When learning how to do a back handspring, work with a spotter to help prevent injury. It's important that you learn to do the handspring in a gym while under the supervision of coaches and staff who can demonstrate the movement correctly and walk you through the progression of skills. Not only will you avoid injury, but you'll also avoid picking up bad habits that could prevent you from progressing with your cheerleading skills.
Before Getting Started
Cheerleading skills like the back handspring require certain prerequisites before progressing to the new skill. Handsprings require flexibility in your back and substantial upper body strength. Before you try the back handspring, you should be able to perform the following skills:
- A back bend with your legs extended so that most of your weight is supported by your arms
- A handstand
Before performing the skill, you may want to practice your form against a wall.
- Stand upright with your feet together about a foot or two in front of a wall, your back facing the wall.
- Hold your arms in front of your body, fully extended, palms down.
- Bend your knees and sit back, keeping your torso upright and straight like you're sitting down in a chair.
- Allow the wall to catch your back and prevent you from falling - your legs should form a 90-degree angle at the knees when the wall catches you.
- As you sit back, allow your arms to press down to your sides, keeping them fully extended and close to your body.
- When the wall catches your back, throw your arms up over your head, keeping them close to your ears as you snap them against the wall.
When learning to perform a back handspring, it's common to bend your knees over your toes and lean forward with your torso, but doing this actually works against the momentum of the back handspring. Practicing against the wall will help you learn the mechanics of the exercise properly so that you'll be ready to put them into action.
Learning How to Do a Back Handspring
You're now ready to attempt a back handspring while working with a spotter. Keep the following things in mind when performing the exercise:
- Keep your arms tight and your arms extended throughout the exercise so that your elbows don't give out on you when you hit the handstand portion of the handspring.
- Keep your torso fairly straight throughout the handspring; even though you will need to bend backward, the handspring should be initiated with the reach of your arms and the force of your jump.
On your first few attempts, you may want to use a wedge mat to help force your momentum backward. If you choose to use the wedge, stand on the highest portion of the mat with your back facing the mat's decline.
- Stand upright with your feet together, your body upright and straight and your arms extended directly over your head next to your ears.
- Keeping your torso upright, bend your knees and sit back, just as though you were going to sit against the wall.
- As you sit back, swing your arms in an arc in front of your body and down to your sides to help you gain momentum.
- When you've bent your knees to a 90-degree angle as though you were sitting in a chair, forcefully jump up and backward while throwing your arms up and over your head, keeping them close to your ears.
- As you jump, reach backward and plant your palms on the mat with your arms tight and straight while throwing your legs up into an extended handstand position.
- Press through your shoulders and palms, and snap your legs down to the ground, keeping your feet together.
- Finish by reaching your arms over your head to help you stand up straight.
Watch How It's Done
Practice Makes Perfect
Now that you conceptually know how to do a back handspring, you must practice, practice, practice. As your form and confidence improves, your spotter will gradually remove her support and you'll eventually perform the exercise all on your own. You can feel confident that your form is correct which is important if you want to progress to more advanced tumbling skills.