Mastering The Back Handspring – A Step-by-Step Guide

how to do a back handspring


Gymnastics is a sport that combines strength, flexibility, and grace. One of the most iconic and impressive moves in gymnastics is the back handspring. Whether you’re a gymnast or simply looking to improve your fitness and agility, learning how to perform a back handspring is an exciting and achievable goal. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to help you master the back handspring.

Warm-Up and Stretching

Before attempting any gymnastic move, it’s crucial to start with a proper warm-up and stretching routine. This prepares your body for the physical demands of the back handspring and reduces the risk of injury. Begin with light aerobic exercises such as jogging or jumping jacks to raise your heart rate and warm up your muscles. Then, focus on stretching to increase flexibility. Concentrate on stretching your shoulders, back, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

Basic Handstand

The back handspring starts with a solid handstand, so it’s essential to master this fundamental position. Begin by finding an open space and following these steps

a. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

b. Bend at the waist, placing your hands on the ground in front of you.

c. Walk your feet toward your hands, keeping your legs straight until you form an inverted “V” shape.

d. Slowly shift your weight from your feet to your hands while keeping your arms straight.

e. Focus on maintaining a straight line from your wrists to your shoulders, hips, and heels.

f. Practice holding the handstand for at least 30 seconds or longer if possible.

Bridge Position

The bridge position is crucial for the back handspring as it helps you get comfortable with the concept of arching your back. To practice this position

a. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

b. Place your hands beside your head, fingers pointing toward your shoulders.

c. Press through your hands and feet, lifting your hips and chest off the ground.

d. Keep your arms and legs straight, forming a bridge shape with your body.

e. Hold the bridge position for 15-30 seconds while focusing on keeping your core engaged and your weight evenly distributed.

Standing Backbend

The standing backbend is an extension of the bridge position and an essential step toward the back handspring. Follow these instructions

a. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

b. Reach your arms overhead, keeping them straight.

c. Slowly begin to lean backward, arching your back and pushing your hips forward.

d. Continue to lean back, engaging your core to control your balance.

e. Ideally, you should aim to have your hands touch the ground behind you, creating a complete arch.

f. Practice this position regularly to improve your back flexibility and balance.

Back Walkover

The back walkover is a crucial precursor to the back handspring. It combines the handstand, bridge position, and standing backbend. Here’s how to perform a back walkover

a. Begin with a forward step and lunge forward with one foot while reaching your arms overhead.

b. Place your hands on the ground, kick your back leg up into a handstand, and begin to arch your back into the bridge position.

c. As your back touches the ground, push through your arms and bring your front leg over, following with the back leg.

d. Complete the back walkover by standing up on the other side, ending in a forward lunge.

e. Practice the back walkover repeatedly to improve your coordination and balance.

Spotting and Safety

Throughout your journey to mastering the back handspring, it’s important to have a spotter, especially when you’re just starting. A spotter can provide support, balance, and safety, helping you build confidence in your back handspring. Make sure your spotter is experienced and knows how to assist you effectively.

Progressive Drills

Now that you’ve built a strong foundation, it’s time to focus on specific drills to progress towards the back handspring

a. Wall Drills: Use a wall to practice kicking into a handstand and slowly arching over to a bridge position. This will help you develop control and confidence.

b. Mat Drills: Begin practicing on a mat to minimize the impact on your hands and wrists. Focus on the shape and control of your back walkover.

c. Tumbling Track: Use a tumbling track or a soft surface to work on the back handspring with a spotter, gradually reducing their support as you gain confidence.

d. Video Analysis: Record your practice sessions to review your form and identify areas for improvement.

Back Handspring Progression

Now that you’ve developed the necessary skills and confidence, it’s time to attempt the back handspring. Here’s a step-by-step guide

a. Start from a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.

b. Bend your knees slightly and swing your arms forward and upward as you jump off the ground.

c. As you reach the peak of your jump, tuck your knees toward your chest and bring your hands to the ground, aiming for a handstand position.

d. In the handstand position, keep your body straight, and push your hips forward as you arch your back.

e. As your feet pass over your head, spot the ground and prepare to land.

f. Extend your legs and land on the balls of your feet with your arms extended above your head to maintain balance.

Common Mistakes and Tips

While learning the back handspring, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes and helpful tips

Common Mistakes

  • Not fully extending the body during the back handspring, leading to a pike shape.
  • Insufficient leg separation, causing instability in the air.
  • Failing to spot the ground during the flip, resulting in uncontrolled landings.

Helpful Tips

  • Focus on maintaining a tight body position and proper hand placement.
  • Practice with a spotter or in a safe environment.
  • Consistent repetition and drills are key to improving your back handspring.

Persistence and Patience

Mastering the back handspring is a challenging and rewarding journey. It requires persistence, patience, and a commitment to regular practice. Celebrate small victories and progress, and remember that it’s normal to experience setbacks along the way. With dedication and hard work, you can achieve this impressive gymnastic skill.


Is it hard to learn a back handspring?

A back handspring is a hard skill to learn because it’s unlike anything most gymnasts have done before. And since a back handspring requires a gymnast to push and jump backwards it can also create mental blocks.

Is a back handspring harder than a backflip?

A good handspring is arguably a more complicated skill. You need proper sit angle, shoulder flexibility, proper push through legs/ankles/toes, proper head placement, and a good snap from arch to hollow among other things. I would recommend working handsprings on a trampoline first.


The back handspring is a stunning gymnastic move that combines strength, flexibility, and grace. By following this step-by-step guide, starting with a proper warm-up and stretching routine, and gradually progressing through foundational skills like the handstand, bridge position, standing backbend, and back walkover, you can build the necessary foundation to master the back handspring. Remember to prioritize safety, practice with a spotter, and be patient with your progress. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve the back handspring and unlock a new level of athleticism and agility.

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