What Tumbling Skills Do You Need for Cheerleading?

Two football players with cheerleaders, being sprayed with champagne

The tumbling skills required for cheerleading tryouts vary from squad to squad. A competitive squad may require more elite skills, such as a backflip or layout, while a squad that cheers at sporting events may not have specific tumbling requirements. Cheerleading has developed into an athletic sport over the years. Tumbling requires gymnastic ability and should be learned with proper mats and spotters.

Beginner Tumbling Skills

If the squad you're interested in requires tumbling skills and you're new to gymnastics, enroll in a beginner tumbling class to learn the basic elements of floor gymnastics. Beginner skills include front somersaults, handstands, back walkovers, cartwheels and round-offs. Cartwheels and round-offs are skills necessary to perform running tumbling passes. Back handsprings, back tucks and full-twisting layouts are performed out of the rebound of a round-off. Once you've perfected basic tumbling skills, you'll have the foundation to learn more difficult tricks.

Standing Tumbling

Many competitive and school cheerleading squads use standing tumbling in routines, cheers and chants. Standing tumbling can even be part of a stunt sequence. Most collegiate squads and many competitive squads require a standing back handspring as the minimum requirement from squad members during tryouts. More elite squads may require a standing back tuck. Although back handsprings and back tucks are the most common standing tumbling skills, some squad members may have the ability to perform a standing full-twisting layout. Standing tumbling may also consist of more than one trick, such as two back handsprings in a row or a standing back handspring into a back tuck.

Running Tumbling

Running tumbling sequences are often seen when cheerleaders take the field or court during a performance or during a competitive routine. Running sequences begin with a round-off into a series of one or more tricks. The most basic running tumbling pass is a round-off back handspring. Some squads require a basic tumbling pass, while others may ask for a series of two skills, such as a round-off back handspring into a back layout. Back tucks, layouts, full-twisting layouts and back handsprings can all be performed out of a round-off. Many cheerleaders who tumble, however, perform a round-off back handspring into a more difficult maneuver. Although competitive squads generally perform on a spring floor, most high school or collegiate squad requirements include tumbling on a gym floor.


Although tumbling has become a major part of cheerleading, it isn't always a required skill. If you are trying out for a squad that requires tumbling, talk to the coach to find out what specific skills are required. Practice with a coach to learn standing and running tumbling skills. If you're not confident about your ability to perform a backflip at tryouts, then don't try it. Performing a trick you haven't perfected can lead to serious injury.