Shea Crawford is the Tumbling Director at Midwest Cheer Elite, which has several locations, originating in Ohio.
The back handspring is such an important skill in cheerleading. It’s used in standing and running tumbling. There are multiple variations and connections prior to or following the back handspring throughout levels. This being said the development of a solid back handspring is crucial.
As a prerequisite I like to see a solid back walkover. This isn’t always a requirement but especially when dealing with younger athletes the back walkover is a progression for athletes going backwards and inverting to placing body weight on their hands. This also shows upper back flexibility as well as core strength. Often times males who start cheerleading late may struggle with the backwalkover so although it’s not a necessary prerequisite to learn a back handspring I still encourage those athletes to work on those skills to help strengthen their back handspring over time.
Sean and David covered many important pieces as well as drills that I use daily! I like to break the back handspring into pieces. Sit, swing, jump is repeated constantly. Athletic stance is the starting position followed by arms leading the way for the legs to JUMP into handstand shape. Once in the solid handstand position a solid block will lead athletes to their feet.
Leading with arms before the jump is so important. Something I hear Debbie Love say often in regards to this is to think about diving into the water, you lead with your hands to protect your head. This really helps kids understand the importance of a proper arm swing.