Back Handspring Question

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Apr 3, 2008
When my daughter does her back handspring, it looks like her head is going to touch the ground. Should she keep her arms closer to her head?? Any help is appreciated.
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Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Feb 26, 2007
What does her coach say to her?

I like to see their arms by their ears all through the skill. Almost landing on their heads is a phase most gymmies go through, it will improve with practice. Though if she is landing on her head she needs to be stopped and spotted through the skill. If even with spottingit is the case, she may not be strong enough yet.
Apr 3, 2008
I really think she's bending her arms too much and her arms aren't close enough to her ears/head.

She does her handspring w/o her head actually hitting, but it's so close at times, I'm afraid she's going to hit it. For instance, today her head was very close and nothing was said. I'm sorta confused with this.

I appreciate your replies.

Jean :)


Sep 21, 2008
It all depends on where she is doing it...

Is this over the floor? Into a pit with a wedge mat?

Some coaches sorta weed out gymnasts if there are a lot of them.. it's sad, but true.. this may be one method this coach uses. However, without seeing it, I cannot say for certain. Do any other gymnasts have this problem?

Have you talked to the coach about it? Expressed your concerns? If you have, what was your response?

If youre asking about "why" it's happening, it's one of a few things - one, could be arm strength. Again, it could be her jump angle - too low, and she will have to bend to get through. Last, she could be wipping her hips to make the flip-flop (back handspring). It's hard to tell without seeing it...

What can you do to help? How are her back walk overs? Does she play with them at home? That can help with the arm strength.

If it's not the arms, help her feel what it's like to push the floor at 45*. Basically, jump back and away from the floor like fred flintstone stopping his car.

Wippy hips... well.. that takes some more effort, and some coaching. Could be positioning, or a mixture of problems, like arm swing, throwing her head too early... again.. it's hard to say without seeing..

Im sorry I cant give you much more help... if you can post a video we might be able to help more.. though I really really encourage you to talk to her coach. Sometimes, if you appraoch a coach with a genuine concern, away from the gymnasts (and your daughter... and preferrably with another coach in ear shot), asking nicely will get you a good result.

Let us know how it goes.



Jul 29, 2007
My dd went thru the same thing about 2 months ago. I was told that it just takes, that's what we did. One weekend, we did about 50 of them and she just got it. She still bends her arms slightly on her standing BHS, but they are perfectly straight on her ROBHS. So my advice would be to practice, practice, practice.

Also, my dd said she thought if she kept her arms straight, that she would break them. That's why I wanted to do so many in one weekend. I wanted her to see that she had done 50 or so and no broke arms. She finally realized it. You may want to see if there if there is something mental going on....not necessarily always physical.


Feb 3, 2009
Arms collapsing on a back handspring is frustrating. If the basic technique is being done right, sit back, like in a chair with knees above the ankles,(NOT in front) and swinging the arms fast (keeping them by the ears once up) while jumping backwards and upwards, (NOT just upwards) at the same time, then collapsing is most likely a shoulder and arm strength issue. Keeping arms straight in a RO back handspring is easier because of the momentum. My coach had me do an exercise to strengthen my shoulders and arms for standing back handsprings because I had trouble learning them on balance beam. Handstand push ups, either with a spotter or against a wall by yourself develops this strength. Do as many until the point of failure, without arching the back! Push ups with correct body position also. I also used to do a back bend, stay there and do push ups in that position. They are much harder than regular push ups, but you find yourself using a lot of muscles you never think about much.


Well-Known Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
They almost always collapse when they pick up a shoulder or hip angle (these two usually go together). If they aren't recruiting all the muscles around the neck/shoulders in line with the hips, there's no way their elbows are going to make it happen (and shoulder angle brings the head closer to the floor in the first place obviously). I spot BHS stopping in the HS (pushing forward open shoulder angle) for some time.

She could just not be strong enough but a lot of times when you're at the point of working BHS, it's more a technique/muscle recruitment issue, at least for me. BHS doesn't take massive strength, and the way we progress in gymnastics with little kids by that time they should already do pull up, pullovers, back walkovers, all which are developing pretty reasonable upper body and core strength. You really just need to be able to block your weight through your shoulders for a second. There's more force generated than with HS obviously but if they can hold a HS awhile and resist downward pressure, then they're usually capable of the BHS strengthwise in my experience. I've seen a bunch of girls that really don't have great upper body strength but stay tight and work the jump and technique well.
Apr 3, 2008
We will be working on the suggestions given. My daughter is very strong, but I know they have told me she doesn't have good shoulder flexibility (I'm not sure how you can tell) She says they've been doing a lot of work on that. From what I've read on the replies, I'm guessing it has to do with her shoulder flexibility.

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