A front walkover is one of the few front tumbling skills that are used in cheerleading. In lower levels, it is used as one of the main tumbling skills, later it is a skill we add to a tumbling pass, and in higher levels it is mostly used as a transitional skill in formation changes.
To get this skill we need three things:
Flexibility – Shoulders and back
Strength – knee extensors, hip extensors, core, shoulders
Technical knowledge – understanding how to enter and hold a handstand will give us two thirds of the required knowledge.
This is one of the basic skills and it requires some time to develop the necessary strength and flexibility. Between this skill, a handstand, and a back bend kickover, it should take 2-3 years to develop the proper technique of those skills before mastering them. After we MASTER (not just execute) these three skills we are set to move fast through the rest of the tumbling skills. The habits we will develop in these three skills are the habits we will keep through the skills following; it is imperative to create good habits and not bad habits.
Here is how we do it:
Part 1 – Falling into a lunge
This part is identical to going into a handstand (and later into a round off), we start in a straight line with our arms behind our ears, chest in a neutral position and our belly button pulled in to straighten the line in our lower back. From this starting position we will let our bodies fall forward and in the last moment place our foot under our chest. Activating the front leg late in the fall will prevent us from lifting the front leg up too high causing us to lean backwards. When passing through the lunge, we will keep our arms behind our ears, chest will stay in a neutral position and our belly button will be pulled in.
Part 2 – Push
This part will be very similar to going into a handstand with one small difference. From a lunge, we will pass through the broken T, and stay in that position until our hands hit the ground. Once our hands hit the ground, we will extend the back leg and push forward. Up until now, this was the same as pushing into a handstand. After the back leg leaves the ground, we will not stop in a straight line like we would for a handstand, but instead we will let our chest and core open a bit. It is very important to keep tension in our core through this part, even though we are opening our core, we need to keep it engaged.
Part 3 – Flipping over
Here, our hips will pass over our hands and that is the flipping part. Throughout the flip we will continue opening our chest, core and hips. Our goal is to create a circular shape with our body – round shapes roll, square shapes do not. In order to be able to “roll” out of the front walkover, we need to opens our shoulders and chest (we need to have strong and flexible shoulders for this part or we can get injured) and we need to bring our front foot as close to our hands as possible (that part will require lower back flexibility). Our goal is to get our foot behind our hips, so we can push them forward and stand up. If our foot lands in front of our hips, we will be pushing them back and that will prevent us from standing up.
Part 4 – Standing up
After our foot hits the ground behind our hips, we will maintain this open position and wait until the weight in front of the foot and the force we created when we pushed forward pulls us up. In this part it is crucial to maintain an open position – arms behind our ears, chest as open as possible and our core open but engaged. Front leg needs to stay lifted and we should be reaching out with it, which will allow us to land in a nice long lunge. Landing in a long lunge is very important since we want to create a habit of landing in a position that would allow us to push forward into a cartwheel or round off.
Parts of a front walkover are the same as a round off. Entering a handstand, a cartwheel, a front walkover and roundoff are the same. We suggest learning a front walkover before we learn the roundoff and learning it this way will allow us to master a round off faster. And learning a round off is probably the most important thing in tumbling, after all we use it in almost every running tumbling pass.