How to do a Cartwheel

Cara DevenneySkills and Technique1 Comment


Cartwheels. A cartwheel is a gymnastics skill that is one of the first skills taught to a young gymnast. Cartwheels are so popular and common that your little gymnast probably was doing them before even entering gymnastics. If your gymnast is working towards tumbling, cartwheels are one of the first steps.

Cartwheels are super familiar with kids, it is like everywhere I go I see a kid trying to do one. I am not sure if it is always intentional, but it happens!

Sometimes trying to understand and perfect a cartwheel can be tough, so below I have written step-by-step on how to do a cartwheel in case you or your little gymnast gets stuck, or just simply want to improve!

Step one: Stand in the direction you would like to go

If you would like to go forward, place your body standing facing forward. If you would like to go to the right, place your body facing right. And if you would like to go to the left, place your body facing to the left. No matter what direction you want to go, this first step is pretty basic.

Step two: Stand in a lunge position

After you figured out which direction you want to go, get yourself into a lunge position with your arms straight up in the air. Place your strongest leg forward (just right in front of you) and bend it slightly. Your other leg should be kept straight behind you.

Step three: Look in front of you

When trying to do a cartwheel (or learning) you want to keep your body straight, and you want to go in a straight direction. Before you take another step, make sure everything in front of you is cleared out of the way and have it in your mindset that you want to stay as straight as possible. Sometimes placing masking tape on the ground can be a useful guide.

*If your gymnast owns an at-home balance beam, just lay out the balance beam next to you to also help guide you in a straight position. 

Step four: Using your hands

Now you want to place your strongest hand (the same side as your strongest leg) on the ground and lift up your back leg (the leg that was straight, not slightly bent). If your right leg is the one that was slightly bent, place your right hand on the ground. If it was your left leg that was slightly bent, then place your left hand on the ground.

*I want to say the positioning does not have anything to do with your dominant hand. For example, I do everything with my right hand. I eat, brush my teeth, write, drive, etc. with my right hand, however, I lunge forward with my left leg and use my left hand first when performing a cartwheel. 

Step five: In-action handstand

After you placed your strongest hand down, you want to lift your back leg (by kicking it up) and place your other hand on the ground at the same time. It is basically like going into a handstand if you would like to imagine it. Your arms should be spread apart at this point, I would say about shoulder width.

Step six: Make sure your legs are positioned right

When you are doing step five, it is important to make sure that your legs are in a v-shape position. You will be in a straddle position and balancing yourself by mainly using your arms- but the v-shape position is key because it helps you stick the land.

Step seven: Sticking the land

As you are trying to stick the landing and get off the cartwheel, you want to step down by placing your “non-strongest” leg on the ground first along with your “non-strongest” hand at the same time.

Step eight: The final move

After you place your “non-strongest” leg and hand on the ground, your lead leg and hand will follow and you will kind of be in a downward dog position.

When you are landing you have to make sure that you are landing in a lunge, exactly how you started.

The only difference between the landing lunge verses the starting lunge is that your strongest leg will be the one in the back, and your “weaker” leg will be the one that is slightly bent in front of you plus you will be facing the opposite way. Just like you started- make sure your arms are straight in the air!

Before performing a cartwheel it is major that you stretch your muscles to prevent injury. You will mainly be using a lot of upper-body and core strength so make sure to take time to loosen up! 

Please feel free to comment below and give any advice or feedback when it comes to learning how to do a cartwheel.

Disclaimer: This information is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

One Comment on “How to do a Cartwheel”

  1. Pingback: 5 Essential Gymnastics Basics

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