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Coach Wayne, I am considering getting your video for my daughter who is on an all-star cheer squad. She is 5 and just got her roundoff back handspring. We call it her "headspring" for obvious reasons. She lets her head touch about 8 out of 10 times. She claims it does not hurt and is determined to keep throwing them. She is so proud of herself! I am working with her at home on her handstands and she even has tiny weights that she sits and presses when she watches cartoons. Her coaches are great. They say that they are trying to correct the problem. They said it is not so much
her arms because she is pretty strong for her 39lb body
but she sits too low going into the back handspring and
leans too far back on her heels that she is not getting enough height so her hands are landing about where her feet have left the ground. What would be a good way to correct that so that she is using her head for other things? Do you address those type of issues on your video?

Thank you.

Hey, Elizabeth,

The headspring phenomena is usually a combination of two errors.
1) the arms aren't "reaching" back down to the floor aggressively enough. This may be due to an incomplete "shoulder-open" position. Have her practice a few simple back bridges (Arch Stands) before each handspring. When she's UP in the archstand make sure her FEET are together with straight legs and that the SHOULDERS areas OPEN
as possible, ideally pushed as far AWAY from the feet as possible. As an advance on this position, have the feet off the floor and UP
against the wall. Then have her perform a few
PUSH-UPS in that position.

2)The leg push (jump/rebound) at the beginning of the skill is upwards rather than backward. If the jump at the beginning of the handspring is too high, all her weight (small as she is) lands straight down and drives her head into the floor, like a rock being tossed into the water and sinking to the bottom. Ultimately, what you're aiming for is a backward motion in which her arms are just one more force (contact) that continues to move her body back across the surface of the floor, more like a rock skipping across the water.

I recommend a "push back" exercise onto a wedge or 12"/porta-pit mat. This is just a straight jump back, landing FLAT on the back. This exercise re-orients her body to driving BACKWARDS rather than upwards. For the next few months have her perform one or two "push-back" repetitions IMMEDIATELY before attempting a standing handspring.


Have fun, be safe, push hard.

You may also be interested in the following:
(FLASH player permission is required to view animations.)
Back Tuck Progressions
Benchmarks of Excellence
Cross Arm Spot 
Gymnastics Jump
Jump, Set, Tuck
Lunge to Handstand 
Round-Off Hand Placement
Straight Body Fall


Coach Wayne was the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos, and books have been used by students and instructors worldwide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for tumbling instructor certification training. For booking information, coaches/owners should text or call 912.238.1747.


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