Do a cartwheel if you are kid or if you are not!

How to do a cartwheel properly?

For sure, the majority of us associate cartwheel with childhood. And rightly so! At least partially because cartwheel is not only ‘’kids stuff’’.

What is a cartwheel?

Cartwheel is a basic movement essential for gymnastics development requiring such key areas like strength, mobility, overall
oordination and agility. That is why kids are fond of doing cartwheels, and they learn them easier than adults. They just have right predispositions (like small bodies which are easier to maneuver; and natural flexibility) as well as they are not afraid of challenges. But not only children can learn how to do a cartwheel and benefit from them. Adults should just get to know their weak points and eliminate them as well as do a few things to become more confident.

According to Harrell (2018) a cartwheel is defined as ‘’one in which you begin with your right leg forward and your right hand is the first to contact the ground. Conversely, a “left” cartwheel is one in which you begin with your left leg forward and your left hand is the first
to contact the ground (note that a “right” cartwheel is a left-twisting skill. A left twist is one in which the left shoulder travels backward relative to the body in motion.)’’ That’s how it should be like in theory, but what about practice? In practice adults must cope with three major impediments with their bodies: tight and weak wrists, limited side bending motion and tight hips. If you want to start your adventure with cartwheel you should think it over and remove these problems by good training and physical exercises.

As it has been already said in the beginning of this article, cartwheels require a lot of strength especially in wrists. The majority of people are not tend to put weight through their hands and that is why tight and weak wrists contribute to using additional support in order
to equalize comfortability and make good moving. You can make your wrists stronger by doing exercises that increase flexibility and mobility in your wrists.

The other impediments are tight hips and limited side bending motion which is necessary for the full, straight line cartwheel. In order to improve side bending stretches are mostly recommend, especially the Triangle Pose or Half Pancake with Side bend.

What you should know before doing cartwheel?

You can do a cartwheel either starting front left or right foot. Cartwheel goes in reverse. It’s up to you which direction you will find easier to pull off than the other. Furthermore, before you start doing a cartwheel remember that your body should go vertical. And don’t get
discouraged. There’s no better way to do a perfect cartwheel than practicing it a lot.

How to do cartwheel after all?

You should plant your lead foot on the line, pointed straight forward the other side of the line. When it comes to hands, make your lead hand up in the air, with the hand pointed in the same direction as your lead foot. You are supposed to keep your upper body and lower
body in the same vertical plane to swing your legs up and over and land on that straight line. That’s the theory. How about practice?

How to do a cartwheel if you are a beginner?

Cartwheels require a lot of coordination in order to land solidly. That is why visualization in a form of imaginary line can be a very good method for beginners. You need to choose your lead leg and draw a line. Later on try to step off the line at an angle then move in a ‘V’,
placing first hand on the line, then the second one and then let your legs follow and land at an angle on the other side of the line. You need to put your all body work together. At the beginning you should not worry about keeping your legs high enough. First, you are
supposed to work on your coordination between hands and feet.

The other variation involves starting from pointing lead leg forward, placing one hand down and then jumping your legs over to the other side of the line. At this stage you shouldn’t worry if you land perfectly on the line. This involves last progression. You had better focus
on the paramount issue now which is making sure if your legs don’t wind up cross.

And finally you can concentrate on starting and landing straight on the line and getting your legs straight as possible as you can when landing.

Summing up, first, let’s start from drawing an imaginary line, then focus on coordination between hands and feet, then work on legs in order to avoid wind them up cross, then pay attention to start and land straight on the line and at the end try to straight your legs as
much as it’s possible.

When it comes to practical preparations, first of all you should take care about … clothes. They should be loose and comfortable in order to enable your moving be flexible. Then, the next step is finding right soft surface like a carpet, a lawn or a gymnastic mat. Soft surface
will help you minimize your fear of hurting yourself. As you wear comfortable clothes and find soft surface you can find your spotting partner who will protect you and help guide your movements.

And don’t forget about stretching your wrists and hamstrings before practicing cartwheel. It will protect you from injuries. You can do exercises by sitting in a straddle with your legs open widely and bend torso towards the ground. When it comes to practicing handstands,
using a wall or a pillow to get prepared can appear very helpful.

Remember about two things: to stay positive and repeat to yourself that you are able to do it and do not forget about the major rules which illustrate a general idea of doing cartwheel that goes: ‘’Hand, hand, foot, foot’’ and ‘’single plane.’’

How to do one hand cartwheel?

As you practice a lot and improve your strength and flexibility your cartwheel will become strong with good, you may try to form one arm cartwheel named also one hand cartwheel. What differentiate one handed cartwheel from two handed one is that you are supposed to
lift your less dominant hand off the ground during placing your strongest hand on the ground and lifting up your leg and kicking your other leg in the air as you place down your other hand. But before you start practicing one hand cartwheel make sure if you are really comfortable doing two hand cartwheel!

So how it goes? Master your cartwheel by practicing from both foots. This will contribute to building your arm and shoulder strength needed during doing a one hand cartwheel.

Next steps would be just the same as by regular cartwheel. You are supposed to find a soft surface and do some warming up exercises. Then, let’s practice your footwork and hand placement. It will be the same as in regular cartwheel with the difference that in one hand cartwheel you won’t use two hands. Now, it’s time for getting into position. Pick your lead foot up off the ground and raise your hands in the same way as in two hand cartwheel and put your internal arm (it would be a right if your lead leg is right and inversely) out or behind your back. Remember about not using your internal hand. Now it’s time to bend forward and plant your hand. If your lead foot is right, place your left hand on the imaginary line and ensure if your lead hand is found vertical to your direction of move with your fingers pointed toward lead foot.

Push off with your back leg and kick your legs back over. Try to land in upright line. At the end you can add some speed and as with regular cartwheel… practice a lot! There’s no better way to master your cartwheel.

How to do cartwheel without hands?

OK, but what if you have already mastered your one hand cartwheel? Would you like to start a new challenge? Try cartwheel without
hands! Sound scary? If you feel comfortable with one hand cartwheel, it won’t impossible, though you will need a lot of training and patience. Start from standing with legs and shoulder width- apart and try to find your balance. Remember about previous tips concerning soft surface and spotter. This time it’s even more important! Then take a few running steps. That’s because you’ll need more speed. The next step will be bringing up your lead leg which must be parallel to your chest. As far you do this, do a little hop with your other leg and keep your hand away from torso and plant your lead
leg into the ground. Keep its knee bent and put your arm down and make them in the same position as your waist. Keep your rear leg. Pay attention to your torso which must be horizontal to the ground and swing both your legs over your head. Land onto your rear leg and put your lead leg on the ground.

How to teach a cartwheel?

Are you a cartwheel master but you’re not sure how to teach your students? Here you’ ve got some tips. First of all, let’s take care of good equipment and place. You will need a lot of space- for example area or room with high ceilings as well as soft surface. It can be exercises
mat. There are a few methods- using cushion, sticks trick, straight line trick as well as hula hoops and chalk. Let’s take a look at using cushion. If you are a teacher you are supposed to place a cushion on the mat, have your student stand on one side of the object and tell him/her to hop over the other side of it and repeat the exercises. If you prefer sticker you need to place it on lead leg and instruct his/her to plant her/his sticker foot in front and place her/his hands on the floor in form the side position. Make sure if your student ends with her sticker foot behind him/her.

If you choose the straight line trick, you should place a mat down in an open area and take a two pieces of masking tape and put them on the mat in order to form a vertical line. Let’s have your student stand on one of ends of the line and instruct her/him to plant hands down onto the line. Your task is also to support her and check if she/he lands with both feet on the line.

That’s the theory in a nutshell, but remember, that the best way is to practice, practice and practice! Just like in a well – known proverb which sounds ‘’practice makes master’’.

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