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Fundamental Gymnastics Skills: Trampoline, Balance Beam, and More

by sorin ciovica on June 19, 2024

Mastering Basic Gymnastic Movements

Flexibility is essential to gymnastics. Enhance your gymnastic skills by increasing your flexibility. Learn to properly warm up and stretch to allow your body to become fluid and flexible. Remember, you can master basic gymnastic movements while preventing injury.  Use a soft mat or AirTrack Mat to prevent injury. 


What is the Easiest Gymnastic Trick to Do?

Try a Straddle Sit Technique

While this is more of a "skill" than a "trick," it's a simple, beginner-friendly exercise that anyone can master. To do a straddle sit, sit on the ground with your hands flat on the floor and your feet spread apart. Separate your legs as much as you can until you're stretching comfortably.


1. Forward Splits

Start in a Standing Position with One Leg Forward

When preparing to get into a split stance, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward on your dominant foot, which will be the leg that goes forward in your split. It's best to practice doing the splits on a softer surface, such as carpet or a yoga mat. Avoid practicing on tile or hardwood if possible.


Extend Your Front Leg Out

Keeping your front leg straight, slowly slide it forward directly in front of you. Keep your stance controlled and tight; do not allow yourself to wobble or slip. To prevent your feet from sliding, take off your socks or try performing the splits on carpet flooring with your socks on.


Extend Your Back Leg Out

While your front leg is slowly extending, do the same with your back leg. Propel it outwards and straight behind you while staying upright and controlled. Once you begin to feel tightness in your thighs, refrain from stretching further to avoid injury. Use a small chair or table to help keep your balance as you lower yourself down if necessary.


Hold the Stretch

When your legs are both extended as far as they can go, pause and hold the stretch. Try counting to 15 or even 30. The point is for your body to learn to relax while in the splits pose. Rest your arms on a supportive chair, side table, or the ground if necessary. Remember, a stretch will cause discomfort but not pain. If you feel pain, stop immediately.


Ease Out of the Splits

Once you’ve held the stretch as long as possible, slowly ease up back onto your feet. After resting for a few moments, try again if you feel your body is capable. Take your time and focus on technique as you practice. Most people are not naturally flexible, so mastering the splits may take several months of practice. Be patient and don’t be discouraged if you feel that your flexibility is not improving quickly.


2. Standing Backbend

Place Your Arms Over Your Head

While standing, raise your arms straight into the air with your palms oriented towards the sky and fingers pointing behind you. This exercise is best learned with a friend nearby for support if necessary. Feel free to use a wall as you practice your backbends.


Arch Your Back and Move Down

Puff out your chest and slowly lower yourself backward towards the floor. Take your time and control your movement. Moving too fast can cause you to lose balance and fall. If you’re stuck, use a chair or table as halfway support until you’re confident in your ability to go all the way down. Bending all the way backward takes serious flexibility, so if you're stuck, get into a bridge and rock back and forth to help prepare for the standing bend.


Lock Your Arms and Hold

As you approach the ground, lock your arms to ensure that you don’t hit your head. After locking your arms, keep arching back until your hands are on the ground. Keep your stomach flexed and pointed tight to the ceiling as you hold the position. While in a backbend, keep your feet firmly planted and imagine your weight being distributed evenly on all four limbs to stay balanced.


Exit the Bend

Professionals can arch their way back up and out of a backbend, but you may find it easier to let your knees drop and unlock your arms. Tuck your head into your chin and cave your body to put you flat onto your back and safely on the floor.


3. Wall Handstand

Place Your Hands Flat on the Ground

Position your hands hip-distance apart with fingers pointing towards the wall, a couple of inches from it. Mentally prepare by visualizing the movement and focusing on your breathing. Keep your elbows and wrists locked strong to avoid falling on your face.


Lock and Fling Your Legs Up

Keep your back against the wall for stability. Lock your knees and kick them up. If you lean completely against the wall, engage your abdominal and arm muscles to keep your back strong.


Point Your Toes and Hold

Point your toes straight towards the sky and flex your ankles. If done correctly, the balls of your feet should be pointed towards the wall. Hold for as long as you can, and with time, your muscles will strengthen, allowing you to hold the handstand for longer periods. Keep your chin tucked into your chest and face towards the wall to protect your neck in case of a fall. Keep the rest of your body straight and strong.


Release and Come Down

Relax your ankles and swing your legs back towards the ground. Bend the knee in preparation for hitting the ground. Allow the blood to rush back to your head before trying again. Once you’ve mastered 8 reps of 30 seconds each, try moving away from the wall and doing a free-stand handstand.  Use a soft mat or AirTrack Mat to prevent injury. 


4. Trampoline Tricks

Perform a Tuck Jump

Jump as high as you can in the center of the trampoline. Keep your body straight and push through your arms overhead to maximize your strength. At the peak of your jump, touch your knees to your chest and hold. As gravity brings you down, kick your legs back out underneath you before landing back onto the trampoline.


Move on to the Straddle Jump

Jump on the center of the trampoline and push your legs straight underneath you. As you reach the peak of your jump, kick your legs forward and out so that they form a V in front of you. Bend your back and reach to your toes. As gravity brings you down, brace yourself by bringing your legs back together and forcing your hands to your sides.


Perform a Pike Jump

Pike Jump

Jump at the center of the trampoline and push through your legs and out through your arms. At the peak of your jump, your arms should be overhead and pointed towards the sky. Push your hands forward while you simultaneously bring your legs in front of you. Try to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. Bring your legs back down and arms to the side to brace yourself to land.


Combine Your Jumps

Generate more power with each successive jump and practice executing different jumps as your height increases. The more height you get, the easier it will be to focus on technique.


5. Balance Beam Basics

Mount the Balance Beam with Straight Legs

Balance Beam with Straight Legs

When you first get on the balance beam, place each leg on either side. Keep your toes pointed towards the ground and legs flexed. Create a straight line with your body and hands in front of you, holding the balance beam for support.


Move Right into Tuck Position

Tuck Position

Raise your knees to your chest, keeping your legs together and hands behind you holding the beam. Point your toes down and touch the beam. Hold this position for five seconds.


Perform a V Hold

V Hold

Create a V silhouette by crunching your abs and bracing yourself with your hands on the beam behind you. Point your toes with your legs at a 45-degree angle from the beam. Hold this pose for 5 seconds. Depending on your flexibility, this may take time to lean back and raise your legs to create a V shape.


Transition with a Donkey Kick and Finish

Donkey Kick

When straddling the beam, swing your feet back to get into a pushup position. Hold this position for five seconds, then walk your feet forward inch by inch, letting your toes hit the heel of the opposite foot. Once your feet touch your hands, move your hands slightly forward and perform a donkey kick with one leg. Gain your balance and stand up straight to finish.  Use a Airbeam AirTrack to prevent injury. 


6. Other Tricks

Do a Backflip


Also known as a back tuck, somi, or salto, a backflip is one of the most impressive and easily recognizable skills in gymnastics. Your body makes a 360-degree rotation, beginning and landing in a standing position.


Do a Back Handspring

Back Handspring

The back handspring is a basic building block for many gymnastic or cheerleading routines. To do a back handspring, fall backward, land upside-down on your hands, and push upwards to land back on your feet. Build up your upper body strength, especially in your arms and shoulders, and be comfortable doing a backbend, handstand, and back walkover.



Warm-ups gymnastics

Warm Up with Cardio

Warm up your muscles with 15 minutes of cardio. Whether you jog, run on a machine, or walk up stairs, make sure you loosen up your muscles, slowly working them up for more vigorous activity. Add squats, planks, knee jumps, or jumping jacks to increase the blood flow and intensity of your warm-up.


Form a Bridge to Stretch Your Back

Lay with your back on the floor, knees bent, feet planted, and hands palms down with fingers pointed at your feet. Create a bridge by lifting your back off the ground and pushing down through your palms and feet. Keep your elbows pointed at the ceiling and try to stretch your back as much as possible.


Stretch Your Lower Body with the Runner's Stretch

Take a step forward into a lunge position. Touch the ground with your fingertips or as low as they will allow. Inhale and slowly straighten the front leg, raising your butt. Exhale as you stretch the front leg, then lower yourself back into the lunge position. Stretch both sides at least 4 times each.


Stretch Your Upper Body with a Standing Side Stretch

From a standing position, reach your arms overhead, clasping your fingers together but keeping your pointer fingers out and extended. Inhale and stretch as long and as tall as you can while you simultaneously bend at the hip to one side. Breathe slowly and deeply for 5 seconds and return to a standing position with your arms overhead. Repeat on both sides of your body.



How Difficult is it to Do a One-Handed Cartwheel?

A one-handed cartwheel is more challenging than a standard cartwheel and requires a good amount of strength and balance. Start with a regular cartwheel and gradually practice lifting one hand off the ground.


How Do You Do a Backbend at Home?

Practice backbends at home by starting with bridges. Once comfortable, stand with your arms overhead, lean back, and lower your hands to the floor. Use a wall or a friend for support if needed.


How Can I Stop Being Scared of Doing Backwards Gymnastics Skills?

Gradually build confidence by practicing simpler backward movements, like back rolls, and using AirTrack Mats for extra safety. Visualization and deep breathing can also help reduce fear.


Will the Splits Hurt?

The splits can cause discomfort but should not cause sharp pain. If you feel pain, stop immediately. Gradual stretching over time will improve flexibility.


Are There Other Ways to Help Me Practice the Back Handspring Without a Trampoline?

Use a tumbling mat, or practice with a spotter or in a gymnastics class. Strengthening your core and upper body will also help.


How Do I Do a Balanced Handstand?

Practice against a wall first, focusing on engaging your core and maintaining a straight body line. Gradually move away from the wall as your balance improves.


How Do I Do a Front Handspring?

Start with a strong lunge, kick up into a handstand, and push off the ground with your hands while bringing your legs over. Practice on a soft surface and use a spotter if needed.


Which Type of Clothing Should I Wear When Doing Gymnastics?

Wear form-fitting, flexible clothing like leotards, athletic shorts, and fitted tops. Avoid loose clothing that could get caught or hinder movement.


Can You Do Gymnastics Tricks Without Equipment?

Yes, many basic gymnastics skills, like rolls, cartwheels, and handstands, can be practiced without equipment. Soft surfaces like AirTrack Mats or grass can make practice safer.


Do You Stretch Every Day and Go Lower Every Day?

Stretching daily can improve flexibility, but listen to your body and avoid overstretching. Gradually increase the intensity of your stretches to prevent injury.


How Do I Do a Kick Over?

From a bridge position, kick one leg over your body while pushing off with your hands. Practice bridging and kicking separately before combining the movements.


How Can I Stop Being Scared I Will Hit My Head?

Use a AirTrack Mat for practice, and have a spotter or use a wall for support. Building strength and confidence through gradual progressions will help reduce fear.


How Do I Do a Round Off?

Start with a strong lunge, perform a cartwheel, and snap your legs together at the top. Land with both feet together and facing the opposite direction from where you started.


How Do I Avoid Landing on My Head or Neck?

Ensure you have adequate strength and technique before attempting advanced skills. Practice with AirTrack Mats and spotters, and always prioritize safety.


Will Doing a Backflip Hurt?

A properly executed backflip should not hurt. Start with a spotter, use soft mats, or  AirTrack Mats  and build strength and confidence gradually.


If I Can't Do a Handstand, Can I Do Other Things?

Absolutely! Many gymnastics skills don't require a handstand. Focus on building strength, flexibility, and balance with other exercises and progressions.