How to: A Perfect Round-Off Back Tuck
A gymnast or cheerleader executing a round-off back tuck must combine two separate skills into one smooth tumbling pass. To successfully complete a round-off back tuck, you must be comfortable doing each skill on its own, and you must achieve the right amount of speed and momentum while transitioning from the round-off to the back tuck. If you are new to these skills or an inexperienced tumbler, make sure you have a coach or teammate spotting for you.
Begin with a running start. Some people only need a few running steps to build momentum for the round off. Others need more. Take as many steps as you need, building speed as you approach the round-off.
Do a hurdle as you step into your round-off. This is similar to a skip. Raise your stronger leg off the ground and place it in front of you as you begin the round-off.
Place your hands on the floor, similar to the way you would place them when doing a cartwheel. As you put your hands down, kick your legs over your head.
Bring your legs together over your head once your hands are on the ground. Your momentum should keep them moving fast. Keep them pressed together, similar to a handstand.
Bend your hips so your feet hit the ground together. As your feet land on the floor, your arms and upper body should come up so that you are nearly in a standing position.
Rebound after your round-off. The force of the skill should provide you with the strength and momentum to jump up again after your feet hit the floor. You will need this rebound after your round-off to incorporate a back tuck into your tumbling pass.
The Back Tuck
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your arms over your head.
Bend your knees and drop your arms behind you. Raise them up again quickly, providing the momentum you will need to do a full flip backwards.
Jump as you raise your arms back up. Use your arms to achieve height and let your legs propel your body upwards as you prepare to flip.
Bring your legs up as you jump. Bend both knees. Some tumblers like to grab their legs behind their knees as they begin to flip in the air, to help their bodies complete the circle required in the back tuck.
Look for the floor as you complete the rotation in the air. One you find the floor, you can guide your feet there, completing the back tuck.
Putting the Skills Together
Complete your round-off and instead of doing a rebound, allow your arms to come up and your body to lift off the floor.
Tuck your knees toward your chest and either keep your arms over your head, or grab your knees as you rotate.
Stick your landing by looking for the floor and raising your arms and chest as soon as you land.
Try practicing your back tucks on a trampoline or on a foam wedge mat if you are unable to do them from a standing position on the floor.
Have your spotter stand in the spot where you will finish your round-off, so she can support your back or shoulders as you complete the back tuck.
Do not attempt this skill if you have no experience with gymnastics or tumbling. You could land on your head and damage your neck. Before you do a round-off back tuck, you should be able to do a round-off back handspring.
Cari Oleskewicz is a writer and blogger who has contributed to online and print publications including "The Washington Post," "Italian Cooking and Living," "Sasee Magazine" and Pork and Gin. She is based in Tampa, Florida and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and journalism from Marist College.