Jordan_Sugrin_WhipThere are a lot of tumbling skills that can look elegant and pretty when performed correctly. But above all,¬†I’d say that whip backs take the cake as the prettiest.

But only when done right. See, whips are finicky little buggers because they¬†can go from looking stunning to ratchet at a moment’s notice. Their execution has to be on point!

So in order to¬†create the best guide possible, I knew I’d have to find someone who could execute the drills (and the whips themselves) flawlessly.

Due to the tendonitis in my knees, I gave up on doing whips¬†on anything other than a Tumble Trak, so this “someone” was definitely not going to be me.

After searching for a good 3 minutes, I found the athlete I was looking for (I know, my life is so hard).

jordan_cheerdietAllow me to introduce Jordan Sugrim, a Canadian Powertumbler who arguably has some of the best-looking whips in the world Рand that is no exaggeration.

International Powertumbling judges are, as you’d imagine, a hard bunch to please.

Yet most of the time, Jordan receives a grand total of zero deductions when it comes to her whips. Or to put it in simpler terms, her whips are certified perfection.

Besides having amazing whips, here are some of Jordan’s other accomplishments:

  • 1st Canadian female to land a full-full straight in a competition
  • 2nd at 2007 Worlds (15-16 age group)
  • Team Bronze at 2009 World Championships (Canada)
  • 2009 Senior National Champion
  • 2015 National Tumbling Champion
  • Gold at the 2014 Pan Am Gymnastics Championships
  • Gold at the 2014 World Cup in Belarus

So I guess you could say Jordan is more than qualified to show us how it’s done. I want to take a second to thank her for helping me put this guide together (also, shout outs to her amazing coach Denis Vachon). If you want to show Jordan some love, drop a few lines in the comment section below!

Quick Warning: Please make sure that you do not attempt the techniques you see below without the professional supervision of a coach. Jordan or myself take take no responsibility if you hurt yourself. Train smart.

Prerequisites Needed

In cheerleading, whips are a level 4 skill, and as such there are certain prerequisites you should not only have, but have mastered. I’ve listed the ones I deem most appropriate below, but you or your coach can make the final call. If you’re a powertumbler¬†or gymnast you’ve probably already started working on whips, so this guide will help you get the edge over your competition.

  • Continuous RO BHS’s (I’d say at least 5)
  • Continuous standing BHS’s (at least 3)
  • Back tuck (standing and/or from RO BHS)
  • Layout (This is a personal preference of mine, but not necessary. I¬†learnt a good layout before nailing down my whips. The problem I’ve noticed with those who learn whips before a good layout is that their layouts end up looking very “whippy” or “arched”. However, I’ve seldom seen anyone who has a solid layout have trouble picking up whips)

Whips For PowerTumbling vs Whips For Cheer/Gymnastics

If you’re a Powertumbler, you have¬†a strip that’s 84 feet long to work with. On top of that,¬†the rod floor also gives more bounce than a standard sprung floor, which means you should¬†aim to make your whips longer and lower.

But if you’re a cheerleader¬†or gymnast, then you know that space is a luxury, and that the floor isn’t nearly as “giving”, so your¬†whips will need to be higher and loopier. This will allow¬†you to put a greater number of whips together, giving space for a more complex tumbling pass.

While the techniques and drills you’ll learn in this tutorial can be applied to both types of athletes, it is up to you to adapt them to suit your needs.

Terminology Guide

  • RO = Round Off
  • BHS = Back Handspring
  • SBHS = Standing Back Handspring
  • BT = Back Tuck

Phase 1: Trampoline/TumbleTrak Work

If you’ve never done the whip before, the first place to start is on the trampoline. If you don’t have access to one, it is possible to start at drill #2 on the Tumble Trak but I don’t recommend it. The reason for using the trampoline is quite obvious – it gives you extra airtime to really think about your positions. In a whip back, this is vital.

Your Arm Position

You’ll see plenty of different hand/arm positions depending on which tumbler you look at, or which coach you talk to. Personally, I’ve played around with all the positions (wide, narrow, wrists in, wrists out etc.). After talking with Jordan, along with many other coaches, the verdict on which one to pick is simple: do what works best for you.¬†If you’re reading this guide I’ll assume you’re new to whips so I suggest doing the arm drills exactly the way Jordan does them… for now. Then once you become competent, you can choose what you feel works best.

Drill #1: Whip From Rebound (50 reps)

This is the very first drill I have all my athletes do. If you don’t have access to a trampoline, I highly suggest you find one. If that’s not possible then you can skip and start at drill #2 but I don’t recommend it. Here are some key points to remember:

  • You want your toes as far in front as possible before take off while keeping your legs tight. Let the trampoline do the work, do not try and “jump” into it
  • Your arm speed and position is¬†very important. You’ll notice that before take off, Jordan already has her arms up by her ears
  • Once she whips her arms back, they go out to the side, then they come right back up
  • Always finish in a hollow body rebound position
  • When you’re new, you will most likely be too high. Every few reps, try and reduce the height of your whips (without sacrificing length)

Drill #2: RO To Hollow Rebound With Arm Slams (20 reps)

The goal of this drill is to teach you the proper feet position so that you can have the perfect AOT (Angle Of Takeoff) for your whips, along with teaching you the importance of arm speed. Think about snapping your feet under so they contact the Tumble Trak with legs directly out in front. If you do this drill correctly, it should launch you backwards without much effort.

Drill #3: RO to High BHS (30 Reps)

It is often said that a whip is basically a higher BHS. And that’s not too far from the truth, which is why this happens to be the very next drill you want to focus on. The idea behind it is that once you get comfortable, you should be able to remove the mat and maintain that height.

Once you get good at this, a progression you can use would be to add another crash mat on top. If you’re a PowerTumbler, don’t go any higher. For cheerleaders and gymnasts though,¬†you can add a third mat while still focusing on length. As we discussed earlier, a slightly loopier whip is beneficial for these athletes.

Drill #4: RO Whip Back on TumbleTrak (50 reps)

Now comes the time where we put it all together and attempt the whip. I’ll be honest with you – the 50 reps is actually a very conservative number. I’d prefer you actually do 100, but I also know that not everyone has that sort of time commitment. If you focus on the other drills listed here and practice them to perfection (remember the P3 system) then your technique should stay sound.

But be sure to come back to this one, as it’s what I like to call an evergreen drill. This means it will always be useful. I know many top-level athletes that do it as part of their warm up to keep their technique as sharp as possible.

Drill #5: RO Whip to Hollow Jump Back (30 reps)

Once you’ve mastered the single whip, it’s time to work on the connection. It doesn’t matter if you want to connect a whip to a BHS or another Whip, you still need to work on getting your toes under and in front of you. Just like drill #2, if you do this correctly then the jump back should happen almost effortlessly.

Drill #6: RO 2x Whips To Jump Back (50 reps)

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Drill #7: RO Whip to BHS Connection (50 reps)

This used to be one of my favorite connections in tumbling. It’s equal parts scary, exciting and gives you a ridiculous amount of power for your end skill.

Drill #8: Handstand Snapdown 2x Whips (30 reps)

This is a great drill to do near the end of your training session since it replaces the RO, thus help you save the limited amount of energy you have and using it for the skill in question. You can also work handstand snapdown to single whips if the earlier drills aren’t possible due to space issues. However, don’t make this your bread and butter drill.

Drill #9: Handstand Snapdown To Continuous Whips (30 reps)

Once you can do 2 whips, it’s very likely that doing 3 or more shouldn’t be much of an issue. One common problem you’ll find is that your whips start to change the more you do (much like how your BHS’s get sloppier when you’re new). This drill is a great way to bring out those mistakes and fix them. It also tests your “tumbling endurance”. Anyone can have perfect body positions during the first or second skill in a series, but can you maintain the tightness when more skills are added?

Drill #10: Standing BHS to Whip (20 reps)

This is a great drill that will help you develop a tonne of power. One of my favorite progressions is to do standing BHS into multiple whips down the TumbleTrak. Another great use for this drill is if you don’t have access to a full-length TumbleTrak. Just practice this as often as possible. As always, have your coach watch the height of your whips – it’s very easy to become “loopy” while doing this.

Drill #11: Rebound Tuck into Whip Connection (20 reps)

This is one of my favorites as it really allows you the time needed to get those feet in front, and rebound back with tonnes of power without using up a lot of space, such as with the RO entry. Think of it as a more advanced version of Drill #1. Also, it’s a great drill if you’re working advanced or creative tumbling passes such as:

  • RO > Layout > Whip etc.
  • RO > BHS > Full > Whip etc.
  • RO > Full > Whip > Double full

Note: Initially, doing this connection can be a bit scary, so get a spot and/or use safety mats. Some of the common mistakes you’ll make are

  • Not snapping feet in enough (resulting in a loopy/awkward whip)
  • Snapping in the feet too much (resulting in a whip where you almost kiss the TumbleTrak)
  • Forgetting about your arms (resulting in a whip where you only use your head)
  • Not tucking high enough (you need LOTS of air time to get this going)

I highly suggest you take care of these issues first, because they’ll pay off when you move on to drill #12.

Drill #12: Rebound Tuck Into Whip Series (30 reps)

I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT move on to this drill, until you’ve perfected the initial BT to whip connection.

Drill #13: RO BHS Whip (30 reps)

You may scale the number of reps of this drill depending on the pass you’ll eventually be working. Also note that you should ideally add a rebound jump back after so be sure to mark your starting point accurately.

Drill #14: RO Whip to End Skill (30 reps)

One of the reasons I’ve put this drill much later down the chain, is because when you’re new to whips, working the snap down position and (having your feet in front) is very important. However, to get height for end skills, we obviously need to block (feet behind us). If you stayed true to the prerequisites then you already know how to block from a BHS for your end skills. Thus, a RO > WHIP > BHS > Layout should be much easier to get. But once your whips become competent, then you can start working on blocking and going into end skills directly. Another reason is that block from a whip is very physically demanding on your knees and ankles (compared to a block from a BHS). So if you’ve done all the reps and prerequisites then it’s highly likely that by the time you reach drill #14, you’re a pretty well-conditioned athlete.

Drill #15: Rebound BT to Whip Series + End Skill (20 reps)

Now we start combining earlier drills to produce somewhat of a tumbling pass that you can use. Ideally you should stick to a layout for now so you can really focus on the quality of your whips, but I asked Jordan to do something fancy for your entertainment ūüôā

Note: Bonus points if you know what end skill she did and can be the first to correctly post it in the comment section below!

Phase 2: Floor Work

You might be wondering if you need to do all the drills in Phase 1 before starting Phase 2, and the answer is: of course not. Some of the drills listed in Phase 2 can be done simultaneously in the same week, while others can overlap on the same day. Either is totally fine (especially if you don’t have access to all the gym equipment). This guide is a best-case scenario. However, I wouldn’t start doing whips on floor until you’ve mastered Drills #1-5. Those are the bare minimum requirements.

A few KEY points to remember when you transition to the floor:

  • Get a spot for your first 5 reps. Yes, even if they’re going into a pit. This is to ensure that if you go too low, your spotter can give you the boost in height needed. Trust me, you do not want to find out the hard way what happenes when you whip way too low. Ask me how I know :\
  • Condition your face off. Have I harped on this enough yet? No? Well I’m telling you again. Your weakness will be punished.
  • You will get shin splints if you’re new to whips.¬†So suck it up. But the difference will be in how much pain you feel. Shin splits can range from mild annoyance and discomfort (for strong athletes) to “holy crap I can’t walk to school”¬† for those that ignored my advice in point number two.
  • Don’t try and be a hero. Sure you could muscle and huck your way through multiple whips on floor, but they’ll look like the stock market back in 2008 (not a pretty sight). Just as with the TumbleTrak drills, start with one, master it, then work your way up.
  • TumbleTrak drills are interchangeable. You’ll notice most of the floor drills below are just an extension of the ones we did on TumbleTrak. The reason I’ve posted them is so you can see what the final product looks like, along with how much speed, power and effort you should expect to putting into your whips.
  • Two sets of reps. If you weren’t able to have access to a TumbleTrak and do all the drills above, then to make up for that volume of training, I’ve listed a second set of reps, listed on the right. This is useful for athletes that almost exclusively work on floor (you’ll just have to get creative on how to set things up).

With that said, let’s take a look at the floor drills…

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Drill #16: RO Rebound In Hollow Position (20/50 reps)

Power and speed are your friend. Also, this is a great time to really clean up your RO (especially if your feet aren’t coming together fast enough). Any little inefficient movement or awkwardness in your RO will rob you of power, and this is the last thing we want while doing whips.

Drill #17: RO To High BHS (30/70 reps)

Out of all the drills, this should feel the most natural since you’re probably used to doing BHS’s in your sleep. Here’s a pro tip: Exaggerate your first 3 reps so you go sky-high, almost like a terrible, arched layout. Then start lowering it till it looks like the way Jordan demonstrated.


Because 9/10 athletes that do this go much too low, thinking it should feel similar to their current BHS. What ends up happening is fingers get jammed, faces eat mat, and I get a belly full of laughter. So avoid the pain and embarrassment and take my word of advice.

Drill #18: RO Whip Into Pit (50/100 reps)

It’s all coming together now! After doing 17 drills, there’s not much left to say besides trust the work you’ve put in, go into your RO entry with lots of power, lots of tightness, and let your muscle memory take over. If you’re too scared to do this drill, you haven’t been spending enough time on the earlier drills for the given reps.

Drill #19: Handstand Whip Rebound (30/70 reps)

If your gym cannot afford a TumbleTrak, then a mini-tramp is probably the next best investment. For those that are learning whips, I consider this drill essential. So put together a fundraiser, and scrounge together the amount of cash necessary to get one. It’s well worth the investment. This is a great drill for many reasons:

  • Can be done at the end of practices and doesn’t need all of your energy
  • Doesn’t take up too much space compared to a running RO entry
  • The mini tramp is powerful enough to let you do 2-3 whips or BHS connections
  • It’s a helluva lot of fun; it’s one of my favorites, hands down (ok, so I’m only slightly biased)

If you’re new to this drill, please work with a coach or a partner you trust. While it’s fun and exhilarating, it can also be dangerous, which is why I’ve thrown it near the end.

Drill #20: RO Whip Rebound Into Pit (100/200 reps)

Don’t let the high number of reps scare you – I’ve specifically designed it that way so it builds good habits. Trust me, if you can manage to do 200 reps in as short of a time as possible (weeks instead of months) then you will have great-looking whips for life!

Drill #21: RO Whip-Whip Connection (100/200 Reps)

And last but not least, we end off with two whips connected back-to-back. If you’ve done the required reps above, then by this point in your training you’ll start to “feel” your own mistakes such as feet position, arm position, head position, whip height and so on. And almost nothing can replace the “feel” of doing the perfect skill because that gets embedded deep into your brain. If you haven’t read the formula on how to attain skills quickly, then be sure to read up on that article here (you’ll also get insights as to why I recommend so many reps).

What’s Next?

tumblingcoach_snapchatWell first of all, I would LOVE to know your thoughts on this guide, so please leave a comment below. I’ll also check periodically should you have any questions bout the drills.

As you can imagine, there was a tremendous amount of work put into this guide so sharing with your friends on social media would also mean a lot. A lot of you have emailed me about doing similar guides on skills such as the layout full, double full, standing full, Arabians etc.

And believe me, they are coming! If you would like to support this site further, then a premium edition of the guide is available for purchase below. I’ve included some extra Bonuses that I wasn’t able to upload to YouTube and I hope you enjoy it!

Send Me Your Drills!

Nothing makes me happier than when athletes put good my guides to good¬†use. So if you want to show me how you’re coming along. The easiest way to do this is to add me on Snapchat: tumblingcoach¬†(I do my best to respond to everyone!)

Enjoyed This Guide? Why Not Download The Premium Edition?

Here’s what you get:

  • Download all video drills for use on phone/tablet/laptop
  • 5 BONUS drills from Jordan (filmed in HD Slow-Motion)
  • Read the guide in PDF format (works offline on phones/tablets)
  • Ability to do High-Quality printing
  • The lovely fuzzy feeling of supporting this site¬†(so I can keep it ad-free!)

Only $15 …¬†$7.99!


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