I got an interesting question over the weekend which brought back memories of my training days, and the challenges I had to face. Check it out below…

Dear Coach Sahil,

I wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog! I’ve read all your articles and they’re so easy to understand that I can’t get enough. I hope you always keep writing. (don’t mind the fan girl moment lol)

But I’m having a problem that’s been on going for the past few months, and I hope you can help me…  I’m not seeing any progress in my tumbling no matter how hard I train. It’s not a mental block or anything, I have no trouble doing the skills I have such as a round off back handspring tuck and I even learnt my layout but it’s just not landing. And it hasn’t been landing for the past couple months. Sometimes I over rotate or sometimes I under rotate or other times its like some ugly pike. Ugh! I wish I could SnapChat it to you but I don’t think I’d have the courage.

Then on top of that my coach tells me I have to back handspring faster and again, I’m trying and I think I’m making progress but when I film it, it all looks the exact same! It’s so frustrating that I feel like I’m never meant to be a level 4 tumbler. What am I doing wrong?

Please help. Thank you!

– Jess

If you’ve ever felt this way and can relate to what Jess is saying, give me a silent nod, because as I was reading her question, old memories where I was frustrated working the same skill over and over just came rushing back.

So needless to say, I’ve been there!

What Jess is experiencing is something known as a plateau – and it’s not unique to tumbling.

Powerlifters experience plateaus where they train and train but still can’t lift any more weight then they could a few months ago.

Runners can sometimes be stuck at the same 100m sprint times for months. And tumblers can be stuck training one skill for a while, as well. So let’s see what we can do about this…

My Response

Dear Jess,

First of all, thanks for all the kind words! I don’t mind the fan girling at all – bring it on! Inspirational comments from awesome readers such as yourself is what keeps me motivated to write articles, and I hope that today, I can help you land that darn layout (or even get a full twist). Feel free to SnapChat it over as a proud moment.

But before that happens, what we need to address is your mentality when it comes to training. All other technical stuff like corrections will all fall into place once we set your mind right.

Now, do you want to hear a secret?

Even when you think you aren’t making progress, you actually are. The problem is that the progress is so small, it’s hard to measure it visually.

Water drop in a bucket

Let me put this another way. Pretend that every tumbling skill you want to learn is represented by a bucket – and every time you fill up that bucket with water, you gain that skill.

So currently you have something called a “layout bucket” which is waiting to be filled, and once it’s filled, you’ll have your layout.

But here’s the challenging part: you can only fill your bucket one drop at a time.

Now I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to fill up an entire bucket one drop at a time, but you can probably imagine that it’s a time consuming process. Furthermore, what happens when the bucket is dry and empty, and you initially start pouring the drops in?

Well, you can visually see the water accumulate at the bottom, and you’re like, “Hey, I’m making good progress here!”

But what happens when the bucket is half full, and you pour in another drop?

Do you even notice? Can you even tell that the water level has changed?

Of course not! The change is so small, that it seems insignificant, but it’s not – you’ve actually trained your brain to be just a little bit better than it was before.

Now here is the key: Even thought you can’t see the progress in the bucket, by pouring in an extra drop you are closer to filling it up today, then you were yesterday. 

Does that make sense?

I hope so. Just remember that every day you train, regardless of how well you think you’re doing, another drop of skill is being poured into you tumbling bucket.

As long as you don’t quit, drop by drop it’ll add up. And before you know it, you’ll be landing those layouts like nobody’s business.

I can tell you with confidence that when athletes usually give up or quit, 90% of the time they are just a few drops away from achieving what they wanted.

They quit when success was right around the corner and if they’d just stuck with it, they would now have the tumbling pass they wanted. So don’t be one of these athletes.

I hope that helps. Keep training hard, because I can bet that your layout is just around the corner!

Enjoyed this article?

Please be sure to share this to your fellow friends and athletes – they may be suffering from a plateau and you might just save them weeks or months worth of stress and frustration!

Image Credit: © Pete McArthur/Corbis

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