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How to Do a Back Handspring

by sorin ciovica on May 31, 2024

The back handspring is a fundamental skill in gymnastics and cheerleading routines. It requires strong upper body strength, especially in the arms and shoulders. Before attempting a back handspring, ensure you can comfortably do a backbend, handstand, and back walkover. Practice with a spotter and on a trampoline until you can confidently perform a back handspring on the floor by yourself. Use a soft mat or AirTrack Mat to prevent injury. 

Perfecting Your Form

1. Bend Your Hips Forward and Swing Your Arms Down

Start by standing straight with your arms extended by your ears. Sit back as if you’re leaning into a chair, swinging your arms down and back. Your knees should be directly over your feet to generate enough momentum.

2. Push Through Your Toes and Lift Your Arms Up

Swing your arms forward over your head, following them with your eyes. Push through your toes to launch your body backward. Keep your legs together and core tight.

3. Fall Backwards Without Overarching

Avoid excessive arching, known as undercutting, to prevent injury and maintain form. Let your legs drive you upward and backward, pointing your toes and extending through your ankles. Keep your head back between your arms.

4. Plant Your Hands on the Floor

Reach for the floor with straight arms to avoid hitting your head. Your fingers should point up and away from your face. Use the pads of your hands, fingers, arms, and shoulders for support, not just your hands.

5. Swing Your Legs Over Your Head

Snap your legs over your head, keeping them almost straight but not locked. Ensure your shoulders align with your hands.

6. Plant Your Feet on the Floor

Swing your legs and feet down firmly, keeping your upper body straight. Land with your legs slightly bent.

7. Pop Up

Finish by landing with your legs bent and popping up to release momentum. Bring your arms in front of you and then raise them over your head. Practice with a spotter until you’re confident doing it alone.

How to Do a Back Handspring


Warming Up and Stretching

1. Warm Up

Never attempt a back handspring without warming up to prevent injury. Jog, jump rope, or do jumping jacks, lunges, or push-ups to get your blood flowing.

2. Stretch Your Wrists and Ankles

Roll your wrists and ankles clockwise and counterclockwise five times each. Point and flex your feet ten times. For wrists, place your palms down with fingers pointed at you and pull back. For ankles, use an exercise band to stretch each foot.

3. Practice Handstands

Stand straight with your arms over your head, fall forward placing your palms on the ground, and kick one leg up, letting the other follow. Tighten your core and buttocks to stay upright. Walk on your hands to build strength.

4. Do a Backbend

Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, arms extended by your ears. Look up, push your hips forward, and slowly bend backward, planting your hands firmly on the ground.

5. Do a Back Walkover

From a backbend position, lift one leg off the ground and swing it over your head, pushing off with the other leg. Practice kicks from a bridge position until you can fully kick both legs over.


Getting Comfortable with the Movements


1. Use a Soft Mat

To get used to going backwards, use a soft mat or AirTrack Mat to prevent injury. Practice jumping backwards onto it, swinging your arms as you would for a back handspring.

2. Get a Spotter

Always have a spotter when trying a back handspring for the first time. They should place one hand on your lower back and the other under your thighs to help you flip backwards safely.

3. Try on a Trampoline

If you’re not confident, start on a trampoline. It helps build confidence and reduces the risk of injury before attempting the move on a harder surface.


Q&A for How to Do a Back Handspring

How can I land my aerial without being too low to the ground?

Ensure your run-up isn’t too long and swing your legs quickly for enough power to bring you back up.

How do you know you are strong enough to do a back handspring?

Strong arms are crucial. If your arms bend when you hit the floor, work on arm strength with push-ups and pull-ups.

How do I get over the fear of going backwards?

Practice going from standing to a bridge quickly. Having a trusted spotter helps build confidence.

How do I put my hands on the ground if I have trouble with hand landing?

Practice a back limber or bridge kickover, focusing on putting your legs together while kicking over.

I can do it on the trampoline but not the floor. Any tips?

Try on a spring floor with a spotter. A spring floor is a step between a trampoline and a hard floor.

How do I get over the fear of getting injured?

Use a stack of cushions for landing. Remove cushions one by one as you gain confidence.

Do I need a back limber to achieve a back handspring?

Not necessarily, but it can be helpful to practice. 

I can almost do it but can’t jump back. Any tips?

Use a trampoline with a spotter to practice jumping back. Stretch well to make the jump easier.

What gymnastic experience do I need to do this?

It’s good to know how to do a handstand and hold it for at least three seconds.

What exercises strengthen my arms?

Basic push-ups and handstand push-ups against a wall are effective.

How do I push down without fearing falling?

Lock your head with your arms and look at the floor as you go backward. Always have a spotter.

How do I get my legs to go over at the same time?

Focus on squeezing your ankles and knees together, and squeeze your butt to keep hips even.

I always put my hands where my feet were. What should I do?

Practice pop handstands to push your body up and snap your feet down.

How do I do a back walkover?

Learn a backbend and handstand first. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, swing your arms back, lift your front foot, and follow with the other foot.