For Coaches Front Handspring Progression

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Sep 21, 2008
Well.. it was started, so Ill take the time to begin.

As a highschool coach, I have limited time with my athletes to perfect skills, so I work on making circuits that re-enforce body motion, awareness, and flexibility.

To begin my progression, I start by teaching a handstand. While this is another topic entirely, I benchmark the time to move on by the gymnast being able to do a handstand with their shoulders and hips against a wall (heels too, if possible).

From there, we begin rotational workouts.

Station one is a porta-pit on the floor.
Kick a handstand from walking, keep looking at hands and fall forward so body lands on porta pit.
Emphasize a late drive to keep the body going forward.

Station two is a "pac-man" flip flop wheel on an elevated surface (like a stack of 8" mats) with the wedge on the end of the mats (the cut out rests on the end of the mat). That goes off the edge into a lower stack of mats or porta pit, with an 8" mat to support it. The take-off surface needs to be solid, the landing needs to be softer.
Main Idea- Kick a handstand, flop forward tight and arched, stand up.
Eventually work on buidling speed and block through the process.
This station is independent.

Station three is a spotted handspring from a folded panel mat into a sting mat.
Main idea- Body shaping. Work on getting to a quick handstand from a lunge, and drive the heels with the hips open.

Eventually, work on agression and turn over by feeling the chest pull down towards the floor.
Arms up by ears constantly re-enforced.

Station four is attemping the handspring on their own, over a sideways sting mat.
Main idea- elongate the handspring by staying tight.

If gymnasts are having a hard time from the elevated panel mats, they should skip this station and return to the "pac-man" station.

Gymnasts are fairly self-managed, and only need a spot on 1 station. This circuit can be repeated as necessary over a 15-20 minute span.

Things to look for-

1) Is the handstand turning over fast enough? If not, help them feel the chest pull by telling them to place their hands as closer to their pushing foot. You do not want it too close, though, as it may cause ducking of the head and counter rotation.

2) Ducking of the head. If the chin goes to the chest, you end up with a hollow. Play the counting game on the handstand into porta pit - hold up fingers and have them tell you how many you are holding up. Eventually, have them focus on looking at their own hands.

3) Drive happening before the vertical - this happens because the gymnast is not keeping their legs straight, and they are not pusing off the ground with their lunge leg.

This is my progression - but I would love to hear other ideas. I recently came across a problem this year where by boys would keep their backs rounded when kicking to the handstand - as if trying to feel support before they kicked. Im not sure how to help them fix it, other than repetition and telling them to not touch the mats with their shoulders.

If anyone has good ideas on how to build for fly-springs as well, I would love to hear them.



Jul 5, 2007
Cues for open chest: push your armpits forward, push through your shoulders (less likely to angle).

I usually show them the difference between having a closed shoulder angle and opening so they can use all their chest and upper back muscles. Just put their arms in the right position and push down like they're contacting the floor.

Mine are similar to yours, but I have them do it off something higher for awhile to get the shaping. Say off a wedge mat (handstand on high side) with mats underneath.

If a trampoline or tumble track is available, donkey kicks and bounder/flysprings can be good, although sometimes in a high school situation you don't always have the time to switch over from two feet to one foot. However, it might help strengthen the front handspring and doing multiple ones would help those working on front series.

I learned a front handspring step out first come to think of it. I don't teach it that way...just was thinking about it.

Once they get good you can also use a panel mat and have them start on one side and reach to the other, and do it going up a wedge mat (from low to high).


Jan 18, 2009
Handstand blocks are always a good station to help them get the feel of blocking through their shoulders rather than pushing through their elbows. We will do either handstand on the floor and try to block up onto an unfolded panel mat or handstand on the floor block onto the floor level resi and fall flat to their back.
But those are really good stations, I'll have to remember those for my level 4/5s. I wish we had more space to spread out!


I've got tumble trak progressions for handsprings as follows:

-Handstand flatback into the landing mat at the end. Emphasis on handstand ALL the way up and over straight.
-Cheese mat on the landing mat, high side towards them. They run, hurdle, hands on the tumble trak, block, and land as far down the mat as they can.
-Handsprings over a barrel, with the whole goal of NOT touching it & getting their hips up
-Handsprings on their own.

I can use most of the same drills on floor if an athlete is struggling with moving the skill, too.
Jun 3, 2009
I recently changed the way I taught front hand springs...
I now do:
1) Kick to hand stand fall flat back
2) Kick to hand stand fall over barrel in tight arch while blocking to stand up.
3) Kick front hand spring over panel mat with a spot (hands on the mat).
4) Perhaps even an additional station (3) w/out a spot.
* I may also add or use, panel mats stacked to a cheese to faciliate step front handspring down the cheese before moving to the front hand spring over a panel mat.

Once this becomes easy enough where little or no spot is needed I move to the tumble trak.

1) Donkey Kicks down tumble trak. Nice heel drive with a tight arch.
2) On a tumble trak, step front hand spring. No hurdle. I find the hurdle can become a crutch allowing the gymnast to not block hard enough.
3) Once they can show a step, kick front hand spring with good form they move onto hurdle front handspring. Again, I require good form before I allow them to move on to bounders/fly springs.

Once I see good hurdle front hand springs on tumble track I'll move to the floor using similar progressions.
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