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

round off

A round off is more or less a prerequisite for countless other gymnastic skills. I find that to be one of the most exciting things about the sport; you don’t have to begin from step number one each time you move to a new level.

As a gymnast, you get to feel like a proud mama about yourself every once in a while when you exhibit a skill you learned previously. What more could you ask for? Similarly, once having learned how to do a decent round-off, you can use its fundamentals in other skill sets such as back handsprings, double backs, and skills conventionally performed on the vault. 

Having discussed the significance of a round-off, I’m going to help you perform one as best as I can. I have utter confidence that you’re going to learn it in no time with the sort of determination and urge to learn that runs deep inside you.

Similar to how a round off will prove to be a basis of several skills, a good number of your already learned skills will also be brought to use in this. To perform a round-off, I’m going to need you to imagine that you are doing a leg hurdle and assume that body posture exactly.

Simultaneously raise your hands in midair as well. Once you have completed a hurdle smoothly, move onto the next step that is to bend your dominant (depends on the side you want to move towards) leg and allow your other leg to move upwards. You are required to launch a kick with your back leg to avoid falling over.

Doing a round off will further be made possible by putting both your hands on the ground to maintain balance (it may look something like a cartwheel or an Ariel). You might be thinking, that’s just a cartwheel, that’s exactly what I thought up till this point too (high-five!). 

However, the entirety of the difference between a cartwheel and a round off lies solely in the sideways turn you are going to make with your backhand. The second hand that you put on the ground should be positioned in a way that it is facing inwards.

Avoid forcing a turn or after a few practices you may end up with a hand sprain or an ache in your elbow. This inwards position will help your body automatically turn and land perfectly. 

Additionally, as you practice this particular part, eventually try giving your body a slight angle too. If you’ve gotten across to doing a round off up till this point, congratulations!

You’re already through the tough part. All you need to do now is bring your round off to an overall grand finale. 

There are two factors while performing a round off that you need to be crystal clear about, they are the ones that are specifically going to help you do a better job. This is the part most gymnasts have trouble keeping up with. 

One of these elements is making sure to land with both your legs at the same time (unlike a cartwheel). There is no secret way to perfect this, other than to practice till you have gained perfection.

Secondly, you owe it to an exemplary round off to be confident with your hurdle and make it seem as if it comes with a voluntary muscle movement. This too will only be made possible through repetitive practice of performing hurdles till it is the first thing that comes to your mind when you perform a round-off. 

Primary muscles/body parts in performing a round-off

As a gymnast, your body is always at work. Once you enter a gymnasium, your body enters its action mode and only switches to rest mode once you step out.

However, certain body parts are used more in comparison to others while performing specific skill sets.

Not too different in the case of a round-off. The muscles that are vital to a round off are upper limbs, legs, and stomach muscles. The role of a gymnast’s arms and legs in the performance of this skillset is self-explanatory. They help in what can be known as the beginning point of a round off; a hurdle.

Additionally, the credit to performing a powerful cartwheel goes largely to one's arms too.

Lastly, had it not been for your core/stomach muscles, it would’ve been a task to maintain your posture during a complete round-off. 

Exercises to strengthen body muscles required for a round-off

I learned it the hard way, but trust me when I say, the second most noteworthy factor in a gymnast’s life after practice is making sure the required muscles for performance are strong enough.

I believe the priority of a gymnast is to take good care of their body. Unfortunately, some of us lose ourselves to our undying passion and love for the sport and excelling that we tend to overexert ourselves.

I speak from experience when I say, that is the worst approach you can have as a gymnast without even realizing the harm before it’s too late. One of the few solutions that experts have come up with to make sure your body is fit and ready to perform a skillset is to exercise.

As a sportswoman, you would be all too familiar with Lunges. They’re all too often mentioned when it is your leg that is the most under pressure and honestly, they deserve it. They are by far the most remarkable warm exercise there can be in gymnastics (in my personal opinion).

While performing a lunge, make sure that your back posture is correct and upright. If you’re looking to add in resistance for practice, grab some light weights. 

Secondly, planks are also used for a tremendous number of skills, including round offs.

They give strength to your upper arms, lower arms, and as well as your core muscles. If you’re new at gymnastics (or at planks), they aren’t exactly going to be a piece of cake for you…or even close.

But let me tell you, all of the efforts that you put in, along with your blood sweat, and tears (literally, perhaps although I wish not) are going to pay off!

Furthermore, from the broad spectrum of exercises, you may choose any that you find suitable or are suggested by your coach. Some suggestions from my end to better your round off are mentioned as follows; 

  • Cartwheels (of all sorts)
  • Practice handstand
  • Goblet squat
  •  V ups

Drills to do before performing a round-off

You don't need to practice the drills that are stated under this heading. The majority of gymnasts (including myself) tend to enjoy and perform better with the drills they come up with for themselves.

I would advise you to follow one or the other routine of drills, especially as a beginner instead of simply going ahead with the actual skillset. Some renowned and appreciated drills for round offs are; 

  • Need kick
  • Mountain climb needle kick
  • Handstand snap down
  • Power hurdle lunge
  • Hurdle arm swings with weights

Equipment required to perform a round-off

For a gymnast who loves performing what she does, any place can be the gymnasium. However, if you are planning to make a start with gymnastics at home, you will need the following tools;

Most of this equipment is necessary for the drills you need to perform and not the actual skill.