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How to Do a Front Walkover in Gymnastics

Many gymnasts – especially beginners – face a major uphill battle when they first attempt a front walkover. Although it’s considered a beginner-level skill, many gymnasts need weeks of strength and flexibility training before they can perfect the form. However, once you understand the technique, the front walkover can be used in many different routines, including floor and balance beam. This guide takes you through the progressions needed to make your front walkover a useful and stunning skill.

Learning the Technique

When learning how to perform a front walkover, it’s easiest to break down the technique into four phases. The following sections explain each step in detail.

Step 1: The Entry

When beginning your front walkover, think of it as going into a handstand with your legs in a split position. Start in your basic lunge with your arms up by your ears. Use a lever position, keeping a straight line from your hands down to your back leg. Kick your legs up to a handstand as you put your hands down on the floor. Remember to keep your legs apart and straight.

Step 2: One Leg at a Time

Once in a handstand with legs split, begin to lower your legs to the bridge position one leg at a time. It’s important at this point to put your lead foot down close to your hands. Make sure your lead foot isn’t directly over your center of gravity, otherwise you won’t be able to reach the next step in the walkover: Standing up.

Step 3: Shoulders & Hips

As your lead leg begins to descend toward the floor, you must open up and stretch through your shoulders. Shoulder flexibility is a key factor to your front walkover. Keep your body in an arched position with your hips pushed forward. When your lead leg makes contact with the ground, push your hands off the floor and use your stomach muscles and hip flexors to pull your upper body up off the floor.

Hot Tip: Press Your Hips Forward

It’s important to always keep your hips pressed forward. Don’t allow yourself to sit in your front walkover or you’ll end up flat on your back.  

Step 4: Eyes on Your Hands

When doing your front walkover, always keep your eyes on your hands. You may have a tendency to lift your head as you bring your body up off the floor, but bringing your chin to your chest at this point would be a mistake. Instead, keep your eyes focused on your hands. Your head and arms should be the last parts of your body to return to the upright position.

When finishing your front walkover, it’s important to keep your lead leg firmly planted. Think about pushing your heel firmly into the ground as you pull your upper body up from the floor. Your back leg should stay straight with toes pointed as it slowly follows the lead leg over, finishing in a tondue position with your arms still up by your ears.

Common Mistakes

There are several typical mistakes that can be made when learning the front walkover.

  1. Not having enough arm strength to hold a handstand.
  2. Lacking the necessary core strength to lift your upper body off the ground.
  3. Arching your back and not stretching through your shoulders.
  4. Pulling your head forward, not watching your hands, and sitting instead of pushing your hips forward.
Mental Edge

When learning your front walkover you must keep your eyes focused on your hands at all times. Think of yourself as being led by your hips, then your shoulders, and lastly your head with your arms right next to it. All of this is done while looking at your hands.

Front Walkover Progressions

No matter the skill you’re looking to improve, it’s important to follow progressions. Each step in a progression is like a tool that can be used to further your skill level. Here are the progressions needed to master your front walkover:

  • Handstands: Holding your body weight and moving around in your handstand will help you develop better control. Also, practice doing your handstand with your legs in a split position.
  • Handstand to a bridge: While keeping your legs together, kick up to a handstand, push your body tall, and arch through your shoulders as you lower your feet to the floor. Once your feet touch the floor, hold the bridge position.
  • Front limber: Execute a handstand to bridge. Once your feet are firmly on the floor, rock back and forth until your weight is over your feet, and then bring your upper body up off the floor. Focus on your hands throughout this skill.

Drills & Exercises

The following sections break down two extremely effective drills for improving your front walkover.

Wall Backbends

This drill teaches you how to keep your eyes on your hands, and it helps you keep your hips in the proper position without the fear of falling.

  • Backbend with your back towards a wall, and then walk your hands down the wall until you reach the floor.
  • Once you touch the floor, walk your hands back up the wall.

The most important thing to remember here is to keep your body in the proper position: Eyes on your hands and hips pushed forward.

Front Limber on a Raised Surface

Using a raised surface, like a mat, helps you lift your upper body to a standing position. The following drill can be adjusted as you progress and become more comfortable performing front walkovers:

  • Handstand up by putting your hands on an elevated mat, and then slowly lower your feet to the floor.
  • When your feet make contact with the floor, push your hips forward and stand up lifting your hands off the mat.

Use two panel mats to start and then lower them as the drill becomes easier. You can also complete this drill by doing backbends on raised mats and then lifting your arms up.

Strength & Flexibility

To succeed and advance as a gymnast, you must become strong and flexible. In order to properly perform your front walkover, you’ll need to improve the flexibility in both your shoulders and hip flexors. Moreover, having the required core and arm strength is a must for front walkover success. Below are some flexibility and strength exercises to improve your front walkover.

Shoulder Flexibility

Working shoulder flexibility is of the utmost importance. Here are two great ways to improve shoulder flexibility:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms raised over your head while a coach or trainer lifts both of your arms backward.
  2. Get in the bridge position with your chest touching a wall. Use your feet to push your chest over your hands toward the wall.

Hip Flexors

Hip flexor stretches and exercises make the front walkover simpler. Follow these steps to stretch and strengthen your hip flexors:

  • Kneel on your right leg, leaving your left leg bent in front of you. Make sure your toe is in front of your knee.
  • Press forward with your hips until you feel tension in your right leg.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Hot Tip: Step it Up a Notch

To increase the difficulty of this exercise, attach an exercise band to the bottom of a chair or pole. Put a loop on the other end, attach it to your ankle, stand with your back to the chair/pole, and lift your leg with the loop around it to hip level. Be sure to keep your leg bent at a 90-degree angle and repeat 15-20 times on each leg.  

In addition to these aforementioned exercises, do multiple sets of sit-ups and leg lifts to increase your core strength. Core strength helps with the front walkover, as well as many other gymnastics skills.

Practice Makes all the Difference

Even though the front walkover is a beginner-level skill, it takes a lot of practice to improve flexibility, increase strength, and perfect the skill. It’s important to understand the proper body positions in each step of the front walkover. Taking the time to complete each progression, drill, and strength and flexibility exercise will not only improve your technique, but will also help you understand the importance of each step as you work towards perfecting your front walkover.

This guide breaks down one of gymnastics most important, yet challenging, skills: The front walkover. From proper entry to correct footwork, this guide covers it all.
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