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5 Tips for Cartwheels


I recently spent a weekend with my nieces. Three minutes after my arrival it was time for cartwheels. I haven’t done so many cartwheels since I was a cheerleader in high school! Somewhere in the beginning of our weekend of cartwheels, I had a flash back to myself at the same age in one of my first tumbling classes.  After class, we practiced our cartwheels in the outfield where the Little League teams practiced.  This amazing positive memory - is one I want to give to other kids.  Cartwheels are a brilliant way to have fun, develop relative body strength and confidence.  


My nieces, have not had the chance to take a tumbling class. So I decided to use the skills I have built from the years of coaching cheerleading and the numerous tumbling classes I teach at POW! Gym to motivate these two little girls to learn a cartwheel.


When teaching cartwheels - remember not all people are comfortable being inverted.  For example, my older niece is tall with long extremities and she has a fear of being upside down.  My younger neice has a different body type and has no inhibitions.  It took me all weekend, but by Sunday morning, all three of us were cartwheelin’ around.  Below are 5 tips for teaching a cartwheel - they consider the importance of hand placement, momentum, safety and the fact that some kids have a fear about being upside down.  

Here are 5 Tip to Teaching a Cartwheel


1.  Plenty of Space

  • Outside or inside 
  • A lot more room is needed as a beginner, so a wide and also tall area is a must- plenty of room will allow the student to fully extend their extremities.
  • I would also suggest a soft, but not too soft landing space- grass, mats or carpeted area is a great option!


2.  Get comfortable being upside down

  • I always have kids do inversions before cartwheels.
  • Find a wall that is bare (and that allows feet to be on it).
  • Stand with your back against wall and place hands on the ground by feet.
  • Shift weight to the hands and crawl feet up the wall - repeat until comfortable. We call this wall-walking.


3.  Find lead leg and lead hand

  • To find the lead side, turn towards a wall and jump around halfway, so that one foot stomps in front of the other- this is the lead leg, which means it is also the lead hand.
  • Draw a hand on the ground with a washable marker or piece of chalk.  Then write the #1 in it.
  • The #1 hand ALWAYS goes before the #2 hand- there are a lot of kids who innately put both hands down at the same time.
  • Start by placing hands on ground and jumping feet from the #1 side to the #2 side
  • Stand up and put #1 leg in front then, without legs going straight overhead, attempt a cartwheel in this order: #1 leg, #1 hand, #2 hand, #2 leg, #1 leg and stand up!


4.  Make sure arms are straight and covering ears

  • Once comfortable with going upside and getting the hand placement, start to work on the technique. Starting position should have arms up covering ears, then upside arms should still be straight and covering ears, all the way through until standing position.

5.  Straightening the Cartwheel

  • ALL big muscles should be squeezed and engaged with pointed toes.
  • A perfect cartwheel will start by facing the direction you are going and end facing the direction you came from.
  • Using tape or a line on the ground, attempt to have the lead foot step onto the line and then hand #1, then hand #2.    It is usually easiest to concentrate on your hands first (#1 and #2) to land on your line. 

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