Proprioception and its Relationship to Tumbling
The word proprioception means the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation. To have proper proprioception your sense of sight and other stimuli need to be instituted along with the inner ear and sensory receptors found within the muscles, tendons and joints.
We must institute the idea of spotting or using sight lines to provide the proper stimulus to our nervous system in order for our body to know where it is in space.
I want to go over the sight lines for a few basic tumbling skills. Remember where your head and eyes are is where you are moving to.
The first skill is the handstand. As you lunge into your handstand you should be looking at the end of the surface in front of you. As you lever to the floor you will see the floor but not your arms. If you see your arms in any way you have achieved an angle which means you will not have the proper power to do your handstand correctly. Your eyes should see the floor by looking up through your forehead and then focus on the side from which you started the handstand where you will land. Finally the eyes arrive looking in front of you as you finish the skill.
The second skill is any front walkover or front handspring skill. The focus should be again on the end of the surface in front of you , then as you tilt to the floor you can peek at your hands through your forehead as your arms remain behind your ears. Eyes remain focused on the hands throughout these skills.
The third skill is the back handspring. Again your eyes will look up through your forehead as the arms are by ears as they travel in one piece to the floor and snap up off the floor
The fourth skill is the back tuck. As you begin the back tuck your eyes focus on an object in front of you, then as shins and toes cover your vision you rotate, then focus on the landing surface for your skill.
The fifth skill is the round off. As you lunge into the round off your focus will be on the end of surface in front of you. As you go to the ground you will now look under your opposite armpit and then at the ground where you will land. Then finish with eyes straight ahead.
The sixth skill is the layout. As you set for the layout you focus on an object in front of you. As you move to horizontal see your toes as you look through them to a surface in front of you then when you are vertical you should see your toes meet the ceiling, then the surface behind you finally see the surface on which you will land.
The seventh skill is the full. The focus as you set into the skill is on object in front of you, then as you come to horizontal see surface above you, then as you see surface behind you pull for the full and look to your twisting shoulder. Then finally see the surface on which you land.
The eighth skill is the punch front. As you run for the tuck focus eyes first on where you will place your feet , then on surface in front of you slightly above shoulder line, then you will see the ground , lose sight for a second ending with eyes on landing surface, finally ending the skill with the focus in front of you again.
It is important to understand these sight lines so you are comfortable with the skill and aware at all times of what your body is doing. When you see where you are going there is less chance of blocking and injuries. Skills are perceived difficult only because we do not understand them. If an athlete understands exactly what his/her body is supposed to do and can use these sight lines throughout each skill, then the parts are simple and don’t seem as complex. Therefore balking and mental issues will become a thing of the past because they are created when the body becomes fearful or anxiety ridden over whether the athlete can complete the skill or not. This blocks the nervous system from sending the correct messages to the muscles to perform the skill producing a true physiological block . Practice using sight lines to thoroughly understand each of your skills.