twists)
  14. Basket toss drills (“rides”)
  15. Basket toss skill execution (i.e. toe touches and twists)

NOTE: No partner stunt should be attempted until each individual skill in the progression is mastered.

Tumbling Skill Levels

Level 1 – Basic rolls, bridges, handstands, cartwheel, round-off handstand forward roll, back walkover, front walkover

Level 2 – Standing back handspring, round-off back handspring, standing back handspring series, aerial cartwheel

Level 3 – Round-off back handspring series, standing back tuck, round-off back tuck, round-off back handspring back tuck, layouts from round-off back handspring, whip backs, half twists, full twists.

Transitional Stunts and Inversions

Transitional stunts and inversions are the fastest evolving and creative areas in modern spirit programs. The coach and students must master the individual building block skills before attempting these stunts. Most transitions and inversions are considered advanced stunts and should only be performed by well trained, skillful teams that are taught and supervised by a well-qualified coach.

Training/Safety Equipment

As with other athletics, training aids may be made available to a spirit program. Training aids for spirit programs may include various types of matting, spotting belts, handspring trainers and spring-assisted equipment such as spring floors, mini-trampolines, and springboards. While some of these devices, such as the spring-assisted apparatuses, may not be used for competition or performance, they may assist with the learning of a skill or allow for repetitive skill practice with less strain. Regardless of their use, it is the coach’s responsibility to ensure that these aids are being used under properly trained supervision and that they are kept in proper condition.