In the past three months, I have had to chance to speak with the military, college teams and high school coaches. Since I write and publish a lot, the leadership in these groups often adopt some of my ideas like Quadrants, “Can You Go,” the 1-2-3-4 assessment and the movement structure of Intervention.


There is one thing I have been getting a lot of emails about: tumbling. At my Houston talk, one coach said: “Dan talked a lot about tumbling, but didn’t show us any!”


Forgive me for not cartwheeling in a suit and tie. Next time I meet this person, I will show them how to take a fall.


Not long ago, I wrote this on the Dragondoor site. Here

What Goes Around, Comes Around: Tumbling and Training | Dragon Door


Shamrock’s book gives one a very nice foundation. Is it perfect? Well, no, but it is the basics and I think that is where we need to start.


I start the process of floor slapping. Basically, lay on your back, hold your chin on your sternum and slap the mat. Soon, roll back and forth and this was the foundation of breakfalling that I was taught in the 1960.


I like to get moving. Don’t worry about these names, you can certainly figure them out, but we go back and forth across the mats doing these movements.

Bear Crawls

Frog Jumps

Spiderman crawls

G I Joe Crawls


This gets the heart rate up, conditions the athlete for groundwork and lays a foundation for what’s next. I teach tumbling with the thought that the earth is spinning fast underneath us and we are just wheels. It seems to help


I begin in the Six Point position, tuck the neck, push with the feet…and hope for the best. Tumbling, like everything takes a few weeks to learn and a long time to master. These are the basics:


Forward Rolls

Shoulder Rolls R/L

Cartwheels R/L and variations

Monkey Roll, the old football drill


Shoulder rolls in combination with Cartwheels have a great value. It teaches movement at various levels and collision sports (and occupations) need this skill.


From there, we move to the world of stands. With many of the stands, we approach them from different positions and always practice rolling out of the loss of balance. You can certainly find these in books or the internet:


Toadstool stand




We then progressed to the Stick drills from “Inside the Lion’s Den.” We also included Leap Frogs and lots of combinations of anything that we could think of in the moment.


This was all great. Later, we moved a Tumbling Mat in the weightroom and began training like this:


Front Squat

Bench Press

Hurdle Walkover

Tumbling Drill (Sh R/L; Cartwheel R/L)

Power Clean…


LIke this:

The collected JDCHS Workouts


At first, we were able to tumble two to three times a month at JD. Later, we added the mat in the gym and moved up to the movements about twice a week. I’m not sure much more would help the sports we were coaching. Tumbling has an interest prophylactic quality when it comes to injury prevention: one rolls with the ground instead of driving into it. Shoulder injuries were cut back drastically and players popped up off the ground much faster.


So, yes, tumbling can contribute to wins…if done in a basic, progressive manner and given the time for some level of mastery.



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