How to Do a Back Handspring: The Best Drills and Exercises to Help You Learn

how to do a back handspring

A back handspring is a gymnastics skill that is a big milestone in a gymnast’s progression. And when a gymnast is trying to learn how to do a back handspring, she really wants to get it so bad. It can be a hard skill to learn because it is unlike any skill a gymnast has learned before. And since a back handspring requires a gymnast to push and jump backwards it can also create mental blocks. While it can be a hard skill to learn, it’s very exciting and fun when you finally master your back handspring. Here are the muscles you need, the drills you need to know how to do, and the steps to learning and mastering your back handspring.

Once you get your Back Handspring, Download a Back Handspring Club Certificate Here:Click Here to Download

Muscles you need for a Back handspring:

  • Legs– You need strong legs, this includes your quads, glutes and hamstrings, in order to do a back handspring. Your legs muscles help you push off the grmuscles back handspringound in the beginning of the back handspring onto your hands in a handstand position.
  • Arms and Shoulders– You need to have strong arms and shoulders for the middle part of the back handspring. You will use your shoulder and arm muscles to push against the floor in the handstand position during the back handspring to “snap” and land on your feet with your chest up.
  • Core– Your core stomach muscles help you maintain a tight-body position throughout the back handspring.

Exercises you can do at Home:

These are exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles you need to be able to do a back handspring. Most of the time the most important thing you can do at home to help yourself learn a new skill, is to strengthen the muscles you need.

    • Wall Sits– Put your back to a wall, and slide your bottom down as you move your feet away from the wall, to put your body in the shape of a chair. Your knees should be bent, and your thighs and calves should be perpendicular to each other. Try to hold this for 30 seconds-1 minute at a time. This exercise is good for strengthening your legs– your quads and hamstrings.
    • Planks- Get into a push-up position, making sure you squeeze your legs together tightly and are squeezing your core. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrists. You can either hold your plank position on your hands, or you can lower yourself to your forearms. Keep your head neutral. Try to hold your plank position for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. Planks help to strengthen your abs, back and shoulders.
    • Hollow Holds– A hollow hold is very similar to a plank except your arms are farther in front of you. To do a hollow hold, get into a push-up position. Then move your feet and arms farther away until you are in a tight hollow position with your arms tucked tightly between your ears. Your legs should be straight, and your bottom squeezed. You can see this demonstrated at the beginning of the video below.




  • Squats- To do a proper squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart with your arms by your side. Lower yourself down as far as you can by pushing your hips back and moving your body weight on to your heels. Let your arms come up to help you balance. You don’t want your knees to go over your ankles. Your toes should be pointed forwards. Then stand up slowly again. Try to do them in sets of 10. Squats help to strengthen your quads, glutes and hamstrings.
  • Sumo Squats- Sumo squats are similar to regular squats except your legs are farther apart and your toes are pointed slightly out. Stand with your feet a little larger than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed at a 45° angle. As with a regular squat, lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. The weight of your body should be on your heels. Then stand back up again slowly. Sumo Squats strengthen your hamstrings, quads and glutes.
  • Pull-Ups– Pull-ups help to strengthen your upper-body, your arms and shoulders. You can do both pull-ups and chin-ups with a pull-up bar for arm strength. For pull-ups you hold the bar with your fingers facing away from your body, and pull your chin over the bar. For chin-ups you hold the bar with your fingers facing towards your body.
  • Arch/Hollows on a Pull-Up Bar- You can work your core muscles, and also practice the shape from the middle of the back handspring when you do arch/hollow holds on a pull-up bar. In  the middle of the back handspring your body goes from a slight arch position getting into the handstand, to a slight hollow position as you snap down. To do arch/hollows on a pull-up bar hang from the bar in a slightly arched position. Make sure you are squeezing your legs, butt and core.  Then move your body to a slight hollow position, making sure you are still squeezing your legs, butt and core. Repeat this. Try to do 10 reps at a time. You can see this exercise in the video below.

Back Handspring Drills you should be able to do at the gym:

These are back handspring drills you should be able to do before you attempt to do a back handspring with a spot. These are drills you need to do at a gym because they require equipment, mats, and a spot.

  • Handstand Snap-Down Drill– The handstand snap down drill is the second half of the back handspring. Do a handstand on a mat, and then bring your feet down fast to land with your chest up. The goal is to push through your shoulders and get your chest up fast.
  • Sit, Fall, Push onto Mat Stack– The push-backs drill is the second part of the back handspring. The goal is to explode backwards to a tight body position on a mat stack by pushing through your legs. One of the main reasons for the drill is to get comfortable with the feeling of sitting and leaning back. The other point is to learn to push hard through your legs.
  • Back handspring over the Barrel– The goal of the back handspring over the barrel drill is to help you learn the mechanics of the back handspring. It’s to help the gymnast practice the steps- sit, lean, push back through the legs onto your hands in a handstand position, and then snap your legs down to a stand.
  • Back handspring on the Trampoline– You should be able to do a back handspring in a tight body position well on the trampoline before moving it to the floor.

I’ve embedded a video that has excellent back handspring drills below. Do not attempt any of the drills in this video that require a spot, or those for which you don’t have the proper equipment.

Back Handspring Drills you can do at Home:

These are back handspring drills you can do at home to help improve the skills you need for a back handspring.

  • Handstand Against the Wall– In order to be able to do a good back handspring, you should be able to hold a handstand against the wall in a tight body position, with arms and legs straight and tight and your bottom squeezed, for at least a minute.
  • Bridges– You can practice bridges at home. Make sure you push back and try to get your legs straight in the bridge. You should be feel the stretch in your shoulders. You need shoulder flexibility for a back handspring.

Once you have strengthened the muscles you need for a back handspring, and learned how to do the back handspring drills above, then you can start trying to do a back handspring with a spot. Do not attempt a back handspring by yourself without a spot. You need to be in a gym with a trained coach. They can spot your back handsprings, until they are comfortable with you being able to do them by yourself.

Tools for Learning a Back Handspring

Here are some of the tools and gymnastics equipment mentioned above that help you learn how to do a back handspring.

tools for learning a backhandspring

 

Pull-Up Bar– A Pull-Up bar is useful for some of the strength exercises listed above. You can also use a pull-up bar to do a couple of the drills in the video.

Block– A block is used in the video, and it can also be used for the handstand snap-down drill mentioned above.

Panel Mat– A folded up panel mat can be used for the handstand snap-down drill.

Barrel– Most gymnasts learn the steps to a back handspring with a barrel. Don’t attempt this without being spotted first!

Exercise Bands– Exercise bands can be used for many strength exercises, and are also used for some drills in the video.

Back Handspring How-To Video– This Back Handspring tutorial video is by Dominique Moceanu, an Olympic Gold medalist. You can download the video to watch immediately.

8- Inch Mat– An 8 inch mat is shown in the video for some of the back handspring drills.  You should always learn new gymnastics skills on mats before attempting them on the floor.

I’ve listed the steps you need to take and drills you need to be able to do in order to learn a back handspring. But, it is still a hard skill and will take time to learn. You will need to do it many times with a spot, before you should attempt it by yourself. Once you have learned your back handspring though, I’m sure you will feel a sense of accomplishment and it will be worth it! Good Luck 🙂

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52 comments… add one
  • gymnastics December 4, 2016, 6:14 pm

    Sooooo hard!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Anyomous December 5, 2016, 8:15 pm

      Gymnastics,
      I dont know if you want any tips but if you need some here are some tips that I used to get mine:
      1. Get a spot, I know you have probably been told before but it is helpful!
      2. Do it over/ onto pillows! If you get it, slowly take away the pillows until you are comfortable doing completly on your own!
      3. YouTube. If all else fails, YouTube will always be waiting for you

      Hope this helped!

      Reply
      • Death magnet December 4, 2017, 1:09 pm

        Oh this is rubbish
        But yours did work

        Reply
  • annonomous December 29, 2016, 1:52 pm

    I have been trying to get a backhandspring for about two years now i did one while i was practising about a week ago but even though i know i can do one im still to scared to do it again has anyone got any tips

    Reply
    • Isa December 30, 2016, 2:16 am

      Sometimes it’s just about facing your fears headfirst and doing it. Let me tell you, I started gymnastics a few months ago and recently I was taught how to do a dive roll. I was absolutely mortified, I was so scared of cracking my neck and dying that my own fear stood in my way and the way of my progress! A few minutes later I told my coach that I would do it (I was super motivated :p ) and he told me that it was really good but I didn’t jump at all… The more I worked on it, the better I got! So, moral of the story, don’t let fear stand in the way of you and your progress and after all, the coach is there to help you! (If you don’t have an instructor/coach, find a friend that can spot you)

      Reply
    • Isa December 30, 2016, 2:17 am

      Sometimes it’s just about facing your fears headfirst and doing it. Let me tell you, I started gymnastics a few months ago and recently I was taught how to do a dive roll. I was absolutely mortified, I was so scared of cracking my neck and dying that my own fear stood in my way and the way of my progress! A few minutes later I told my coach that I would do it (I was super motivated :p ) and he told me that it was really good but I didn’t jump at all… The more I worked on it, the better I got! So, moral of the story, don’t let fear stand in the way of you and your progress and after all, the coach is there to help you! (If you don’t have an instructor/coach, find a friend that can spot you) Good luck!!

      Reply
    • Mckain June 29, 2017, 12:16 am

      Hey! I know the feeling.
      I’m 11 and I recently started Teaching my self gymnastics.

      I’m scared of going into a back bend on one foot, but you just have to reassure yourself and DO IT! You can scream if you’d like, that helped me get my front walkover while I was afraid of it.

      Hope I helped!
      <3

      Reply
    • Gymnastics, Cheer, Dance July 13, 2017, 1:55 pm

      Hey so everyone is scared when they are learning a skill like this. That is part of how we are made. IF you aren’t scared, you aren’t human. If you don’t have anyone to spot you, go to a drop in gymnastics class/clinic where there are trained coaches that will give you a spot. Part of not getting hurt when you do this is you have to go for it 100%. my sister didnt go for it and she hurt her back. she landed in an arch. So basically if you are going to do it, do it the right way and don’t chicken out. GOOD LUCK!!!! youve totally got this and you will get it sooner or later so dont stress it.

      Reply
    • Acrobat#1 August 14, 2017, 11:03 am

      How tall are you? If you are short you have a better advantage at a back handspring and you get over your fears easier… I am 11 years old and 4’4″ so I would have an advantage.

      Reply
    • jj August 26, 2017, 7:41 pm

      i see why you are having problems and it can just be about facing your fears. for example, when i was young i did a backflip and almost broke my neck. i was traumatized for a while and never even thought about attempting one again. 6 years later and i don’t even need a trampoline to do a backflip!! it’s all about confidence and if you have confidence in yourself then you can do whatever you put your mind to!! best of luck <3

      Reply
    • bree August 27, 2017, 4:31 pm

      just comite or have a spot do less every time

      Reply
    • Audrey Whitehouse September 2, 2017, 4:08 am

      So my friend has been wanting her back handspring for a while now and today at practice I just told her to throw it no matter what. Guess what? She got it. She bent her arms and her feet were apart but she got over her mental block!!! Just go for it!!! Good luck

      Reply
    • Anna October 6, 2017, 6:53 am

      You have to fail to not be scared! I only just got my back walkover last night and I’d been working on it for years but was too scared to actually do so, until I failed last night, well I didn’t fail at back walkover but at backbend kickover. When I was going into backbend (legs apart) I fell on my hands and they bent, and it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would so I tried full back walkover and did it because I wasn’t scared about falling because of standing on one leg!!!

      Reply
      • Death magnet December 4, 2017, 1:10 pm

        I can’t do it

        Reply
    • Anna October 6, 2017, 6:55 am

      You have to fail to not be scared! I only just got my back walkover last night and I’d been working on it for years but was too scared to actually do so, until I failed last night, well I didn’t fail at back walkover but at backbend kickover. When I was going into backbend (legs apart) I fell on my hands and they bent, and it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would so I tried full back walkover and did it because I wasn’t scared about falling because of standing on one leg!!!!

      Reply
  • Annonomous January 6, 2017, 6:16 pm

    Thanks I asked my coach to spot me now I can always do it

    Reply
  • Anonymous January 20, 2017, 1:18 pm

    I am super scared! Plz help!

    Reply
    • kry July 9, 2017, 11:53 am

      when I push from the ground and into the bhs my arms just become weak even though iknow i have the strength

      Reply
  • Gymnast for life January 21, 2017, 9:58 am

    Will this be good for a report?

    Reply
  • Gymnast for life January 21, 2017, 9:59 am

    Will this be good for a school report?

    Reply
  • Annie February 3, 2017, 10:11 pm

    I wish i had a back handspring

    Reply
    • Gymnastics, Cheer, Dance July 13, 2017, 1:56 pm

      You do now right?

      Reply
  • Gymnast February 10, 2017, 2:55 pm

    How strong do you need to be to get your back handspring? Like how many push ups do you need to be able to do to be able to do a back handspring? How many tuck ups, sit ups, etc.

    Reply
    • gymnasticshq April 10, 2017, 11:32 am

      Every gymnast is different! So I would say just try to get as strong as possible 🙂

      Reply
      • arsh zain June 15, 2017, 11:11 pm

        You are very beautiful so sweet i l u this

        Reply
  • Emily April 5, 2017, 10:51 pm

    Can you do a how-to on back tucks?

    Reply
    • gymnasticshq April 10, 2017, 11:32 am

      I will add it to my list!

      Reply
  • Laila April 11, 2017, 5:23 pm

    I have spoke to many people about this and you are my last chance!!! Okay so let’s begin about a week ago when I got my back handspring!!! First I did some backwalkovers and then I swung into my backwalkover and then I moved my feet and did a back handspring I did that for an hour and a half and then I went in for my dinner and I come back out again 3 hours after I did my back handspring and my body wouldn’t allow me to do it!!! I kept swinging but I kept falling onto my back and then I had to do the backwalkover swingy thing again and I got it then I go to bed wake up and I’m scared!!! LITERALLY!!! My body wouldn’t allow me to even backwalkover so I just gave up and three days after I went on my trampoline and I did the backwalkover thingy AGAIN and I got it and next day I went to tumbling class I get supported on my back handspring on trampoline and I get shadowed and I did it but after I had I drink I couldn’t do it again!!! I had to get my coach to spot me and I did it and someone took a video of me and he wasn’t even spotting me!!! I kept doing it on my own until I went home and went to go on my trampoline on the next morning and then I couldn’t do it I had to do the backwalkover thingy again!!! And I go in to get my phone come back out and I forget it and have to do the backwalkover thingy!!! Also the backwalkover thingy takes about an hour to do so the main point I need help with is that I have only a couple of days to get it and I will be moved up to level 2 but if I don’t get it I will have to quit because I’m too old for level 1!!! And I can’t keep doing this backwalkover thingy or keep getting spotted by my coach because at comps I can’t do that!!! PLEASE help!!!!

    Reply
    • bri May 18, 2017, 2:43 pm

      lailia i got my backhandspring a year ago and i had your same problem what i did was just jump back on my bed until i got the hang of gong back.

      Reply
    • bri May 18, 2017, 2:44 pm

      lailia, i got my backhandspring a year ago and i had your same problem what i did was just jump back on my bed until i got the hang of gong back.

      Reply
  • Gymnast April 17, 2017, 8:59 pm

    I am able to do a back handspring on a trampoline by myself and on the floor with a spot but I keep undercutting and when I bend about to jump my knees go over my toes. How do I fix this problem and do you know any drills for that?

    Reply
  • Victoria April 26, 2017, 6:37 am

    I did 4 backhandsprings at practice Last week, but yesterday I couldn’t do anymore. I’m not afraid of jumping back, but my legs keep splitting like a back walkover, so my back handspring look more like I jumped into a back walkover. Someone please tell me how to keep my legs together!!

    Reply
    • Simply✨Southern April 28, 2017, 9:07 am

      If you take a scrunchie or headband and put it around your ankles, then try to do your backhandspring, it should keep your legs together

      Reply
      • nikkita June 19, 2017, 1:03 pm

        ok il try hopefully it works it sounds like a good idea

        Reply
  • Jevorn June 7, 2017, 8:40 pm

    how do you get over the fear of doing a backhandspring

    Reply
    • nikkita June 19, 2017, 1:02 pm

      im scared to your brain is just thinking of the bad side think of the good side i know you can do it just conqure your fears i need to do the same aswell

      Reply
  • nikkita June 19, 2017, 12:58 pm

    i can do a bounce back walkover were i go into a back walkover slowly then when im ready i jump back i also have the same problem i cant keep my feet together i just have to do my bounce backwalkover thingy faster but then il have a nothern problem cuz it will look like a jump back walkover

    Reply
  • nikkita June 19, 2017, 12:59 pm

    im just also scared at the same time how do i get over my fear!!!

    Reply
  • Scared June 25, 2017, 6:27 pm

    So, I have been trying to learn my back handspring for a year now, and I can’t get over my fear of falling and breaking my neck. Any suggestions anyone? I have a trampoline but no mat. I have nobody to spot me on it and I don’t do gymnastics so I’m self taught. If anyone could help or has had previous expierence and gotten over their fear, please share.

    Reply
    • Gymnastics, Cheer, Dance July 13, 2017, 1:54 pm

      Hey, so everyone is scared when they are learning a skill like this. That is part of how we are made. IF you aren’t scared, you aren’t human. If you don’t have anyone to spot you, go to a drop in gymnastics class/clinic where there are trained coaches that will give you a spot. Part of not getting hurt when you do this is you have to go for it 100%. my sister didnt go for it and she hurt her back. she landed in an arch. So basically if you are going to do it, do it the right way and don’t chicken out. GOOD LUCK!!!! youve totally got this and you will get it sooner or later so dont stress it.

      Reply
  • gymnastics medal hanger July 7, 2017, 4:25 am

    Really informative blog, thanks for sharing the steps for the back handspring, this will definitely help the readers who are the gymnast. Keep sharing some more techniques of gymnastic with us. Waiting for the more helpful articles.

    Reply
  • The talented one July 8, 2017, 7:58 am

    I can’t open my shoulders enough in my bhs, any tips

    Reply
  • Sam July 20, 2017, 6:16 pm

    I got my round off backhand spring today, and I feel like I accomplished SO MUCH because I broke one finger and sprained another doing it. And I also got my backwalk over on beam too. Some tips are doing your “Fall sit jump” which is when you fall back against the wall and then sit in your chair shape and then jump. And doing your heel drive drills. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Turtle lover August 1, 2017, 12:24 pm

    I could do a backwalkover and stuff and I’m praticing doing the backhandspring position then jump on my back to a mattress but I’m to afraid of hurting my neck if my arms go out in the middle of the back handspring

    Reply
    • MJS August 9, 2017, 11:51 am

      That is exactly how I feel!! I still don’t have it and I just can’t get over it. If you find something that helps, please tell me.

      Reply
  • Acrobat#1 August 14, 2017, 10:58 am

    I did my backhandspring on my first attempt on the floor, now I am trying to learn my back aerial I have been trying for 2 days and can’t get a high enough jump. I am 11 and 4’4″ so it is really hard to get height any ideas? Thanks

    Reply
  • Acrobat#1 August 14, 2017, 11:07 am

    Not really I did it on my first attempt ever

    Reply
  • Me August 25, 2017, 1:59 am

    Hello I can already do one but im trying to teach my friend one. I will pin and show her this because she needs to learn the jumping backwards and the shapes. She has nerves about doing it but I tell her its ok. I have a trampoline,pull up bar, a small panel mat I can make into a block, stretchy bands and my panel mat is in the mail so I will need to teach her on tramp first. (•ө•)♡

    Reply
  • oarjp October 2, 2017, 5:17 pm

    I am a awesome gymnast I have a yurchenko and all of this advice is wrong

    Reply
  • oarjp October 2, 2017, 5:17 pm

    I am an awesome gymnast I have a yurchenko and all of this advice is wrong

    Reply
    • Someone October 3, 2017, 8:30 am

      To you, this site might be a waste of time but for others, it really helps. I read the comments on one of my posts and found it really helpful. By reading the posts and having my mom spot me on the ground, I got my bhs. Because you have already gotten yours, you probably don’t remember getting it. It was probably not a piece of cake and you probably had to get stronger to get it. If you don’t like the advice, just don’t use it.

      Reply
  • Anna November 26, 2017, 12:10 pm

    What about if you cant go to the gym and have no spotter

    Reply

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