Back Handspring Help

adult_gymnast_20

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Jan 1, 2021
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So I'm an adult gymnast (clearly from username), 22yo and trying to achieve my back handspring. I can do it pretty well spotted but eventually I would love to do it standing and connected to a roundoff. I love practicing them but I feel like maybe my coach isn't ready to let me try it on my own. Otherwise he'd say something right? So what are some things I can be doing to improve my skills to keep working towards independence?
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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It’s hard to know without seeing a video of your skill. No harm in asking your coach if they think you are ready to try it and what you can work on to improve.

If your coach does not feel you are ready, in the long term it’s going to pay off if you wait. If you rush this skill, what tends to happen is that you compromise technique and will develop bad habits which are very hard to fix and will impact future progressions.
 

kaha

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Gymnast
Mar 5, 2021
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20
Back handspring drills you can do without your coach are hard to come by, especially you don't have access to the gym. But here are some suggestions:

  1. Master your handstand. The stronger the handstand, the less likely you'll collapse in your back handspring. Make sure your head is straight, your hips lined up with your shoulders.
  2. Master handstand hops. Basically, all you do is kick into a handstand and hop using your shoulders. It should be one smooth motion: kick-legs up-hop. Ask your coach about it. It's something you can do on your own, but takes at least one try with a coach to get it right. It's a really important drill for strengthening shoulders and learning how to create momentum when tumbling.
  3. Bridge stretches.
  4. Round-off REBOUND (as big as you can get). When you rebound, make sure you have a slight lean backwards. Not too much, but just enough to get you backwards.
  5. IF you have access to mats, round-off rebound, fall onto a whale mat. Make sure you do these with your coach FIRST. Once you have it down (shouldn't take more than a few tries) you can do it on your own. Obviously, you need to do this at the gym.
  6. Handstand snap-downs. You do a handstand on an elevated surface (like a hard mat, the edge of the rod floor, etc.). Once you're up, you snap both legs back down to the ground and rebound out of it. Make sure you snap your arms up as you go up. The idea is to practice getting out of a back handspring.
  7. Practice arch-body rockers (or superman hold; otherwise known as arch body hold). Focus on squeezing your legs together, nice and straight. The most common problem I see in gymnasts learning back handsprings, and even in gymnasts who have been doing back handsprings for years, is the loose-leg syndrome. Practice squeezing those legs together and keeping a tight core, both for a cleaner, more powerful back handspring and so you don't threaten your coach's life with wild limbs.
  8. Rebound jumps. Strengthen those ankles by keeping your legs straight and hopping just using your ankles. Do it with your arms above your head and focus on not bending or wiggling. Keep your core and glutes tight. No cheating by hopping with bent legs, unless you plan on doing back handsprings off mats. Even then, I recommend doing both straight-leg hops and bent leg.
  9. Watch good gymnasts do back handsprings and try to memorize their form: their lean, how tight they are, when they push from the ground, etc.
Hope this helps. Stay safe, and if you're uncertain about how to do something, ask your coach. All of this is something you can likely do by yourself, in and out of the gym. HOWEVER, many of these are good to do only after doing them with your coach, so that you can be certain of proper form. Please, calculate the risks before you do any of these, and make sure you know what you're doing before you do it.

Good luck!