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How to Do an Aerial Cartwheel

Two Methods:Executing an Aerial CartwheelBuilding up to an Aerial Cartwheel

An aerial cartwheel, or no-handed cartwheel, is an expert level gymnastics move that requires practice and patience to master. Begin your training by getting completely comfortable with regular cartwheels and one-handed cartwheels. When you feel confident, move on to aerials, using a kicking motion of your legs to give you the momentum you need to propel yourself through the move . It will take practice to get the hang of it, but soon you’ll be able to dazzle your friends with your new trick!

Method 1
Executing an Aerial Cartwheel

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    Stand with your legs a shoulder width apart. Before starting the aerial, find your balance by standing with your legs apart and your arms at your sides. Finding your balance will help you execute the aerial more precisely. [1]
    • Don’t do aerial cartwheels on a hard surface. Always do them either outside on the grass or inside on gymnastic mats.[2]
    • Use a spotter who can catch you if you fall.
    • Don't attempt an aerial cartwheel if you are not already proficient in regular and one-handed cartwheel as well as in other advanced gymnastics moves. If you go into doing aerial cartwheels with no prior gymnastics experience, you run a high risk of getting hurt.
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    Take a few running steps. Running before the aerial gives you more speed and momentum, making it easier to perform the trick with no hands. Make sure your steps are even and controlled.[3]
    • Once you master the aerial, you will be able to do it without running first. Running can make it easier to get the momentum you need as you are starting to learn.
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    Bring up your launching leg. After you have taken a few steps, bring up your launching leg, or leg that you want to launch off of for your aerial, so that it’s parallel to your chest. As you bring up your launching leg, do a small hop with your rear leg. Keep your hands away from your body, outstretched to the side and level with your shoulders. [4]
    • If you are just beginning, your launching leg should be your dominant leg, which is generally stronger.
    • Think of this as a wind up step which will help you generate the momentum you need for aerial.
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    Plant your launching leg. After you hop with your rear leg, plant your launching leg into the ground. Keep the knee of your launching leg bent and bring your arms down so that they are still out but are level with your waist.[5]
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    Kick up your rear leg. With your leading leg planted, kick off with your back leg. Your torso should now be horizontal to the ground, with your leading leg planted perpendicular to the ground and your other leg swinging up behind you.[6]
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    Swing both your legs over your head. Keep whipping up your rear leg, then launch off your leading leg so that both legs are above your head. Keep your hands in fists if you are tempted to reach out and grab the ground.
    • If you feel like you’re going to fall on your head, put your hands down. It’s better to be safe than to risk getting hurt.
    • Try to twist your torso so that it is pointed in the direction of travel, with your arms perpendicular from your torso.
    • Keep looking forwards as you go through the aerial.
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    Land onto your first leg and plant your launching leg. To finish the aerial, swing your leg between your outstretched arms and plant it on the ground. If your leg is swinging down and your arms are in its path, move your arms so you don’t kick yourself on your landing.[7]
    • Touch down with your launching leg about a foot’s distance from your landing leg.
    • Straighten up and use your hands to regain your balance if you need to. You’ve just finished your aerial!
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    Use a spotter when you are just beginning. When you are just learning how to do an aerial cartwheel, make sure to always practice with someone there to spot you. Have the spotter stand behind you and over to the side in the direction that you will be doing the cartwheel.[8]
    • A spotter can assist you by putting their right hand on your left hip when you are performing the aerial, and catch you when you are finished by putting their left hand on your right hip so you don't lose balance.
    • A spotter can also catch you if you can't complete the aerial and topple over.
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    Practice the aerial from a stationary starting position. When you are just starting learning how to do aerials, it’s easier to get the momentum you need by taking a few running steps. As you get comfortable doing aerials, cut out the running and get your momentum through your hop with your rear leg and an explosive take off.

Method 2
Building up to an Aerial Cartwheel

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    Practice doing regular cartwheels. Don’t skip practicing regular cartwheels and move straight on to aerials. Knowing how to Do a Cartwheel effortlessly will strengthen your sense of balance and coordination, which is essential in your training. Keep practicing until you feel like you can do a cartwheel in your sleep![9]
    • A regular cartwheel is the foundation for an aerial cartwheel, and if you don’t feel 100% comfortable doing it, you won’t be successful in learning an aerial cartwheel.
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    Do one handed cartwheels. After you have mastered the regular cartwheel, learn how to Do a One-Handed Cartwheel. A one-handed cartwheel brings you one step closer to your goal and will teach you how to momentum your energy through the cartwheel without using both of your hands.[10]
    • When you practice one handed cartwheels, switch off between your right and left hands. This will prevent you from becoming dependent on one of your hands for the stunt.
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    Do one handed cartwheels and delay putting your hand down. Once you feel comfortable doing one-handed cartwheels, practice doing them and wait until the last possible moment to put down your hand as you flip.
    • This will stop you from using your hand as a crutch so that you get used to the feeling of moving upside down in the air without your hands supporting you.
  4. 4
    Do dynamic stretches regularly. Dynamic stretches are extremely important if you are starting to learn aerials and other tricks. Dynamic stretches differ from regular stretches because instead of stretching and holding a position, dynamic stretches require you to stretch your muscles through a series of quick movements.[11]
    • Because dynamic stretches mimic the quick motions your body goes through as you do aerials or other tricks, doing these stretches before training minimizes the chance of pulling a muscle or hurting yourself.
    • Examples of dynamic stretches include leg lifts and kicks, body twists and side bends.


  • Watch slow motion videos of people doing aerial cartwheels to see how their body moves throughout the trick.
  • If you don’t think running is helping give you momentum, you can also begin the aerial just from your hop.
  • Try doing aerials with no shoes when you are just beginning. Your shoes add extra weight, and many find that it’s easier without them.


  • Use your hands to shield your fall if you are worried about falling on your neck or head.
  • Always do aerials on the grass or on a padded mat. Falling on a hard surface can cause injury.

Article Info

Categories: Gymnastics