How to Back Handspring Properly (i.e. without injuring yourself)

So you want to be a ninja? Alrighty then, go get your black pajamas and let’s get started. Actually, I suspect you’ll be wearing either a leotard or a cheerleading uniform while doing this (that’s not to say that ninjas aren’t welcome or something, just…unlikely). The back handspring is a very basic technique that’s used primarily in gymnastics and cheerleading and can be learned with a

minimum of time. It’s recommended that you have someone else who knows more about this than you do (e.g. a coach) to help you out, but if you’re relatively flexible and especially if you’ve got a bit of experience then you can probably sort this out at home in your

living room, no trouble. First a few tips and then a short (but excellent) video demoing exactly what to do step-by-step by a professional gymnastics coach. Let’s go:

  • If you’ve got something you can use as padding, use it. A proper gym and a cheese (incline mat) would be best, but your bedroom floor and some pillows and blankets could work in a pinch.
  • As you’re bending backwards (you’ll see the proper form in the video below), the way you know when to jump is that it’s the very instant before you’re about to lose your balance and fall on your butt.
  • The best way I’ve ever heard a back handspring described is as “jumping backward into a handstand” (and then, of course, coming out of the handstand onto your feet).
  • If you’re having trouble getting to your hands, that means you’re not generating enough momentum and you need to swing harder with your arms.
  • Having a spotter (a friend, preferably one who’s better at this stuff than you) is way better than not having one.

Alright, pay attention and watch this a couple times, go try it yourself, come back and watch again, go back and try again, etc., etc., until you can do it; very simple:

Additional Resources and Further Reading

For additional instruction and help, there are piles of DVDs and books out there, the best, in my opinion, are Beginning Gymnastics for Girls: Skills and Progressions by Steve Nunno, who is a two-time USA Olympic coach whos gymnasts have won more national and international medals than any other coach in the country, and the book Letters to a Young Gymnast by Nadia Comaneci, the first person ever to receive a perfect score in Gymnastics at the Olympics.

The best resource for learning anything is always other people, the top online forums/communities for gymnastics and cheerleading are:
The Chalk Bucket (gymnastics, obviously)
American Cheerleader

If you’re looking for lots more articles and videos online and you’re a gymnast I’d recommend you check out’s section on gymnastics, and if you’re a cheerleader I’d recommend you check out their section on gymnastics specifically for cheerleading.