Sports

What Power Tumbling Is and What It Is Not

Power Tumbling

Tumbling is, by definition, a series of acrobatic skills performed in succession. And as much as I respect people’s rights to call themselves anything, it’s important to clarify what power tumbling is and what it is not. 

I’ll clarify here that I don’t want to disrespect anyone who uses the term Power Tumbling in reference to their disciplines. However, that term points to a particular sport, a sport, may I add, that has been around for decades and currently enjoys world-class status. 

Nevertheless, I know some will take offence to what follows. 

What Power Tumbling Is and What It Is Not
Kristof Willerton of Great Britain

What Power Tumbling Is Not

Let’s work in reverse and start with what the sport is not. 

Cheerleading, tricking, backyard tumbling, and artistic gymnastics are not Power Tumbling. And though the amount of power required to perform the skills that make up the sports mentioned above is impressive, they do not fall under the label I clarify here. 

Again, call yourself what you will, but tagging your posts on social media as Power Tumbling when that’s not what you do, is misleading. The same applies to gymnastics. Lifting weights or posing shirtless in front of your mum’s washroom mirror doesn’t qualify you as a gymnast. 

On that note, I’ll also clarify that I think Cheerleading is a great sport. And while the discipline’s approach to Tumbling often leaves much to be desired, the stunting work these athletes perform deserves respect. 

Take a look at it if you haven’t already; their skills are worth Olympic status. 

What Power Tumbling Is

Power Tumbling is a sport that combines some mechanics of the Artistic Gymnastics floor exercise with the dynamics of Trampoline. 

While the sport of Trampoline is an Olympic event, Power Tumbling is not. The sport currently enjoys world-class status taking centre stage every four years at the World Games. 

“The World Games are an international multi-sport event comprising sports and sporting disciplines that are not contested in the Olympic Games. They are usually held every four years, one year after a Summer Olympic Games, over the course of 11 days.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Games

The 2022 World Games are happening from July 7th to the 17th in Birmingham, Alabama. 

World Games 2022

Equipment

Participants in this sport perform routines or passes down a Rod Floor (sometimes called a Moscow floor or the track) consisting of 5 to 8 elements depending on the competitive level and geographical location. 

Wikipedia accurately describes the track as being 25 metres (82 ft) long by 2 metres (6.6 ft) wide with a height of no more than 30 centimetres (12 in).

Competitive tracks require a ten meters-long (33 ft) run-up area and a landing zone of 6 metres (20 ft) long by 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide with a thickness of 30 centimetres.

Here is the legend Rayshine Harris competing in 1994.

Rayshine Harris

Traditionally called Power Tumbling, FIG or the International Gymnastics Federation, governs the sport and falls under the Trampoline Gymnastics umbrella. 

Scoring, Execution, and Difficulty

Scoring in Power Tumbling is mainly based on execution or the performance of the skills in a routine or pass. 

Participants start with a score of 10, and a judges’ panel deducts from that score for every fault in performance. For example, bent knees and flexed feet merit execution deductions when they should be straight and pointed. 

Landing and rhythm break deductions are often heavy, with the latter implying possible termination of a pass or disqualification. 

The structure of the judges’ panel also varies from country to country but follows FIG rules for international competitions. I’ve uploaded a copy of the FIG code of points here, should you want to know more about it. 

Another part of the scoring system in Power Tumbling is the degree of difficulty, or what we refer to as D.D. The D.D of a pass is calculated by adding the predetermined value of each skill in the pass. 

Here is a table of common elements and their degree of difficulty value. 

ElementDifficulty
Round‐off (0.1
Flic‐flac/Back Handspring F0.1
Whipback (tempo salto) ^0.2
Back somersault (ss) – o0.5
Back ss with 1/1 twist 2.0.9
Double back somersault – – o2.0
Half out (backwards) – 1 o2.2
Full in back out 2 – o2.4
Full in Full out 2 2 o3.2
Triple back – – – o4.5
Degree of Difficulty is determined by the amount of twists and flips in the skill. Bonuses are awarded for positions and landings.

Here is a copy of the Trampoline Gymnastics code of points 2022 to 2024 for a complete list of D.D values.


History and Conclusion

The history of Tumbling is unclear, but records concerning acrobatic movements date back to the early Romans, who used it as military training, and Ancient Greece. 

With the foundation of FIG – known as the European Gymnastics Federation at the time – Tumbling became an official international sport. However, Tumbling remained under the governance of the International Trampoline Federation until 1999. 

While it is not currently an Olympic sport, the 1932 Summer Games included Power Tumbling as an official, albeit an exclusively men’s event. It was recorded during subsequent years by the Olympic Organizing Committee that Power Tumbling would be removed from the roster to emphasise the artistic gymnastics floor exercise. 

Tumbling has been a part of the World Games since 1981.


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There you have it. And I know there is much more to say about the sport of Power Tumbling. The sport’s rules are intricate and in place to provide safe and fair play. 

Rember that the term Power Tumbling refers to a specific sport with a long and rich history; please use its name correctly. 

Thank you for reading.

Coach José

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Coach Jose

A coach amongst many other cool things.

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