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Dear Coach Wayne

PLEASE!!! I need help. On Friday, May 3rd I am trying out for the Varsity cheerleading squad and one of the requirements is that we must be able to do a cartwheel and I have NO clue how to do one please let me know how. Please, I REALLY need your help! I don't have time to wait for a video to arrive

Thanks so much.

OK.. you ASKED!

1) To acclimate your body to being upside down... do this: Work on your handstand against the wall... Start by standing with your BACK to the wall... then place your hands about 10 inches from the wall... push against the floor with STRAIGHT elbows... and then walk your feet UP the wall until you're standing on your hands.

Have someone WATCH you to make sure your body is in good form... look for:
a) Head RELAXED and hanging down loosely between the arms
b) hands almost touching one another... thumbs about 2 inches apart
c) body in a STRAIGHT line from wrists to toes... no bends! Especially in the shoulders & back
d) feet TOGETHER... toes pointed... knees TIGHT.

Remain on your hands for about 10 seconds... then reverse down to the beginning position and relax, then repeat that about 20 times a day. If your form is bad or weak... don't count it.

2) practice a STRAIGHT BODY LUNGE STEP with BOTH legs... and LEVER your straight body ON the lunge leg only...until your hands are supporting you partly and PUSH the body forwards onto your hands with ONLY your front
knee working.

So... here are the steps. (have a friend help you read and do this)

a) start standing on your feet... arms overhead, straight and narrow. (gymnastics stance)

b) lift ONE leg in front of you... straight knee... until your feet are as far apart as you can make them (without letting EITHER knee bend) and then STEP forward onto the front foot. Your feet should be FAR apart.

c) BEND the front knee... BUT keep ALL the rest of your body EXACTLY as it was when you were standing straight on your feet. (arms overhead & narrow...back & shoulders in the same LINE as your ankle and wrist and KEEP bending the front knee (lunge leg) until ALL your weight is on that FRONT foot & your back foot is brushing softly on the floor. The front lunge knee should be bent DEEPLY at a right angle (90 degrees)

d) HOLD that LUNGE position for 5 seconds and let NOTHING move. just breathe. MAKE SURE your arms don't drop.. your back doesn't arch and your back leg remains STRAIGHT.

e) THEN> yes it gets tougher (but you CAN do it!) KEEP lifting your back leg up in the air... towards the ceiling... until your hands touch the floor. but keep your hands as FAR from your front (lunge) foot as possible so that you are REACHING (lunging!) forwards aggressively. When your fingers touch... put ONE hand in FRONT of the other (turn your hands sideways in the same direction)...

BY THE WAY!!!!! make sure you are working on a STRAIGHT LINE. Begin here at one end with both feet "8" together.8|----------> step forwards onto your lunge leg "o"... onto the same line o|--------o-------------and reach with the hands "xx" to the same line 0|------o-------ax-ax--------->
HOLD that position for 5 seconds....

f) THEN REVERSE the process EXACTLY with the feet ending up EXACTLY in your starting position and your body in a gymnastics stance. You can also use your tablet during practice to help with strength training and accuracy. (click here to find out how)

g) rest

h) repeat 10 times... LEFT foot in front and 10 times with the RIGHT foot in front

i) repeat 10 MORE times... both sides... but this time when your hands are on the floor in front of your lunge leg... I want you to PUSH the lunge-knee straight ... push HARD enough to actually get the knee COMPLETELY straight AND off the floor

LASTLY... practice LOOKING at different parts of the STRAIGHT LINE... each time. For example... the first time you do it.. LOOK at your hands the ENTIRE time second time... ONLY at your right foot third time... only at your left foot... and then try CHANGING from one to the other RANDOMLY throughout EACH attempt.
OK... I PROMISE you... if you'll do those exercises for the next few days... when you attempt your cartwheel on Friday, EVERYONE will be amazed at how strong and well-formed your cartwheel is. Expect your shoulders and knees to be a bit sore with the new work. good luck!


You may also be interested in the following:
(FLASH player permission is required to view animations.)
Back Tuck Progressions
Benchmarks of Excellence
Cross Arm Spot
Gymnastics Jump
Jump, Set, Tuck
Lunge to Handstand
Round-Off Hand Placement
Straight Body Fall


Coach Wayne was the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos, and books have been used by students and instructors worldwide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for tumbling instructor certification training. For booking information, coaches/owners should text or call 912.238.1747.


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