...But I cant EVEN cartwheel

But I can’t even cartwheel!
Something we hear a lot is:

"My child isn’t good at gymnastics. They can’t cartwheel yet".


"Ha! I’m no good at gymnastics. I can’t even do a cartwheel!"

It’s true that a cartwheel is one of the most universally recognised gymnastics skills. So it is natural to base some kind of progress on this skill.
But cut your child (or yourself!) some slack. It may be one of our ‘basic’ gymnastics skills but have you ever stopped to think about what a gymnast has to do, in order to do a successful cartwheel?
Lets take a look:
  • Go completely upside down and come back up again.
  • Make a rotation – we start forwards, turn sideways, then turn back again to stand up.
  • Travel forwards and sideways across the floor AND in a straight line.
  • Coordinate their arms and legs, in the right order AND in the correct positioning. Not just once, but you’ve four separate hand and foot placements to get right.
  • Have the strength and flexibility to kick their legs up in the air and -
  • Balance on their hands….
  • ….but not for long as you’ve got to shift the weight from one hand to the other then to the feet.
  • Oh and lets think about form too – we don’t just want the legs in the air do we, we want straight legs, straight body, pointed toes.
  • Land in your best ‘I just won the Olympics’ gymnast stretch.

And all of this with speed, all at the same time!!!
Phew I’m a bit overwhelmed just thinking about it.
Compare all these aspects to ‘basics’ in other sports – kicking a football, hitting a forehand in tennis, throwing a rugby ball, shooting a basket in netball, just simply running in athletics. It’s far more complicated and demanding physically.  Plus add in that a gymnast at the cartwheel learning level will likely be learning many new skills each session. They aren’t spending all their time learning this one skill, or even a handful – it’s literally 15-20 skills at a time across all the various gymnastic apparatus. Now this is a great aspect of gymnastics – we’re a foundation sport that can literally teach you everything you need to be able to perform any movement in life or in any other sport.
So is it fair of us to measure all our progress or expectations on if our gymnasts can cartwheel?
No. I don’t think it is. To measure progress we need to look at ALL aspects of our training, across all apparatus, both physically and mentally. Which is kind of tough to do, especially when we’re all different. We find the best way to determine progress is to ask your gymnast how they are finding class, is there anything they can do now in the whole of their class (or perform better) they couldn’t before and also, are they enjoying it. If both of those are positives… from my point of view that’s a win and lets keep learning.

You know what, some gymnasts will never be able to cartwheel like the pros..... and that's ok. 
PS If those pesky cartwheels are really proving tricky, I recommend booking in a 30min 121 lesson with us. There are literally a zillion ways we can teach cartwheels and no one is the same! Often the break through point often comes with some focused coaching and we’d love to provide it.

If interested in a 121 lesson - pop us an email to hello@affinitygymnastics.co.uk or have a look on our events page to see any upcoming 121 holiday class slots here.

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