How to Do a Roundoff

Three Parts:Making Your ApproachExecuting the Round-offRebounding and Landing

The round-off is a standard tumbling move found in sports such as gymnastics, cheerleading and dance that requires strength, mild flexibility, speed, and balance. It is often the first move in a complete tumbling sequence, which means it must set the tumbler up for a subsequent skill, such as a back handspring or a back tuck. Do a round-off[1] by achieving a running start, quickly snapping your legs together as you execute the skill and bouncing off your hands into a strong rebound.

Part 1
Making Your Approach

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    Prepare for the round-off by standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides. It may help to visualize yourself doing the skill to completion before you get started.
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    Run several steps. Beginning with whatever foot is most comfortable, take a few running steps. Most gymnasts find it easiest to take a quick hop with their weakest leg and their first running step with their stronger leg.[2] Run just enough steps to reach speed necessary to complete the round-off and propel yourself into whatever move comes next, keeping in mind the space you need to complete your forward routine.
    • For best results, you should use the same number of steps each time you practice and perform a round-off.
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    Raise your arms toward the end of your run. You are preparing to put your hands on the ground for the round-off.
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    Hurdle into a lunge. A hurdle is completed when you skip into your last step before you put your hands on the ground.
    • In gymnastics, a hurdle is the transitional motion between a run and setting up for a skill.[3]
    • Remember to hurdle out, not up.
    • Bend the knee you will use to step into the lunge and propel yourself into the round-off.
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    Lunge into the round-off. Bend your stronger leg so that if you were standing still you would be standing in a lunge position with your arms over your head. Then propel your body forward with the bent leg.
    • In gymnastics, a lunge is the position used to initiate a tumbling or control skill.The lunge is recognizable because the front leg is bent and the back leg is straight.[4]
    • Keep your toes pointed straight ahead. If you toes are pointed left or right, your round-off will go in the opposite direction.
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    Extend your body before placing your hands on the ground. This will help to make your round off better and more powerful.
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    Keep your head between your arms. Lifting your head will disturb your balance and momentum and tucking it too close to your body will cause you to over-rotate your round-off.

Part 2
Executing the Round-off

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    Place your hands on the floor, perpendicular to one other. When making a round-off, the first hand goes down just like in a cartwheel, but the second hand is placed down almost perpendicular to the first, so that it can propel your body 180 degrees.
    • Imagine a sideways "T" when placing your hands on the floor. The first hand you put down should be horizontal and the second hand vertical to achieve this "T."
    • Make sure you don't leap into the round off. Your second foot should not leave the floor before the first hand contacts the floor.[5]
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    Bring your legs together just past the midpoint of the round-off. If your body represents a clock, you would bring your legs together in the 1 o'clock position.
    • Snap your legs together as quickly as you can, but do not smack your heels together. Smashing your heels together could cause a points deduction in competition.
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    Push off the ground with your hands. If you got a good running start and brought your legs together as you began coming down from the round-off, you will have the momentum necessary to push off the ground.
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    Hollow out your body as you push off with your hands. This means you will bend at the waist, and your feet will be slightly lower than your hips.
    • Many people make the mistake of piking or tucking their legs and letting their feet touch the ground while their hands are still on it. Push off hard with your hands, keeping your body banana shaped with feet before your hips, before your feet hit the ground.[6]
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    Land with your knees bent, your arms up and your body still moving. This will prepare you for any tumbling skills you want to connect with your round-off.
    • Both legs should finish at the same time, positioned together with your feet facing backward from their starting position.

Part 3
Rebounding and Landing

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    Jump into the air with your arms raised after you land the round-off. This is the rebound, and the height you achieve will come from the power in your round-off.
    • If transitioning to another move, the rebound will propel you into it.[7]
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    Keep your back straight and your head facing forward. The roundoff will often transition directly into a back handspring or a back tuck.[8]
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    Land with your knees slightly bent if the round-off is your last move. If you have to take more than one backward step, you are off balance and need to work on your control.
    • Don't land too deeply by taking too large a step backward, but a small step may help you absorb the landing so you do not hyper-extend and damage your knees.
    • For maximum points, stick your landing with your knees bent, arms up covering your ears and arch your back with your chest up and butt in.


  • Learn to complete a cartwheel before a round-off.
  • Practice makes perfect. It's not likely you will complete a round-off on your first attempt, so don't get frustrated with yourself and try, try again.
  • While on your hands, push off the ground with your shoulders, not your elbows.
  • Work with a spotter or a coach until you are comfortable completing the round-off on your own.


  • As with any gymnastics move, stretch extensively before you begin to help avoid injury.
  • Hard surfaces increase the risk of injury. Beginners should always perform on a softer surface with more spring.
  • Do not practice the round off in a noisy environment as a beginner. If you become distracted by the happenings around you, you could hurt yourself. Be careful and focus!

Article Info

Categories: Tumbling (Gymnastics) | Cheerleading