Back Handspring, Drills

Drills Comparison: Back handspring over barrel: Snap to hollow/prone finish versus the piked dnap-down finish.

Tumbling class:

"Why do we have to go to hollow all the time?", asked Nadia.  She's been attending my tumbling class for about 4 months.  She confessed one day that she told her mom that she was going to quit my class because it was too hard, she thought, compared to her previous class with a coworker.

The drill set up is a medium sized barrell on top a large panel mat, unfolded for a flat, elevated surface. On the other side landing area is a "Tiffin" red and black, 3 inch, soft mat.  The instruction is to jump back to a back handspring position on top of the barrell, roll over to a tight arch handstand position, and snap down to a hollow prone (push up position) with shoulders to ears, head in.  

"Because that's the position you need to snap into when you block through your shoulders," I responded. "See, if you just keep doing back handsprings over the barrel and pike down, it doesn't go anywhere (her skill development)  It has no future.  You'll just flop down (when you eventually do the back handspring on floor) and you won't be able to connect other skills like back handspring to a back handspring... or to a back handspring tuck, or (you won't be able to connect) Round off back handspring tuck, RO BH layout, RO BH full."

"Oh, I see," she smiled.

"Why?  Why did you ask? (You were) Just curious?, I asked.

"Yeah. I didn't know," she replied.

"Man. I really have to connect the dots for everyone, ha?", I followed.  (I'm thinking in my head that I assume too much...that I take for granted for a lot of the things that I teach that are so obvious to me.  Big lesson.  I really have to take the time to explain more....and then explain, again....and again....and again.)

The following video is an oversimplified version of how to train a back handspring; It really doesn't work this easily in real life.  Yes, people do the drills he demonstrated and I don't disagree with them completely... these are universal drills practiced around the world.  But, you want the best, most productive, most effective, drills, don't you?  I would follow the first drills by JAO videos that I posted titled, "Back Handspring Positions."  I practice many of those drills, plus more.  Lots of positional, stationary, static, non-moving, exercises to build strength and coordination before any dynamic, movement combinations.


Here's a video loop of the above video that shows the pike down drill that I don't really like, as from experience, it doesn't really develop any blocking skills through the shoulders, arms, and hands, before snapping down  to the floor:   I really think this "snap down" your feet after jumping over the barrel is counter productive-- maybe the first few turns you can do this just to get used to going over the barrel and getting over the fears, but after five turns, you really have to take it to handstand position-- The snap down is not as important as the tight arch shoulder block before the snap down.  

Sequence. Priority.

Click on the image below for a shorter, 2 second looping video and see if there are any habits forming for the shoulder block.  The link will open to another tab on your browser.

In the next video below, the guy's got the right idea:  taking it to handstand, grabbing the hips and guiding them to that vertical handstand position.  

I disagree with the step-out on this drill. 

Personally, I would still guide the student to the handstand position and either have them: 

A. Snap down to hollow prone/push up position, head in.


B. Fall to soft mat, straight body/hollow chest/block through shoulders and fall to belly.

There are other important things to look for like the open shoulder angle, open hips position upon hand contact on the floor, and how to spot this over with the least strength and effort used.  

Sign up for our upcoming Cheer Tumbling coaching course here>>>>