5 Ways Gymnasts Can Overcome Fear of The Back Handspring

Back Handspring Mid Air

As a beginner gymnast you might hit road blocks from time to time as you attempt more advanced skills. The back handspring is one of those road blocks. In this post I’ll show you 5 steps you can follow to overcome your fear of doing a back handspring.

Here are 5 ways any gymnast can overcome their fear of executing the back handspring:

  • #1 – Do Confidence Building Exercises
  • #2 – Use A Spotter
  • #3 – Master Your Mind
  • #4 – Work Into The Move With A Roundoff Back Handspring
  • #5 – Keep Your Upper Body Together

#1 – Do Confidence Building Exercises

Many times the fear of doing something stems from not having enough experience or prerequisites to execute the move properly. If you are rushing through gymnastics skills to reach the next one you can start to get frustrated or even worse frozen in fear. You could also get injured if you haven’t built up enough base strength or base skills for the next move.

The back handspring definitely has some prerequisites. If you can master the 4 movements below you’ll better prepare yourself for completing a back handspring and eliminate your fears.

Master Your Handstand

Be sure you can hold a handstand for at least 10 seconds. This will give you confidence in having your full body weight on your hands.

Practice Jumping To Your Hands

Practice standing up and then doing small jumps on to your hands. Eventually get to the point where you can jump to your hands and hold a handstand. This will help boost your confidence of being completely off the ground and landing on your hands.

Practice Your Backwards Roll To Hand Stand

Roll on your back and then pop up off your hands into a handstand. This will get your body comfortable with moving backward and then pushing into a handstand position which is similar to the rotation in a back handspring.

Master The Back Walk Over

Once you’ve got the first 3 movements down it’s time to master the back walkover. You can use a wall if you are just starting out and spread your hands wider if you need to make it easier. Over time you can bring your hands closer together.

#2 – Use A Spotter

Using a spotter for any advanced movement is the safest way to practice gymnastics. You should always use a spotter when you can and never do movements outside your comfort zone without a spotter.

The simple fact of using a spotter will allow you to release your fears because you know that if you mess up your spotter will be there to catch you when you fall. If you have certainty that you won’t get hurt you can be brave and execute the movement with confidence.

Choosing A Good Spotter

Be sure to make sure you have a qualified spotter. A good example of a good spotter would be your gymnastics coach. They normally have years of experience and know exactly how to spot each movement including the back hand spring.

An example of a poor spotter would be a friend or parent with no experience. Asking someone to spot you that has no experience in the sport of gymnastics is not a good idea.

Not only can you get injured by the spotter incorrectly helping you through the movement but the spotter is also in danger hurting themselves if they don’t use good technique.

Always pick your spotter wisely and insure that they have adequate experience spotting each particular move you are working on.

#3 – Master Your Mind

Many books have been written about mastering your mind in sports and overcoming obstacles to win the game or competition. You can take many approaches to this and reach your desired outcome from different angles. I will offer you 5 tips that have helped me in my life overcome a fear or obstacle.

  1. Be Positive With Yourself – How you subconsciously speak to yourself will inevitably impact how you perform in your sport. As an example if you constantly say “I can’t make this movement” your body will start to believe you. Reinforce in your mind that you can complete a back handspring. When you speak about it say I’m going to complete it and will do whatever it takes to get there.
  2. Choose Your Inner Circle Wisely – On every gymnastics team there are girls that just charge through each new skill with no fear. There are also girls that seem to be afraid of each new challenge that comes there way. They take weeks to master something that other girls figure out in days. Surround yourself with the other gymnasts that are advancing quickly. Their mentality will rub off on you and you will master the skills at a faster pace.
  3. Visualize Yourself Completing A Back Handspring – If you can’t actually see yourself completing a back handspring it will be very difficult to actually do one in real life. Take time each day to close your eyes and empty your mind of everything that’s going on in your life. Singularly focus on the back handspring. Visualize yourself performing it perfectly. Get it down to the nitty gritty details, even what outfit you’re wearing, what the weather was like and where it takes place. This visualization will start to actualize and you will be able to complete the skill.
  4. Be Thankful For The Opportunity – Gratitude can play a big roll in achieving your goals. Being thankful for your health and opportunity to participate in sports sets your mind in a good place. It’s kind of like karma…what you put out in the world you end up getting back. If you are putting out positive vibes with a heart and mind full of thankfulness good things will circle back. This might seem a little mystical but it really does work.
  5. Be Intentional With Your Goal – Slightly different than visualization being intentional is a matter of fact attitude around your goal of doing a back hand spring. Put a sticky not on your mirror that reads “I’m awesome at back hand springs!” If you read that everyday you are training your subconscious mind to work on this skill even when your not practicing gymnastics. Fear is all in the mind and once you can overcome your fear everything will start opening up to you.

#4 – Work Into The Move With A Roundoff Back Handspring

This is pretty easy method of overcoming your fear that I heard from a gymnast awhile back. She was struggling to get her back handspring from a standing position.

That’s a huge problem because you’ll need it to advance in gymnastics. What she found was that her fear subsided as she would perform a back handspring after she completed a roundoff.

Simply combining the moves made all the difference!

“To not be scared of a back handspring took a lot of thinking about not thinking about it; it can be scary. For me, in order to get my back handspring it was easier to do a round off back handspring first, so I wouldn’t have to think about it and have no choice to back down. Eventually, from there I learned that it wasn’t so scary after all and worked on standing ones by myself.”

Megan Hageman

#5 – Keep Your Upper Body Together

The biggest fear of jumping backwards into a back handspring is that you could land on your head. But what if no matter what you knew that your hands were going to lead the way.

But how can you be sure your hands will lead the way?

The secret to this method is to make sure that you upper torso moves in complete unison. In other words your hands don’t jerk backwards without your head neck and chest moving simultaneously.

If you think of your extended arms, head, neck and upper body all moving as one cohesive unit your hands will be the first thing to hit the ground. You can practice this in a mirror so you can build confidence that your moving all body parts in unison.

This seems like a simple tip but it really does work and help you overcome that fear of landing on your head.


I hope you found some value from this post. Fear in gymnastics can be real and unfortunately will push some people out of the sports. My goal with this article was to give you some insight and tools that will help you overcome those fears. If you can beat your fears you can continue to excel and reach the next milestone in your gymnastics career.

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