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Back HEAD Springs?


Hi, I have been cheering for 3 years. I have been trying for a year to get a backhandspring, but it's just not working! Every time I sit and get ready to go, I throw my arms over my head, and end up landing on my head and looking like a frog! What am I doing wrong? My gymnastics instructor keeps telling me things, and they just don't work! Help!

You're supposed to be doing a back HAND spring, not a back HEAD spring! There's no way around it. The Back Handspring (BHS) is a sophisticated tumbling skill. Landing on your head is a VERY common problem. Unless I see your handspring personally, it's tough to provide you a solution for the problem, so let me offer a few LIKELY solutions here:

1. PUSH your Elbows straight. The PUSH of the handspring comes MOSTLY from the SHOULDERS. The elbows may be SLIGHTLY flexed JUST before the landing, but straighten completely.

2. Keep your arms close to your head. Your arms should be pressed so tightly together that you can feel your ears against your arms. The hands should be VERY close, almost touching!

3. BE in the HABIT of beginning AND ending your handspring with your arms STRAIGHT OVERHEAD. It's very common for cheerleaders to have STYLISTIC demands for beginning the handspring with the arms reaching straight ahead or straight down. A WISE tumbler will recognize the difference between STYLE and STRUCTURE. Good STRUCTURE in a handspring suggests that the arms BEGIN and END overhead.

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4. REACH backwards for the floor with your HANDS, not your head. I know this sounds simple, but as you're beginning to reach backwards for the floor you've got to THINK "hands to the floor!" and REACH with them. Tumblers who try to reach with their noses, instead of their hands are committing a silly, but common error.

5. PASS THROUGH a COMPLETE handstand position. This is one of the real secrets of GREAT handsprings.  In EVERY handspring, the body should pass THROUGH a perfect HANDSTAND. If you have a spotter slow, your handspring down a bit. You can easily identify that position and make the correction.

6. PRACTICE your handstand with your arms in the CORRECT position, and STAY in that position for 10-20 seconds. And as a reminder, in my "Better Backhandsprings" video (Order Online now at www.coachwayne.com),  I demonstrate in detail these and MANY other exercises to make sure you feel strong, powerful, and confident with your back-handspring!  Check it out!

Have fun, be safe push HARD!

Coach Wayne is 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 world wide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for in-gym instructor training and performance tumbling clinics throughout the year. For booking information, coaches/owners should call 912.398.8082. Students and parents should request coaches/owners to contact Coach Wayne.


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