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How To Do A Cartwheel [Steps And Exercises To Help You Improve]

How to do a cartwheel

Have you ever seen someone perform a cartwheel and think that it seems easy to pull off? While cartwheels aren’t too difficult to perform, they do need a bit of practice for you to get the hang of them and eventually perfect them. 

Perfecting the cartwheel has a bit of science involved in it. But do not despair, I’ve compiled a step-by-step guide on what goes into performing the perfect cartwheel.


What is a cartwheel?

Before I get into the how’s of performing a cartwheel, let’s first analyze what a cartwheel is.

Why are cartwheels called cartwheels? Simply because when you perform the cartwheel, the movements of your arms and legs resemble what a turning cartwheel would look like. They are in essence an acrobatic movement in which your body moves in a rotational sideways motion along a straight line.

So now that we’ve understood what a cartwheel is, let’s move on to how to do one.

How to do a cartwheel: step by step

Step 1:- Position yourself correctly

To do so you’ll need to identify your dominant leg and position it in the front in a slightly bent position.

Your other leg needs to be positioned towards the back and should be straight. Your arms need to be positioned above your head near your ears and should be straight. 

Step 2:- lean forward

For the next step, you will need to lean forward and shift your weight onto your dominant leg (the one in front) whilst lifting your back leg.

Your back legs will need to be parallel to the ground. While performing this step, your arms will stay positioned near your ears.

Step 3:- Hands touching ground

Now you will need to continue to lean forward slowly until your hands touch the ground below.

The position of your arms is important, and they will have to be at a shoulder-width length apart and a 90-degree angle.

Step 4:- Kick the back dominant leg off the ground

The next step might seem a bit daunting and chances are that you might not be able to achieve it in the first few tries but practice makes perfect. You will now have to kick the back dominant leg off the ground and over your body.

The front leg will follow and will be positioned in what resembles the splits. Remember that your legs will have to be facing straight to the ceiling and not to the sides.

Step 5:- land in a lunge position with less dominant leg in front

Now comes the landing. You’ll need to land in a lunge position but this time with your less dominant leg in the front. Make sure to square your body and hips when you make the landing.

Then continue to bring the other leg down making sure it is parallel to the ground making sure to lean forwards whilst your arms are still positioned at your ears.

Starting easy: The Baby Cartwheel

I can understand the frustration you might feel when you can't seem to position yourself correctly. The good news is that you aren’t doing as bad as you think you are. You might be performing what is known as a baby cartwheel and I can assure you, that’s how most of us began our cartwheeling.

Cartwheels are performed correctly when both your legs are positioned vertically over your head, which is easier said than done. Instead, you can start by kicking your legs off onto the sides instead of over your head on what is called a “baby cartwheel.”

Once you get the hang of the baby cartwheel you can slowly move onto the actual cartwheel.

The Bunny Hop Cartwheel

If you find yourself in a position that the baby cartwheel seems easy enough to achieve but you still aren’t quite there with the actual cartwheel, I have good news for you.

You can try out another variant of the cartwheel known as the bunny hop as practice.

  1. 1
    For the bunny hop cartwheel, you’ll start in a squatting position where your butt will be resting on the heels of your foot. Your feet will be placed together, and your hands will be front-facing.
  2. 2
    Moving your hands 90 degrees away from where you’re facing, place them both on the ground. Make sure that your arms are positioned as straight as you can keep them
  3. 3
    With your hands on the ground, push your bum into the air while simultaneously kicking your feet towards your butt.

I usually recommend picturing yourself jumping over an object such as a beam and then place your feet back down in the opposite direction when you begin.

Slowly as you get the hang of this cartwheel, you can change things over by starting in a lunge instead of a squat.

3 Tools that will help you for learning Cartwheel

Here are 3 tools that I always suggest to make learning easy.

The first suggestion is to try to learn the move over an object and there is nothing better than using a cartwheel block.

The reason why I suggest this is because it is considerably easier to kick your feet over or around your head with your hands a little above the ground when you use the block.

It will also help the gymnast determine which side will be their dominant side when they use this tool to tumble.

I also suggest foam training beams especially if the gymnast has learned how to cartwheel.

The training beam will ensure that the gymnast is performing a straight cartwheel since it is at a height but not high enough to allow the gymnast to hurt themselves if they don’t nail the landing.

My third suggestion is a sticky beam strip that helps gymnasts practice on a line when they don’t want to use tape or chalk.

You can just use the strip by putting it down and when you’re done simply pick it back up! This is also very useful in ensuring that you’re doing the cartwheel over your head.

Practice Tips

You can achieve upper body strength by doing handstands against a wall. Upper body strength is vital when it comes to gymnastics. But make sure you do your handstands on a soft surface to avoid getting hurt.

If you can’t get a professional coach to help you out, I always recommend watching different cheerleading videos to get a grasp of the technique involved.

So there you have it. A simple guide on how to perform what seems like a complicated move. With time and effort, you’ll be cartwheeling around without any care in the world!