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How To Do A Cartwheel – For gymnasts and kids

The Cartwheel is one of the most recognised gymnastics skills. Learning how to do a cartwheel is easy but mastering the skill so you can perform a cartwheel with good form takes a lot more practice. There are some drills and tips that can help you more easily master the cartwheel which we will show you later in this article. First, let’s look at some step by step instructions so you can see what a cartwheel looks like.


The information in this article is not exhaustive and We disclaim all liability for any physical harm resulting from the information on this website. Please always practice gymnastics skills safely under the supervision of a parent or trained gymnastics coach.

How to do a cartwheel for beginners Step By Step instructions.

This guide will help beginners learn to do a cartwheel, show you how to teach somebody to do a cartwheel and offer other fun tips and advice about the many cartwheel variations you can perform once your skills become more advanced. Cartwheels are exciting & difficult enough to challenge anybody, whether you are a gymnast, tumbler, cheerleader or just love to be active, you’ll soon be having a lot of fun.

If you feel you need some extra wrist support for your gymnastics practice, tiger paws can help support gymnasts wrists. Before we start we would like to thank the lovely Phoebe for helping us produce this  guide by taking the great cartwheel photos shown above. Click here to check out her wonderful Instagram.

Cartwheel Starting position (Cartwheel Lunge position )

how to do a cartwheel starting lunge position
cartwheel starting lunge position with head facing forward, strongest leg in front and arms raised up beside your ears
  • 1. If you are a beginner first you need to know which is your strongest leg. If you don’t already know then try alternating between your left and right leg and stick with whichever feels most comfortable during the cartwheel.
  • 2. As you can see above, the front leg ( your chosen strongest leg ) is bent and into a lunge position and your arms should be held up straight, beside your ears.
  • 3. Don’t start by facing the side. make sure to face forward ( in the direction you will be moving ) and maintain a lunge position.

Keep your core abdominal muscles strong and tight throughout the cartwheel. Beginners often forget to squeeze and work their core in order to hold your body in the correct position. Toes Should also be pointed throughout the cartwheel.

The Cartwheel Movement Phase 

how to do a cartwheel movement phase
  • 4 From the lunge position you can start to lower your hands towards the ground while at the same time bringing your back leg upwards ( there should be a straight line pointing along your leg through your body and directly along your arm.) until you have formed a T shape position.
  • 5. From the T shape position turn your hands so that they point sideways and look towards the ground.
  • 6. Now you can push off the front leg by straightening it to complete the cartwheel motion. During this last motion, make sure your hands stay put in the same place because it is easy for beginners to let them slide around.
how to do a cartwheel final movement phase
  • 7. At first it should feel like you are kicking your feet around the side of your body but It is useful to try and feel like you are kicking your feet over your head in order for you to position your legs in the correct vertical position. At This point you will be looking at the ground as your legs separate evenly above your body at the midway point.
  • 8. Don’t keep your hands on the ground too long – this is a common mistake. Be sure that your arms stay beside your ears and follow you up into the final vertical lunge position.

How to do a Cartwheel – Final Lunge position

how to do a cartwheel final position
Cartwheel final phase before the back returns to a vertical lunge position
  • 9. The cartwheel movement finishes in a lunge position again but this time the opposite leg ( weaker leg) is the leg that is bent and in front and you are now facing back towards where you started. Be sure to keep your arms by your ears even after you have finished the cartwheel.

Gymnastics Cartwheel Training Drills & Tips

A lot of gymnasts suggest checking that you are able to perform a handstand before attempting the cartwheel. The reason why is to check that you have the strength to hold your body weight up in the air. It is necessary to do a cartwheel during gymnastics level 1 and it is an important skills to master on the floor and beam.

Tips For Teaching Somebody How To Do A Cartwheel

The cartwheel is a basic gymnastics skill but teaching somebody how to do cartwheels requires a little bit of experience but most importantly patience and the ability to spot the common mistakes gymnasts and cheerleaders make when learning how to do cartwheels correctly.

  • Be sure your student has their arms straight to avoid the cartwheel collapsing mid way through.
  • Place two small cloths on the floor in the positions where the gymnast should place their hands during the cartwheel.
  • Draw or lay out a piece of string or ribbon on the floor and teach the gymnast to stay on the line during the whole cartwheel. This will ensure their feet are directly above their body and forces the correct position.

How to learn the cartwheel in one day

It is possible to perform a cartwheel in one day. Your cartwheel won’t have perfect form after one day but you can learn a beginner cartwheel quite easily. Practice is the key to success in gymnastics and if you put in the hours starting at gymnastics level 1 you’ll form a strong and successful habit. Here are some bullet points showing the most important tips from our article above. Keep all of these in mind and make sure to use an air mat or straight line on the floor for guidance.

  • Hold your arms beside your ears at all times
  • Toes should be pointed
  • Straight arms and legs
  • Start by facing in the direction you are heading, not sideways.
  • Legs should be above your head rather than around the side. A line on the floor will help correct this.

Final thoughts about the cartwheel

You can trust our authors gymnastics experience. Between us we must have performed more than 10,000 cartwheels so this is a gymnastics skill we are very familiar with. To be sure that we provide you with the best possible advice we have consulted gymnastics coaches, read gymnastics books and researched scholarly articles about cartwheels.

There are different approaches to performing the cartwheel so your coach might teach you some different drills or advise you to learn the handstand first. Whichever approach you take please be sure that you warm-up first. Warming up your wrists before a cartwheel will help prevent common injuries. If you are unsure whether you have the correct form or need some advice please let us know or email us some photographs and we will be happy to help. Using a gymnastics cartwheel block can also help you to more easily learn the cartwheel.


Here is a list of sources we used to write this article. Beside each we have listed some reasons briefly summarising what we learnt about cartwheels & the approach to learning gymnastics skills from that particular source.

  1. W.J. Khong, Serena & Kong, Pui. (2016). A Simple and Objective Method for Analyzing a Gymnastics Skill. Evropejskij Žurnal Fizičeskoj Kulʹtury i Sporta. 12. 10.13187/ejpe.2016.12.46. –  This research article presents an “objective method for analysing a dynamic, asymmetrical and multi-planar gymnastics skill (cartwheel)”. The research into the cartwheel found that using video technology is great for tracking a gymnasts cartwheel learning progression and provides an objective view that captures every movement.
  2. Sportsrec offer some good advice about strengthening certain muscle groups so that you have the strength in your shoulders,arms, core and legs to perform cartwheels correctly & safely.
  3. USA gym have written this interesting article with a few tips for gymnastics cartwheels. USA gym suggest using the Teeter-Totter drill to build up to learning a full cartwheel.

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