Gymnastics Turns – A Complete List

While there are not a whole lot of turns, these can be hard to get at first since you cannot wobble at all to either side and you often have to hold your legs and your arms in a certain position while you are doing them. This takes more than a little confidence when doing the movements because it is important that you try to stay relaxed in order to avoid stiffening up like you have the natural tendency to want to do.

As a general rule most turns are done on one foot, the leg of which is kept perfectly straight. Where the other foot goes and what your hands are doing depends entirely on the kind of turn you are doing. However, both feet should remain pointed as much as possible no matter where they are positioned at.

While you might be wondering what the difference is between turns instead of leaps or jumps, especially since some of them seem to have the exact same positions, turns are different in that you are staying on the ground for these without going into the air at all and pretty much the sole motion is you spinning in a circle.

Different Rotations

There are two separate factors that come into play when it comes to the gymnastics turns. One of these factors is the position of the various parts of your body such as your legs, feet, arms, and torso. The other factor is how many or how much of a rotation goes into your turn.

These two factors put together is what determines the name of the turn, and if only one thing is changed it changes the name of the turn. While you likely already know that each of the positions have their own names, the number of rotations also have different names all on their own. These two names are what come together to make the name of the turn.

Half Turn

A half turn is more commonly written out as a 1/2 turn. When you do a turn that involves this you end up facing the opposite direction than you were before you started. This is not one that is often done all by itself as a simple turn, but instead it is more often added to acro moves and the leaps and jumps as you first start out learning how to control your turns.

Full Turn

A full turn involves making one complete rotation so that you end facing the same exact spot that you were when you started and is more commonly written out as a 1/1 turn. This can often be one of the first turns that you learn, and the most important part is that you try to stop rotating when you are facing exactly the spot that you where when you started.

One thing that you should keep in mind with this turn and the other turns following it in particular is that fact that your head can be facing a different direction that your torso is. Therefore, when it is said that you should stop facing the same direction you were before you rotated, what is meant is that your torso should be facing that direction.

Double Turn

A double turn is most often referred to as simply a double and is less often written out as a 2/1 turn. It is harder to do than a full turn for obvious reasons, but can still be easier to do than some of the other types of turns.

Triple Turn

Triple turns tend to be the maximum amount of turns that one person can do, if not simply for the sake of balance, but also because of the momentum required and the fact that it is harder to come back to the exact same spot at the end.

However, a few of the high grade turns that have simple positions can have more than three turns to them. Sometimes this is only three and a half, or it can even involving turning four times all the way around.

Other Turns

Other than those turns, there are a few other ones that are less common. Some of these include the 1 ½ turn, the 1 ¾ turn, and the 2 ½ turn just to name a few. Anything involving a 1/2 turn to it will always end with you facing the opposite direction, therefore these are most often used when that is exactly what the gymnast is trying to do in order to transition to be facing the direction she wants to travel in for the next skill.

The turns that involve the 3/4 turn in particular can be quite a bit challenging since it is harder to find your stopping spot where you should be facing as you end the turn. This is because it is only natural to try to “finish” the turn.

Different Positions

Each of the following turn positions that I have listed below can be done with virtually any amount of rotation to them. However, some of these are particularly hard to do the higher number of rotations with do to various reasons.

There are two main things that affect how many rotations you can easily get in a certain position. The first of these is how aerodynamic you are, which is why positions that have your arms and legs closer into the rest of your body make it easier to get more rotations in compared to the other positions which hold your legs and arms further out.

The other thing that affects this is how you start your momentum for rotating. Sometimes something like throwing a leg up into the air can be used to help you momentum, whereas less movement often means that you have to gain momentum in some other way.

Gymnasts add as many rotations as they can because more rotations score higher and are therefore more beneficial to do, not to mention they do have somewhat of a wow factor. However, when doing more rotations you should not “travel” on the foot you are balanced on.

With Leg Below Horizontal

If you try to picture this one solely by the name you might get it partially right. With the leg that you are turning on being perfectly straight, your other leg should bend at the knee so that the foot is touching the side of the knee of your straight leg. This is position is held for however many rotations that you are doing and you do not have to either start or end with your feet together.

With Leg At Horizontal

While this is easy to understand, the execution of this one can be a bit more difficult. One of the reasons for this is the fact that your arms are supposed to stay down near your sides, though they are not required to touch your sides.

For this turn you start with one leg a handful of inches behind the other then you raise your back leg so that it is pointing horizontally in front of you as you turn, keeping the leg you are on perfectly straight. At the end of the turn it goes back to being behind the other leg.

With Leg In Splits Position

This one is about as difficult as holding your leg at horizontal for the turn, but in this case instead of your hands having to stay down by your sides this time your hands go up. This turn starts in the same position with one leg behind the other and the back leg coming up while the leg you are on stays straight.

However, here your arms meet your leg and help to hold it in a straight up position by grabbing it at the ankle and holding it by your head. You hold your ankle with both hands for the whole rotation, or however much of a rotation you are doing.

With Leg In Back Attitude

While the “attitude” part might seem to throw you off, the back part is easy enough to understand. Like the previous positions you start with one leg behind the other and it is your back leg that goes up as you start to turn on your straight leg. Your hands go up into a circle in front of you that is parallel to the floor.

The leg that is behind you should bend at the knee to nearly a 90 degree angle, and it twists to the side as it goes up to horizontal back behind you. This means that the whole leg is parallel to the floor even though the knee is bent. As you turn you should be turning away from your raised foot. To end, your back leg comes forward and lands in front of your other leg even though it started off being behind it.

With Leg Held Back And Up

This is a little bit more self-explanatory of a turn which starts in the usual position and in the usual way. However it is important to know that only one hand goes back to grasp the leg and hold it arched up so that the foot is pointing towards the ceiling.

The shoulders and head tilt slightly back, and the free hand is supposed to go up with a slight arch back as well for this turn. Like the last turn, this one ends with the raised leg going down in front of the other leg.

With Leg Held Back And Up With Both Hands

This one starts out the some way, with one foot slightly behind the other which is the one that you lift up and back. However, there is much less of the lifting it into place that you can do with the other one. Instead you arch your body back and your arms stretch up and back as well so that you are literally facing the ceiling.

As your leg comes up you can then grab it with both hands over your shoulders as you turn, trying to form as perfect of a circle as you can with your body as you do your rotations.

Illusion Turn

This type of turn is quite unique in that, like its name implies, it creates the illusion that the gymnast is not rotating horizontally and is instead rotating vertically while on one foot. That being said, the execution of this move is actually pretty simple once you understand how it is done.

To get into position, place the leg that will be moving during this turn straight out in front of you with the foot at least a few inches above the floor and put your arms pointed towards the ceiling. Then throw your moving leg backwards and up as you throw the top of your body down towards the ground.

Your leg should end up going straight into the air while you torso points straight down towards the ground up against the leg that is bearing your weight. Keep rotating by swinging your leg around and back down to where it started from and your torso up on the other side from where it went down.

While you are doing this your hands are moved down to be at your sides in order to help with your momentum and you should end with both feet together, with your whole body vertical, and your hands down near your sides.

In Tuckstand

This is a slightly more complicated turn for which you start from a position where you are squatting down on one leg with your other leg perfectly straight and out to the side with the foot touching the floor. As you begin your turn you lift your straight leg up off of the floor, holding it out horizontally to the side still and swing it forward just a little and then back and around the amount that you need for your rotations.

While you are doing this you should not let your horizontal leg touch the floor and you should stay in the squat position on your other leg which should have the thigh held at horizontal while you are spinning. There is no particular way that you are supposed to hold your arms, so these are often used to help your rotation.

On Back In Kip Position

Like you might have guessed from the name, this type of turn is done while on your back on the floor. This one is quite a bit complicated to do, but can be done without too much difficulty once you learn to get into the positions correctly.

The position that you start in is on the floor leaning forward with your hands on the floor in front of you, with one leg bent underneath you touching your chest, and the other leg straight out behind you. From there you lean back as you swing your straight leg around the side and to the front, keeping it straight as you let yourself roll onto your back.

The leg that was bent underneath you moves with you while you do this so that when you get to the point where you are on your back this leg is still bent at the knee close to your chest and with the foot up against your bottom.

Meanwhile the hand that is on that side of your body moves up to hold that ankle to keep that leg in its place. These will stay in this position for the whole amount of rotations that you are doing. Your hips and your shoulders are curved up while you do this, making it so that only the center of your back is touching the floor.

Your straight leg that you swung forward now goes up and to the side some to get you spinning on your back, while your free arm swings up into the air to help with this. This arm should stay pointed up into the air while your straight leg should come to rest close to your chest, still staying straight but at a diagonal angle that points up and over your head.

As you end the rotations that you are doing, your arms come down and back as you push yourself up from the floor and into whatever your next gymnastics skill is going to be. Though this turn takes a long time to explain, it is actually done in a matter of seconds.


While those are the main rotations and the main positions to be in while you are doing them, there are countless other ways that you can mix these up. For example, if you are going to do two full rotations then you could do the first rotation in the leg below horizontal position and then for the second rotation you could move your leg to be in the held at horizontal position.

While some different positions would be hard to get into while you are in the middle of rotating, some of them are easy to change. One thing to keep in mind if you try to do this though is that you cannot slow down when you change positions.

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