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How to Do a Back Handspring in Cheerleading

Tumbling has become an essential component of cheerleading and adds difficulty and athleticism to the sport. The back handspring is one of the basic tumbling skills that every cheerleader should know. It serves as the foundation for running tumbling, as well as the more difficult tumbling maneuvers.

If you follow these basic steps and practice often, you will be able to add a back handspring to your tumbling arsenal in no time.

What You Will Need:

  • Mats
  • A spotter
  • Athletic shoes
  • A tumbling instructor
Warm Up

Always warm up before attempting any sort of tumbling.

  • Jog or move around for 5-10 minutes.
  • Next, thoroughly stretch your legs, back and arms, holding each position for at least 20 seconds.
  • After you have stretched, do a few back bends (also called bridges). You can do a back bend from a standing position or from the ground. Put both your hands and your feet on the ground and arch your back into the air. This will stretch out your back and get you ready for the back handspring.
  • Finish warming up with a few round-offs to get your entire body ready to move.

Getting Started

  • Start standing up on the balls of your feet, with your body completely straight. Your arms should be stretched over your head, like you are reaching for the ceiling.
  • Keep your hands straight, head forward, and make sure your arms are slightly touching your ears.

Pushing Off

  • From the standing position, bend into a sitting posture while transferring your weight from the balls of your feet to your heels.
  • At the same time, swing both arms down to your hips and slightly bend your back in the sitting position. A powerful arm swing is essential to gain the proper momentum necessary to successfully complete a back handspring.
  • The arm swing and the sitting position must occur simultaneously to create a controlled, fluid movement.

The Jump

  • As you lean back into the chair position, swing your arms back up towards your ears and jump backwards. The more powerful your arm swing is, the stronger your backward motion will be.
  • It is important to remember to jump backwards and not upwards.
  • While jumping backwards, ALWAYS keep your arms straight. Your arms keep your head from hitting the ground, so keep them locked out at all times.

Hot Tip: Don't Look Back

While jumping into your back handspring, keep your head straight forward the entire time. It is natural to want to look back so you can see where you are going, but this will throw off the alignment of your jump and may also cause you to fall on your head. It may be scary at first, but trust your technique and keep your head forward.

Staying in Position

  • Once in the air, keep your arms straight and body tight—your legs should be locked out from the moment you jump from the sitting position. The aim is to jump backwards so that your back is in the bridge position that you practiced prior to tumbling.
  • Your hands will be the first thing to hit the ground, but only briefly before you whip your legs back over. When they do land, your palms should be flat on the ground with your fingers facing your feet.

  • As you come out of the bridge position, your body will be in a handstand with arms and legs locked out.
  • As your feet near the ground, you will need to push off of the mats with your hands, releasing contact with the ground, while bringing your chest up so that you can land in a standing position.
  • After you push off the ground with your hands—which is basically a strong shrug of the shoulders—you will be airborne for only a moment before your feet hit the ground.
  • Keep your legs and back straight as you land.
  • You should end in the same position in which you began with your body in a straight line.

Hot Tip: Practicing the Push

One of the trickiest parts of learning how to do a back handspring is mastering the push that is required once your hands make contact with the ground. To practice this motion, do a handstand and work on pushing your hands off the ground, so that you are hopping with your hands. You will quickly learn the technique needed to propel yourself backwards with your shoulders and hands.


Practice Before You Leap

Learning how to do a back handspring is critical for any cheerleader who wants to increase their skill level and overall versatility in the sport. It is an attainable skill, but it takes practice and patience. Remember to always use a spotter when tumbling until you are completely comfortable doing it on your own.

The back handspring is one of the basic tumbling skills that every cheerleader should know. This guide breaks the skill down for you in easy-to-learn steps.
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