How to Practice Backbends for Gymnastics

How to Practice Backbends for Gymnastics

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Flexibility in the shoulders is necessary to do a backbend.

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Gymnastics is a sport that requires strength, determination and flexibility. One of the first skills a gymnast will learn is a backbend. As in all gymnastics skills, you need to master progressions before you can perform a backbend correctly and safely. Begin by developing the flexibility and strength you need.



To stretch your shoulders, keep your right arm straight, reach across you body and pull back at the right elbow. Repeat the stretch on the left side. Take a minimum of five minutes to properly stretch your shoulders.


To stretch your wrists, make some simple wrist circles clockwise and counterclockwise. Then with a straight arm in front, pull back on your fingers with the opposite hand to stretch each wrist. Stretch each wrist for two minutes.


For your ankles, with your legs pointed out straight, flex and make circles using alternating directions with your feet. Repeat this stretch 10 times.


To stretch your back, lie on your stomach with your hands pressed to the floor. Straighten your arms and lift your shoulders as far back toward your feet as you can. Keep your head in a neutral position.



Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent. Your feet must be shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor.


Place your hands on the floor next to your ears with your fingers pointing toward your feet. Keep your elbows in close to your ears.


Push up with your arms and legs lifting your back off the floor. Keep your arms straight and try to keep your legs together and straight.

Wall Walks


Stand with your back about 2 feet from a padded wall. Widen your stance to a little more than shoulder width.


With your arms reaching upward, carefully arch your back and reach backward until your hands make contact with the wall.


Slowly walk your hands down the wall until you reach the floor and then lower your body to the floor.

Half Backbend


Stack a couple of crash mats on top of each other with the short ends against a wall to keep the mats from slipping.


Stand at the opposite short side with your back to the mats. Your feet should be more than shoulder-width apart.


Keeping your eyes on your hands, arch back until you are in a bridge position with your hands on the crash mats and your feet on the floor.


Slowly remove one crash mat at a time as you improve until you are ready to perform backbends on the gymnastics floor.



Remove all crash mats. Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart.


Keeping your eyes on your hands, arch back until your hands are touching the floor.


Always have a spotter when first attempting a full backbend. Once you master the skill, perform the backbend without a spotter but always with supervision.

Things Needed

  • Panel mat
  • Gymnastics floor
  • Padded wall
  • 12-inch to 24-inch gymnastics crash mat


  • Protect your head by not allowing your arms to bend. To strengthen your arms and shoulders, do some light weightlifting or handstands against a padded wall.
  • Bridging up with your head near a wall and then pushing your chest toward the wall will increase your flexibility. Try doing this a few times per day. Always try to keep your legs together and straight.
  • Flexibility does not come easily for some people. Stretch often to improve all of your gymnastics skills.


  • Always perform these skills with a padded surface underneath you.
  • Do not perform these skills without supervision and/or a spotter.
  • Ensure that you have the strength to hold your bridge for at least a minute before attempting a backbend.


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