Cartwheels remind us of young, carefree days when we could frolic in the park or test our daring with tumbling and gymnastics. If you want to do a cartwheel, it is simple. Once you get over your fear and follow these steps, you’ll be turning cartwheels in no time.
- Find a soft, roomy surface. The first few tries at a cartwheel can find you tumbling over onto your side or afraid you’ll land on your head. Before you get started take the precaution of finding a soft place to practice as you learn. A tumbling mat is the best option but if you don’t have one, then try a soft patch of grass or sand and make sure to remove any rocks or other objects that might get in your way. Make sure you have enough room so you won’t crash into anything or anyone.
- Take a deep breath. For many the first cartwheel involves getting over a twinge of fear. After all, you are basically diving headfirst toward the ground. Take a breath and relax.
- Face front and raise your arms above your head. Fully extend your arms up above your head to prepare for the tumbling position.
- Step one leg forward. The forward leg should have your foot pointing to where you want to go. It doesn’t matter whether you step forward with your left or right leg.
- Look down to where you want to place your hands. Aim for a few feet in front of your forward foot. The distance depends upon your height so aim for closer if you are small or if you are tall, reach for more than three feet from your foot.
- Reach down with both hands. Lead with the same side as your forward leg. If you step your left leg forward in step four, then lead with the left hand so that it will be the first side to touch the ground. Keep your arms extended as they hit the ground.
- Pull your back leg up into the air. Kick your legs so that as your rear leg gets nearly straight up, the front leg is also coming off the ground and the momentum will pull your lower body over the top.
- Land on one foot then the other and straighten up. Momentum pulls your body over. You should land with the foot that started out in the back. It will quickly be followed by the foot that started in front. As you straighten your torso pull your arms up over your head to continue the line of your body.
- Practice with speed. Following these directions makes cartwheels seem difficult because trying to practice in slow motion causes you to lose the momentum and fluidity of your body’s natural movement. Start practicing going through the steps as one constant movement. Then you will be able to work up to running and diving into a cartwheel where you don’t have to concentrate as much on hand placement and working all your body parts together.
Cartwheels are fun and can make you feel free and giddy. There’s nothing like seeing the world turn around you as you tumble over your hands. Plus cartwheels are one of the first gymnastics moves you can learn. They prepare you for round-offs, flips, handsprings and even cartwheels with no hands.