How to do a Cartwheel
Ok, so we all know the type—the cute little cheerleader tumbling on the beach, trying to impress the hot boy lying nonchalantly on a beach towel nearby. But I’ll tell you a secret; almost anyone can learn to do a cartwheel, and it looks pretty freakin’ cool. So if you want to give it a try, and maybe start impressing those cute boys yourself, here’s a simple way to visualize it.
Think of a cartwheel as a sandwich. It can be any kind of sandwich you want. I chose a straightforward PB & J, but when I used to teach five and six year olds the sandwich style cartwheel, they chose all kinds of creative sandwiches such as toe jam and cat food. What matters is to visualize the parts of a sandwich; the first piece of bread, the yummy filling, and the final piece of bread.
Before you begin any tumbling, do a quick warm up and stretch. Don’t forget to stretch your wrists. It’s best to practice outside on the grass or on a sandy beach (but be prepared to acquire some grass stains or a sandy bottom). You can also practice inside in a wide open room with a fold out mat.
The Bread (The Lunge)
To begin your cartwheel, you’ll have to start in the lunge. The lunge begins and ends the cartwheel, just like the bread begins and ends the sandwich. The lunge position is as follows: place the dominant leg a full step in front of the other and bend the front leg. Keep both hips facing forward and reach your hands towards the sky. Congratulations! You are now in the lunge position.
The PB & J
Now comes the tricky part; getting yourself upside down and upright again. From the lunge position, place the hand of the same side of the forward leg on the ground. Now, at this point you’ll need to visualize your whole body traveling along a straight line. Place your second hand along this line. For now, spread some chunky peanut butter on your beautiful lunge bread, and simply jump your feet to the other side of your hands, aiming for the other side of the imaginary line. The other leg should now be your forward leg. Bend the knee and lift your hands back up towards the sky. If everything has gone according to plan, you should now be back in your lunge position and facing the opposite direction.
You may find that your arms collapse before you get your feet to the other side. Create a strength in your arms that travels all the way through your shoulder blades and spread the weight of your body evenly through your palms and fingers. Most importantly, keep those elbows straight!
As you practice this movement, your cartwheel will become much smoother, and you can start adding some creamy peanut butter to your cartwheel sandwich by pushing off of the bent knee and kicking your legs up higher, above your hips. Aim on keeping your legs straight and your toes pointed. Once you get really good you can try switching to your weaker side, placing the weak leg in front of the dominant leg. Don’t forget that your hands will switch as well—the hand on the same side of the forward leg will come to the ground closest to your body.