Acro skills are essentially gymnastics moves that involve controlled movement. While many of these can be done quickly, and even need to be done quickly in the case of the handsprings, they should still be precise. Knowing what the acro skills are can help you know what your options are when it comes time for you to start working on making your routine.
Though the acro skills do often involve being in the air, they are different from jumps and leaps mainly because of the fact that those do not feature any rotational movements or flips like acro movements do. And acro skills are even further apart to posses for which you are required to hold a certain position, since these skills are all about movement.
This is most likely the easiest gymnastics move that there is and it is without a doubt one of the very first ones that you will learn how to do in the first level of gymnastics. Sometimes this is referred to as a roly-poly and it is something that you are taught to do both starting and ending in a standing position.
The proper way to do a forward roll is to start from a standing position, crouch down as you lean forward with your hands facing forward and shoulder width apart, and then as your hands make contact with the ground to tuck your head down in between them. Push off with your legs in order to get rolling onto your back and keep your momentum going, swinging your arms through the air in order help you to your feet.
Forward Straddle Roll
This is a variation of the forward roll where you keep your legs apart as though you are straddling something during the whole roll as you both start and end with a straddling position.
Handstand Forward Roll
In order to do this skill you first start in a handstand position, up against the wall if your handstands are not quite stable yet, and then while keeping your torso as hollow as you can you should bend your feet down to touch the ground in front of you. You do not really put much weight on your feet, instead going into a complete roll which will end with you being on your feet and facing the opposite direction that you were when you where in the handstand position that you started in.
A backward roll is only a little harder to do than a forward roll, the hardest part is often getting used to the backward motion. Like with the other roll, you start this one from a standing position and squat down some as you roll backwards.
However, there are a couple of variations to the backward roll, just as there is to the forward roll as well. Some of these variations depend of what position you are starting or ending with such as pike, layout, or as mentioned the straddle position is another one that works for these.
Backward Roll To Handstand
This can be a very easy skill to learn and simply put is nothing more than rolling backwards to the point where your hands are on the ground and going from there straight into a handstand which is often used as a pose position.
While this is not as common in artistic gymnastics as it is in rhythmic gymnastics, a shoulder roll is faster than a full front roll. This is because instead of going all the way around over your head, you are simply going diagonally over one shoulder. This also can make it easier to do on the balance beam which is where it is seen more.
A sideways roll has a number of other possible names that it can be called by, some of which include log roll, pencil roll, or the barrel roll, though there is a difference between a couple of those sideways rolls. In order to do this skill you have to get down and be laying flat on the floor.
This can be either on your stomach or on your back, and you roll to the side until you are back where you started with your body as perfectly parallel to it was when you started as possible. For a log roll your arms are at your sides, while for a pencil roll they are forming a point like a pencil above your head.
Tucked Sideways Roll
The position that you start in for this skill is identical to the child pose in yoga which is where you are sitting on your legs with your chest bent down to them so that your head is touching your knees and your hands are stretched back behind you where your feet are. Once you are in this position, simply hold yourself in this position while you roll to the side until you are back on top of your legs again.
Tin Soldier Roll
Also called the teddy bear roll, for this one you should be in a sitting position on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you with a 90 degree angle in between them. Take your hands and firmly grasp your legs with them as far out as you can do so while still keeping your torso pointing straight up.
This is the position that you will stay in for the whole maneuver. Once you are in position, push your shoulder back and to the side so that you fall over with one of your legs along the ground and the other pointing straight up in the air. Then roll yourself over so that the opposite leg is in the air and follow that through so that you are back into a sitting position.
If you did it right then you should be facing in the exact opposite direction than you were when you started. To finish this skill you have to repeat the exact same process so that you literally end up in the exact some place that you started from after making a complete “circle” on the floor.
Like you might guess from the name, this skill essentially requires you to literally dive into a roll. In order to start you first jump up a little into the air to get some height and then dive forward bent only at the hips just a little as you hit the ground with your hands and go straight into a roll.
The dive roll can also be called a hecht roll since to execute it properly you should throw your hands back and arch your body backwards before you put your hands forward and down to start your roll.
A cartwheel is also something that is easy and that even some non-gymnasts know how to do. In order to do a cartwheel you start by standing sideways and then tip yourself over, placing one hand on the ground as you lift your opposite foot into the air. Then you tip over even further to where you are doing a handstand, going over to the other side in the same way to a standing position. Two of the key parts to this are momentum and keeping your legs and arms rigidly in their splayed-out position.
A round-off is a very common gymnastics move that is often put into combinations. It can be best described by saying that the first half of it starts off almost exactly like a regular cartwheel, with one foot leaving the ground as the first hand touches the floor, only it goes into a handstand position that is straight and not sideways, with your hands in a T-position. From there you do a flip forward and onto your feet again so that you actually end up facing the opposite direction that you were when you started.
While this skill looks to be difficult, it is not as hard as you might think, though it still takes time to learn. You start by going forward into a handstand position with your legs split wide apart, as close to the splits as you can get them. Then your leading leg bends over and to the ground behind you with your other leg following and landing right beside it as the top part of your body goes up, putting you back in a standing position and facing the same direction that you were before.
A back walkover is not at all more difficult and is in many ways just like doing the front one backwards. Starting again in a standing position you reach back as though you are going to do a backbend, only in this case one of your legs is going high into the air as you do so. That leg keeps going as you go into a handstand with the splits and is the first leg to touch the ground in front of you with your other leg landing beside it as you pull up and into a standing position again.
A front handspring is not too difficult to do if you know how to easily get into a handstand position, the most difficult part usually being the end. You should start in a standing position, quickly move into a handstand to gain a little momentum, and then let your feet continue to move forward and fall towards the ground while flipping the top part of your body into the air so that you end in a standing position again.
A back handspring may involve some of the some basic principles, but it often does not feel nearly the same as a front handspring. This is because you have to throw yourself backwards into a handstand position and from there flip yourself back up into a standing position again.
This is just as often simply referred to as an aerial and has much of the same movements as a cartwheel, except for an aerial cartwheel you are not touching the floor with your hands. In order to do this skill you first have to know how to do a regular cartwheel and then you usually learn an aerial by practice this while simply applying less and less pressure to your hands until you do not need to use your hands at all. At that point you can simply keep your hands closer down towards your sides.
Similar to the differences between the cartwheel and the aerial cartwheel, the aerial walkover is simply a walkover without using your hands. One of the main differences between this and the other is that with the aerial cartwheel you are trying to keep your legs in the usual cartwheel position whereas with this one you are splitting your legs like you would for the regular walkover.
This is in a few ways very similar to the aerial cartwheel, however there are a few minor differences that make this skill its very own. While you are flipping forward into the air and landing on your feet at the end without touching the ground at all, you are going in a strictly forward motion and you are pulling your knees in while you flip in the air, extending them only when you need to in order to land on them.
One very important thing to remember is that in the sport of gymnastics that somersaults, whether forward or backward, are more often shortened and called saltos instead of somersaults. This can be a bit confusing at times if you are not aware of this fact. A regular forward somersault like I have just described tends to more often be referred to as a forward tucked salto or it can even be shortened and simply referred to as a front tuck.
Forward Piked Salto
This is for the most part the same as the forward tucked salto above, however the one difference between these two is that in this version the legs of the gymnast remain straight and pressed together except for at the hips instead of bending at the knees in order to be “tucked” into the chest.
Tucked Side Salto
This is the same as the tucked salto, only it involves doing it to the side so that you will end up landing facing the exact same direction that you were when you started.
Piked Side Salto
While this is somewhat like the forward piked salto and the other side salto, for this one your legs do not have to be pressed together, though they do have to be straight, making this look very similar to an aerial cartwheel.
This is something that can be extremely difficult to do, since you have to literally throw yourself backwards, which is a sensation that it can take a long time for a gymnast to get used to. As you throw yourself backwards, you should pull your legs in up to your chest and then extend them again in order to land and all without even stretching your hands towards the ground, much less touching it for support. As with the other, this skill’s more technical name is a backward tucked salto or simply a back tuck.
Backward Piked Salto
For this backward salto you try to keep your legs straight and pressed together firmly from the hips down. This is different from a backward straight salto for which your whole body should form as straight of a line as possible the whole time you are flipping in the air.
A whip has a couple of other names that it is less commonly called, including the whipback and the backward straight salto. Like the forward version of this, it is very important that you keep your whole body as straight as you can with only a little bit of an arch to help you with your momentum.
While there are more gymnastics skills that are still being added to the books practically every year, these are the most common of the acro gymnastics skills. Of course, there are still many more variations of these that I have not mentioned. Almost all of the above salto moves can be done with an added 1/2 twist, a full twist, or a double twist, sometimes even with a triple twist. Then again turns can also be added with 1/2 turn, a full turn, a double turn, or a triple turn.
For extra difficulty, the saltos can have both twist and turns to them, which is referred to as a combination salto. These are even more difficult and can come with one full twist and two full turns or any other combination. While possible, the combination of a triple turn and a triple twist in a salto is something that very few people have even attempted because it is virtually impossible to do correctly, especially when it comes to landing at the end.