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FAQ: How To Do a Back Handspring
Tips and Instructions on Doing a Back Handspring
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First, I assume you are working this skill in a gym. To attempt it at home could cause injury. If you are not in a gym, see if your local gyms have an Open Gym day or evening, and perhaps you could get in once a week and work with the coaches. Also, ask your PE teachers/coaches, most likely, they have taken a course in gymnastics in college.

If you are working this skill in the gym, then here are some tips that might help. I advise beginning this skill on cheese, or incline mat. Begin as if you are sitting in a chair. As you sit back, you will feel you are about to fall on your behind; *this* is the time to jump, and jump hard, pulling the legs over the head. Push hard off of the hands, and keep the arms straight and strong. Try to think of it as jumping backward into a handstand. Some coaches teach this skill with an arm swing, others like the arms to start by, and stay with the head. Ask your coaches what they think is best.

Back handsprings aren't so much about arching. In fact, when you start getting to roundoff flip-flops, there should be very little arch in your back. But doing back handsprings from a stand, of course, is much harder, requiring you to generate momentum from almost nothing -- so, you will need to arch a little. But what you should focus on is throwing your arms back, opening up your shoulder angle.

If you have a Port-A-Pit handy, try this drill. It is almost the same as the initial "throw" into the flip-flop. Stand in front of one end, with your back to the Port-A-Pit. Swing your arms down and back, then as fast as you can throw them back over your head. At the same time, push back with your legs so that you go into the air and onto the mat. The goal here is to get as much power as you can and travel backwards as much as possible. That is it for the first phase of the back handspring.

Now for the second phase, get a folded panel mat -- or even better, a springboard -- and place it flat on the floor in front of you. If you are using a springboard, place it so that the thicker end is facing you. Now, kick up to a handstand onto the board/mat. Bend your knees slightly, arch a little bit, and push you shoulders open as much as you can. Then using your stomach, back, and arm muscles, snap your body back to a hollow position, pushing off your hands, and land on your feet on the floor in front of the board/mat.

This sounds complicated, but it's the exact same motion you use in the second phase of the back handspring. You want to try to keep your body hollow, drive your feet to the ground and lift your chest at the same time. This will make getting to your feet a lot easier.

When these two drills are comfortably in your grasp, you're ready to put it together. Definitely have a spotter for this. Place a folded panel mat at the head of an 8-inch crash mat. Stand on the panel mat with your back to the crash mat. With a spotter carefully monitoring your height and rotation, go ahead and put the pieces together.

If you have trouble getting over to your hands, you need to swing harder with your arms. If you have an incline mat, do a back handspring -- with a spotter -- on that. This will get you accustomed to going over right to your hands.

Once you are comfortable performing this skill down the incline without a spot, try it on a level surface mat, again with a spot, until you feel comfortable *without* the spot. Once you can do it alone on a level surface mat, you are probably ready to perform it on the floor.

Roundoff - Back Handspring - Tuck

Roundoff, Back Handspring, Tuck - Photo courtesy of Gymworld.com

Note: The above information is used with the permission of Lee, a host of the Gymnastics Forum. Please note: advice given in this article is opinion and may not be the best advice for *you*. Always consult a gymnastics professional in your area, with your parents permission*

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