Gymnastics Drills for a Full-Twist Layout

portrait of young gymnasts competing in the stadium

A full-twisting layout is an advanced gymnastics skill. This skill is often performed in succession with other skills, like a round-off back handspring. Full-twisting layouts can also be performed as a dismount from a gymnastics apparatus, such as the vault, beam or bars. When one full rotation of the body is combined simultaneously with a layout, a full-twisting layout is performed. Before attempting a full-twisting layout, master a strong, tight layout with plenty of air height.

Standing Twist

One of the difficulties gymnasts experience when attempting a full-twisting layout is the body deviates from the long axis. According to gymnastics coach Jon McCollum, the long axis is an imaginary line passing through the midline of the body running from the head to the feet.

To ensure your body is centered during rotation, practice a twist from a standing position. Start with your feet together and hands over your head with your arms touching ear. Jump and twist. If you fall down or land crooked, you are having difficulties with your long axis. Practice this exercise to learn how to center your body during rotation.

Trampoline Whipback

The trampoline is an excellent apparatus to work on your full-twisting layout. Use a less difficult skill to help you practice your twist. A back handspring places your body in a vertical position midway through the motion. Try a back handspring without hands, otherwise known as a whipback. Do another back handspring without hands, and add a half-twist when your body becomes vertical midway. Gradually build up to a full twist. If your trampoline permits, add a round-off prior to the no-hand back handspring to create more momentum.

Mat Layout

Hollowing your body during a twist and understanding the timing of your twist are paramount for a successful full-twisting layout. To gain perspective on these two skills, try a layout drill on a 5-inch thick gymnastic mat.

Stand in the middle of the mat with your feet together and your hands over head. Jump and fall onto the mat in a horizontal layout position. Your bottom and hollow body should break the fall. Land with your arms over your head. Immediately after landing, bring your hands down by the side of your body. Turn your head left or right, depending on which way you rotate. Allow your body to follow your head by rolling your body in the same direction. Throughout this motion, make sure your body is hollow by tightening your abdominal muscles and tucking your pelvis under.


A full-twisting layout is a dangerous and difficult gymnastics maneuver. Do not attempt a full-twisting layout without a professionally trained spot or gymnastics coach. If you have a tendency to back out of a motion midair, attempt the full-twisting layout into a foam pit until you build your confidence, form and technique.