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10 Basic Gymnastics Skills That You Should Master

basic gymnastics skills

If you'd like to be a gymnast and have this vision to compete at the Olympic level, here's a heads up. You need to practice a lot and master a number of skills. It's a long journey, and your basics have to be strong. 

Here are the 10 basic skills that you should first focus on. Most of these skills are a part of artistic gymnastics. These helps as you move from beginner to advanced and professional level. Let’s take a look.

1) Forward Roll

Forward Roll

Rolls are elementary and foundational when we talk about gymnastics. Forward rolls are again very basic where you have to rotate your body along the floor's surface.

You have to tumble basically. Stand straight initially. Then lower yourself down and push off the floor over your head and on your back.

2) Backward Roll

Once you can do the forward roll, you will also be able to do the backward roll because it's just the reverse of the former.

As you make this tumble backward, make sure that you lean slightly and strongly push off the floor with your hands over your head. Keep your legs straight, and when you bend, you have to make a squat or sitting position.

3) Split

Splits are performed in not only gymnastics but also various other athletic activities like dancing, yoga, etc.

In gymnastics, these can be side splits or front and back splits.

For side splits, you extend the legs left and right. For front splits, one leg is extended forward and the other one to the rear end of your body.

The athlete needs to take care of the angle. You have to work on your stretches to get the splits right and make sure the torso faces straight. Your butt has to be square with the body.

4) Cast

The cast is performed on uneven bars. You have to pull off the floor, your upper body, and legs at the same time.

Your core strength is important here. Your legs, arms, and body have to be straight. For the cast handstand, you have to achieve a vertical and straight handstand position.

If you have to move to advanced bar skills, you will first have to master the cast handstands.

5) Pullover

Pullovers require you to pull up your body so you can put your legs both around the bar and above the bar. You first start with walking pullovers and then move to stand pullovers.

When you do a pullover, make sure your fingers are away from you, and your legs are together when you flip over. Your arms need to be straight after you finish the flip.

For standing pullovers, you have to swing your legs under the bar together. Do work on your abdominal and arm strength for pullovers.

To work on your arm strength, legs, and core strength, you can do a number of exercises like planks, lunges, etc. To learn more on strength training, check out our article on strength training for gymnasts fundamentals.

6) Cartwheel

You must have seen the spokes of a moving cart. Precisely for the similar resemblance, this skill is named so.

It involves inverting the body sideways and then standing upright at the end. Again this is performed in a number of other athletic activities as well. 

For gymnastic purposes, make sure your stronger leg is in front and the weaker leg at the back when you are about to begin the forward lunge for the cartwheel.

The back has to be straight, and your core should be kept tight. These are usually done as part of floor exercises or on the balancing beam. Here is a more detailed post on how to do a cartwheel.

7) Handstand

Another basic skill for gymnastics is the handstand. Since you have to balance your body on your hands in an inverted vertical position, your arms and shoulders have to be strong.

It improves your balancing skills. You are supposed to practice it on the floor, then it is also useful for bars, on the beam, and used when you do the front handspring on vault.

Be careful while shifting your weight. Keep your legs together when you are straight upside. You should also point your toes out.

8) Round-off

Round-off is different from the cartwheel. When it comes to round-off, both your feet are supposed to land together. However, in the case of a cartwheel, it's the opposite - it is one foot at a time.

The start is, however, the same as that of the cartwheel. You can first practice cartwheels and then go with round-offs, and you'll find them easier. These prepare you for handsprings and other tumbling tricks.

9) Tap swing on bars

It is also called the hollow-arch-hollow swing. You go hollow in the back in the beginning, then arch through the bottom and again kick to get a hollow in the front. That means you have to push away from the bar. You have to be careful about your body position and timing in case of tap swings.

10) Handspring on vault

You jump off the springboard after a little run and then land to get a stationary position for the handspring. Your arms, legs, and core have to be strong to do the handspring efficiently.

Your butt has to be tucked in. Handsprings require rigidity and not flexibility. Furthermore, you have to learn how to hold positions.

Conclusion

All these basic skills help to improve your positions and postures, dexterity, flexibility and balance. The more you practice on these, the more professional you get. So spend a considerable time on getting better at these 10 basic yet super important skills.

You can break all these into smaller steps and then master accordingly. There are marks for little steps and things like posture, straight arms, legs, etc. Never lose your patience.

A thing like a handspring can take as long as 6 months to be on point. In fact, it can be longer! So be consistent without losing your heart. Once you have mastered these basics, you can check out other advanced moves.