How to Do a Cartwheel Back Flip

silhouette of a couple doing the cart wheel on the beach at sunset

The cartwheel back flip is a tumbling sequence that you can master with practice and technique. Learning this sequence will improve your overall flow if you're a free-runner or take you to the next level as a gymnast. The cartwheel might seem like an easy move, but it is not. Although many people can do a cartwheel, not many people can do one properly. Once you have a powerful, elongated cartwheel, you can link that skill into many other tumbling moves like the side flip and the back tuck.

The Cartwheel

Run forward and swing your arms to build momentum. Use dynamic movements, lifting your left leg and your right arm simultaneously and vice versa. Lift your arms high over your head and lift your lead leg slightly off the ground. Bend your lead leg at the knee but avoid lifting it too high in the air.

Tilt your upper body forward by bending slightly at the waist. Then, place your lead leg back onto the floor and turn your body sideways. Bend at the waist and put your lead hand down on the floor.

Kick out your lead leg and throw your body weight up into a handstand position, balancing on both hands. Now, spread your legs apart and use your momentum to carry your trailing leg back down to the floor.

The Back Flip

Place your lead foot back down to the floor and bend both legs at the knee. Lower your arms down toward your sides and tense your body. Build the power in your leg muscles.

Circle your arms forward and spring from your legs straight into the air. Bring your feet together and tuck your legs up toward the center of your chest. Wrap your arms around your calves or just below the knee.

Hold onto your calves and pull slightly backward. Tuck tightly and whip your body end-over-end. As your head rotates forward, open out of the tuck position and extend your legs. Place your feet back down on the ground, careful to avoid stomping when you land.


Try to keep your body at full extension, with both legs and arms as straight as possible throughout the duration of the cartwheel. Keeping your body long during the cartwheel will give you more torque when you coil up to throw the back flip. By circling your arms forward during the takeoff, you create the force necessary to turn your body out of the side-face position. Without this circling of the arms, you are more than likely to do a cartwheel side flip instead.


Only attempt this tumbling sequence in the proper setting. It's easy to get disoriented as you transition from the cartwheel to the back flip, so be sure you have enough room to complete both parts of the trick. Attempt only under expert guidance.