Introduction: Cartwheel for Beginners

Since the age of 15 I have coached gymnastics, tumbling and cheer, and it is an absolute passion of mine. I have coached all ages from 3 year old's to high school students, and as a coach of these separate categories, one thing each of them have in common is tumbling. When coaching and teaching tumbling, one of the very first skills that new and starting athletes of these groups need to learn is a cartwheel.

A cartwheel is one of the most basic yet important preparatory skills needed in order to build on to any form of tumbling that you wish to pursue. From a cartwheel, you learn how to do a roundoff, which is the skill that leads into any form of longer or more complicated tumbling pass. But in order to advance onto more complicated skills, an athletes need to know how to do a proper cartwheel.

In this instructable I am going to share the steps necessary to learn to do a basic cartwheel, as well as some tips on how to achieve the best results.

Step 1: Find an Open Area

Before starting the steps of the cartwheel, you will need to find an open and empty space that is large enough for you to do a cartwheel. Make sure there are no objects around that you could hit or run into when working the skill and make sure the ceiling or roof of the area is tall enough that you will not kick it.

I also recommend using a mat or soft surface when first learning. A mat will provide additional safety for those attempting this skill. Again, make sure you place your mat in an open area to allow sufficient room for a cartwheel.

Step 2: Start in a Lunge

To begin your cartwheel, you need to position yourself in a lunge.

To do your lunge:

1. Place your dominant leg in front of yourself and bend it slightly with your back leg straight.

2. Place both arms straight above your head, tight next to your ears.

Step 3: Lever

The next position your body needs to pass through is a Lever. This position is on the transition to get your hands onto the ground.

To do a lever:

1. From your lunge position, shift weight onto your front (dominant leg)

2. begin to lift your back leg up as you lower your upper body

3. Your body should be straight and parallel to the ground with your arms still tight to your ears

Step 4: Place Hands on the Ground

As your continue through the progress of your cartwheel, you will next need to place your hands on the ground.

When placing your hands:

1. Place your Hands shoulder width apart on the ground at a 90 degree angle

2. Continue driving your back leg straight up and over your body

Step 5: Kick Feet Over Head

Now that both hands are placed on the ground, keep driving both legs over the top of your body in a split position.

1. Kick your feet over your head one at a time.

2. The leg you had in the back of your lunge should be the first one over your body

3. Your front leg from your lunge with be the second leg to kick over.

4. Make sure that when you kick you are kicking your legs stright up to the ceiling, and not around towards the wall. This will make sure you are properly on top of your hands.

Step 6: Back Leg Contacts Ground

As the momentum from your kick carries your legs over the top of your body, your legs will begin to descend on the other side of your body facing the opposite way than where you started.

1. The first leg that should make contact with the ground is your back leg from the initial lunge.

2. As that leg meets contact with the ground begin to square your hips and body toward the direction your started your lunge in.

Step 7: The Lever Again

As you are coming out of the cartwheel, you will need to pass through the level position again. This second lever is on the transition to get your hands back off the ground.

1. Shift your weight as you bring your hands off the ground onto the (non-dominant) leg that first meets contact with the ground.

2. Continue driving your dominant leg towards the ground.

3. Your body should be straight and parallel to the ground with your arms still tight to your ears

Step 8: Landing Lunge

To end your cartwheel, you will return to another lunge, this time with your dominant leg behind and the other leg in front.

1. Land in a lunge facing the opposite direction you started from

2. Your arms should be over your head, tight to your ears

3. Front leg should be slightly bent and your back leg straight.

Step 9: Tips for Starting New

When you are first starting out, you can kick your feet around the side of your body. As you feel more comfortable and confident try to kick your feet towards the ceiling directly over your head.

Step 10: Practice Makes Perfect

The last step in learning a cartwheel, is repeating the skill over and over until you feel comfortable with it and until you can improve it. Like learning anything new, it may not come easily at first, but that is no reason to become discouraged.

It's like I tell my athletes, don't just practice until you can do a new skill. Practice until you can't get it wrong. If frustration is occuring during the practince stage, take a step back and start again with the basics and go through each step over again. The more you practice, the better your cartwheel will look!!