company logo Gymnastics 4 Hire ≡

Teaching Cartwheels Part 1

Aug 2014

First Published: , Edited: Tuesday 27-Jan-2015 8:14 AM
Author: Gary Black

Share this article

share on Facebook share on Twitter share on Google+ share on LinkedIn submit to reddit share on StumbleUpon Share on Tumblr Subscribe to RSS

Keeping things simple

I'm going to try and avoid using language that is too technical in this article, as it is about teaching a cartwheel. We don't need to know fancy words, given the age of the students, it is highly unlikely that they would understand technical stuff.

Disclaimer: This is what has worked in my experience. Your experiences may differ. 

What is a cartwheel?

Maybe this is a stupid question, hopefully if you are reading this article then you have already seen a cartwheel in one form or another, but lets get a bit technical (first and only time). In it's basic form, a cartwheel involves translating your body in the horizontal plane over the largest distance possible, whilst rotating around our anterior / posterior axis. As we rotate, we shift our body weight from foot to hand, to hand, to foot, to foot, finishing in a star shape (assuming that we are aiming to join multiple cartwheels together). 

More information on Wikipedia


Use a box

All we need is a small box or raised surface, about 30 cm high. We are raising the floor surface so that we don't have to reach down as far. One thing at a time, lets worry about the sideways rotation first, as this is a foreign concept for beginners. Keep in mind that from a child's perspective this box is quite high. For us, it would be a similar height to the seat on a chair. Acromat sells some nice quality equipment - the boxes we use are A13-90, but you could use anything that is about the child's knee height, and won't wobble or fall over.


Drill / Activity 1

Designed for a beginner who has never done a cartwheel before. This drill is basically about taking weight on your arms. We are not concerned with which way our body faces yet. Start by standing with the box in front of you. The box is in the sideways orientation.

Step 1 - Place your hands sideways on the box. Jump both of your feet up onto the box, then down onto the other side.

Step 2 - As before, but now instead of jumping onto the box, we are just going to jump straight over the box.



Drill / Activity 2

Now we can get over the box, it's time to start thinking about which way we face.

Which way do our hands point?

There is no correct answer, except sideways. I've found that about 70% of people cartwheel with their hands pointing left, but you really shouldn't have to think about it. It's worth mentioning that the way you cartwheel has nothing to do with which hand you hold a pen. If a child is having trouble, get them to try the other side. Normally one side will feel awkward, the other won't. If you come across someone that just can't work it out, one way that might give you a hint... Ask the student to walk away from you then turn around and come back. The side they turn towards is normally the same side that they cartwheel on (works about 60-70% of the time).

With the box in the same orientation as activity 1, start by facing the box. Hands go sideways on the box, step over the box with one foot, step over with the other foot, and finish in a sideways star shape. Patterns help here - 'hands go sideways on the box, step, step, star'. Now, I've also seen this taught with the student starting in a star shape. I prefer the students to start by facing the box, as later on when they begin to learn a full cartwheel, they need to start facing forwards and lunge into the cartwheel. Starting in a star shape just adds unnecessary complexity, and can result in these horrible twisty looking things.

Is the student having trouble working out which way to face in the star at the end? Which way are your hands pointing on the box? Your cartwheel finishes with your bottom pointing the same way as your fingers did on the box (i.e. if our fingers point to the 'object in the room' then we finish with our bottom pointing to the 'object in the room').

As we get better at this drill, we can start to jump our feet over the box, and push down harder. Students will naturally get higher as their bodies become more familiar with the drill. (and yes, their cartwheels will at this stage most likely be lopsided - their legs will go at an angle anywhere from only just clearing the box, to close to vertical for the more experienced.

Continue Reading - Part 2 ?

Sports Blogs - The Blog Index

Facebook Like Have you liked us on Facebook?

If you or your kids like what we do, then please take a few seconds to show your support and like our Facebook page.

Back to the index

About the Author

Gary Black

Advanced Silver Mens Gymnastics Coach, Intermediate Womens Gymnastics Coach, Intermediate Kindergym Coach.

Gary began running gymnastics programs in schools in 2003. Initially as a casual staff member with another company, whilst studing teaching at Deakin University; and quickly becoming one of their managers. Gary went on to own what was the sole Victorian franchise of that company.

Whilst with that company, under Gary's leadership, Victorian customers enjoyed quality, reliability, flexibility, and understanding.

In mid 2014, to be able to better service the changing needs of schools, Gary decided to move away from a restrictive franchised business, and started Gymnastics 4 Hire, determined to keep the high standards that customers had come to enjoy, and to provide a service specifically tailored to the customers needs.

Share this article

share on Facebook share on Twitter share on Google+ share on LinkedIn submit to reddit share on StumbleUpon Share on Tumblr Subscribe to RSS


Be the first to comment on this...

Blog Directory & Business Pages -

Other Articles

Mon 13-Nov-2017
How your Body Balances

Tue 24-Oct-2017
Teaching Kids to Manage Risk

Tue 17-Oct-2017
Introducing FreeG

Fri 25-Aug-2017
Why children love to rotate: Let’s talk about the vestibular system.

Tue 25-Jul-2017
Fidget Spinners: Nightmare trend or fun educational tool?

Wed 10-May-2017
Student designed warm-up games.

Mon 19-Dec-2016
Adapt the game, change the outcome

Thu 21-Jul-2016
Gymnastics Colouring Sheets

Wed 06-Apr-2016
Workshop Summary 4-Apr-2016

Thu 28-Jan-2016
Making Mini-Tramps Safe

Sun 30-Aug-2015
How do I do the Splits?

Sun 30-Aug-2015
How Muscles Work

Sun 02-Aug-2015
Other Resource Links

Fri 24-Jul-2015
The Road to Lockington

Sun 19-Jul-2015
Finding the Right Gymnastics Club for You

Sun 12-Jul-2015
How To: Make a Scooter Board

Wed 13-May-2015
Counter Balances

Sat 09-May-2015
Teaching Forward Rolls (a.k.a. Somersault)

Sat 14-Feb-2015
To Stretch or Not to Stretch

Sat 07-Feb-2015
Super Scooters

Tue 27-Jan-2015
Boxes on a Basketball Court

Sun 25-Jan-2015
More P.E. Warm-Up Games

Fri 23-Jan-2015
Warm-up Games for School Gymnastics

Wed 21-Jan-2015
5 Simple Gymnastics Activities You Can Do at Home

Tue 20-Jan-2015
Fun with Beams and Benches

Sat 17-Jan-2015
Information for Parents

Thu 15-Jan-2015
There is no such thing as Practice Makes Perfect

Wed 07-Jan-2015
Teaching Cartwheels Part 2

Fri 26-Dec-2014
Gymnastics - Don't just outsource it

Mon 24-Nov-2014
The School Gymnastics Missing Link

Sun 14-Sep-2014
Teaching Children to Fall safely

Sun 07-Sep-2014
Reduce the risk of playground injuries with Gymnastics

Tue 26-Aug-2014
Teaching Cartwheels Part 1