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Steps to a Good Cartwheel
Learning to do a cartwheel is one of the first challenges a young gymnast faces during her formative training years. Breaking down the cartwheel into achievable parts can make it much more understandable, and make it easier for a gymnast to learn a correct and strong cartwheel.
The first and foremost steps to creating a good cartwheel is weight support. A gymnast must be comfortable holding their own body weight. This means that they must learn the pushing movement against the floor in an inverted position. This is done by teaching them good handstands and good kicks around and over objects such as blocks, hoops, polly spots and floor bars. Having good weight support skills are imperative to mastering the cartwheel.
Another component of the cartwheel is to ability to understand lateral movement. Teaching the brain to comprehend movement from side to side helps the body to respond physically for a lateral moving skill. This is done by using movements such as side to side walks, side kicking, rocking side to side transferring weight from one foot to another. As the brain begins to learn to work sideways, then the body follows. An additional note on laterality is that it will also help with reading when children begin school because their brain will be familiar with the process of working from side to side just as we do in reading from left to right.
The movement of a cartwheel requires exceptional kicking skills in order to initiate the momentum required for the hand, hand, foot, foot movement. We train this by using kicks on panel mats, bars and beam, along with training lots of handstands. It is important to learn to kick using the hip flexors rather than kicking from the heels or knees which develops bent legs during the skill.
Putting it all together
Once a gymnast has learned all of the necessary components of the cartwheel, then putting it together to create the skills is much easier. Always remember when performing a new skill that it should be done with a trained spotter and coach. Never attempt a skill for the first time without doing the proper lead up drills and then always use the assistance from a coach until you are comfortable with the movement. Injuries can occur even on the most basic skills, so think safety first at all times.