Mostly Cloudy   75.0F  |  Forecast »

How To Do a Cartwheel - VIDEO

Help your child learn this carefree basic gymnastics move in our MetroParent.com How-to video!

Ah, cartwheels. These jubilant expressions of joy or happiness (at least in musicals) are quintessential kid. Picture your childhood: It's summertime. The living is easy, as the song goes, and you're running around, shoes off, spirits high. You launch into a cartwheel. You extend your arms, reach for the ground, legs flip into the air, gravity kicks in, and plop. You're sitting in the cool, soft grass. Or, maybe not. Maybe you mastered it and are right back where you started. Upright with a smile.

If that's your child's goal or yours – perhaps you're trying to recapture some of your carefree youth – read on.

It's a perfect "little lesson" for the last month of summer.

A cartwheel is a simple, core gymnastics move, and one of the first things an aspiring gymnast will learn. When performed, the move resembles the spokes of a turning wheel, hence the name. In a traditional cartwheel, the hands come down on the floor, one at a time, while the feet turn sideways over the head, landing one at a time. More advanced variations include the one-handed cartwheel, the no-handed cartwheel (aerial) and the round-off (where both feet land at the same time).

Since doing a cartwheel involves turning completely upside down, it can be scary for beginners. That's why Coach Amy Fringer of Novi's Michigan Elite Gymnastics Academy recommends easing into the process. Find a nice, wide open space, like your backyard. "This is not the kind of activity for your living room," warns Fringer. You may be able to practice in your basement, but be smart – make sure there is plenty of padding to cushion your little one's inevitable falls.

Ideally, you would begin by having your child place her hands on a slightly elevated (8-10 inches), cushioned surface. In a gym, they would use a panel mat; at home, perhaps you have a step or a stool you can cover for the same effect – just make sure you can keep it from sliding. Keeping her hands stationary, have her jump, moving her legs from one side to the other side, getting her used to that motion. When she is comfortable with that, have her continue that motion, but land only one foot at a time. Again, when she is comfortable, remove the elevated surface and continue to practice getting her feet from one side to the other, landing one foot at a time. Slow progression and repetition are key to building confidence and preparing her for the next step.

By now, your child is probably itching to do a real cartwheel. First, find her dominant side. Have her stand with her arms over her head in a "10 and 2" position (mirroring where those numbers are on a clock), then sway to the left and lift the right leg. Come back to the starting position and sway to the right, lifting the left leg. After a few tries, your child should feel a definite preference to her dominant side, the side that feels more steady. If your child is left-sided (the more common of the two), then you can follow these directions exactly. If she is right-sided, reverse the directions:

Have her stand with her arms over her head, body straight, with her left foot extended in front of her right. With momentum, have her step down with left foot, lifting her right leg while simultaneously placing her left hand on the ground, quickly followed by her right hand while swinging her left leg over her head. She will land on the other side, right leg first and be facing the opposite direction from where she started. It sounds complicated, but it's a natural progression when you actually test it out.

The most difficult part of the process is gaining the necessary momentum for her to swing her legs fully over her head. Some tips? Try practicing on a downhill. It's a little more intimidating, but Mr. Gravity will work his magic. You can also have your child take a running head start, but this is recommended for an older child with better gross motor skills. To help keep things in line, consider putting tape down, or some other visual guide for your child to follow. Sometimes, though, the best instruction is to lead by example. Why not try a few cartwheels of your own? Your little one is bound to get a kick out of it, and you may capture some of the childhood charm of landing a cartwheel.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Easy Lunch Wraps for School Lunches

Easy Lunch Wraps for School Lunches

Skip the bread and use tortillas to make one of these recipes for your kid's lunchbox.

Egg-Freezing Parties for Career Women Not Ready to be Moms

Egg-Freezing Parties for Career Women Not Ready to be Moms

Company EggBanxx just took fertility awareness to a new level, complete with cocktails and swank. Will the trend help? Will it stick? Or is this all a bit much?

AHA Arts Clear-Cling Stamps Are Fun for Paper Crafts

AHA Arts Clear-Cling Stamps Are Fun for Paper Crafts

For a creative, offbeat alternative to woodblock stamping, try these cool tools that add a great look to your DIY projects. Buy them here in southeast Michigan.

Craft Roundup: Small Projects to Make with Washi Tape, Confetti, More

Craft Roundup: Small Projects to Make with Washi Tape, Confetti, More

Tiny stuff is terrific! This roundup of DIY fun from various blogs shows you how to make matchbook notebooks, gift bags, stickers and bitty butterflies.

Frustrated Mom Creates App to Stop Teens from Ignoring Calls

Frustrated Mom Creates App to Stop Teens from Ignoring Calls

One mother got sick of her kids blowing off her phone calls, so she created an app to make it impossible. Stroke of genius – or an overstep of parental bounds?

Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes

Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes

Combine ice cream with cookies and you've got the perfect dessert combination. Whip up one of these cool treats with the kids!

Vintage Summer Pins Made from Old Belt Buckles

Vintage Summer Pins Made from Old Belt Buckles

A perfect summer craft, this DIY project is centered around used plastic accessories, which are cheap finds at garage sales and thrift stores.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement