The back handspring is one of the staple moves of gymnastics. It is a great move in and of itself, but its also used as a move to set up, and gain momentum for even bigger moves.
It is also one of the tougher of the basic tumbling moves. In my opinion it is harder to do then a back tuck. While accomplishing it is not too difficult, get it to work smoothly and correctly is a bit harder.
And, as it is back tumbling, its not something most people can jump into. While many people could easily work up to a front handspring with a little practice, going backwards over your head can be much trickier, mentally.
The basics of the move is to jump up and back. You need to hit the right amount of both or else you can miss your hands entirely (jumping too high) or not give yourself enough room (jumping not high enough).
When you jump your arms are thrown overhead, preferably locked out and in line with the ears. For those less flexible the arms aren’t always kept straight or in line. While the move can be accomplished this way you won’t have as much speed and momentum useful for going into any other move.
You transition through a sort of handstand position (obviously not pausing at all) and then come to your feet, preferably in an upright position. You want to avoid being bent over or in a squat.
You’ll notice I mentioned ‘preferably’ several times. This is the difference in doing the move and doing it well. When you’re starting out its great to just get through the move, but as you progress you tighten up your form, making the move not only better but easier to do.
I’ve been doing the back handsprings for awhile. Always working on improving my form, but my primary goal has been to string these moves together. My weakness thus far has been in doing just that, going from one move to another seamlessly.
For a couple weeks I’ve been practicing doing roundoff back handsprings as well as double back handsprings all on the mats.
I’m happy to report as of last week I’ve been able to do these on the floor. You’ll notice many of the points discussed above are not shown here. 🙂 Not perfect but a big step in the right direction.
There are some who say if you can’t do something perfectly don’t do it. I say first accomplish the move. Then work on making it better. Yes, you can set in bad habits, but if you constantly work towards improvement these won’t stay a problem.
Good Luck and Good Tumbling,
P.S. For tons of tumbling fun be sure to get a copy of Tumbling Illustrated.