Your shoulders must be over your wrists as you kick your leg up.

How to Do a Backbend Kickover

by Lynne Shaw

Gymnasts delight us with their athleticism but each incredible movement comes from a series of individual skills. The backbend kick over, called a back walkover, seems easy, but it comes from connecting skills like the bridge, the back bend, the splits, the handstand and the lunge. As your body connects these skills, it is important that you align your joints correctly to perform the back walkover smoothly and safely.

Back Bend Phase

Stand with your kicking leg pointed forward and touching the mat. Align all of your other joints, meaning place your hips directly over the ankle of your standing leg, place your shoulders directly over your hips and raise your arms until your wrists are directly over your shoulders. Align your spine by stretching tall, drawing your ribs inward and bringing your ears back over your shoulders.

Squeeze the buttocks of your standing leg and keep it tight so that your hips don't shift forward as you bend back. Look upward slightly and tilt your chin up until you see your hands. Your thumbs should be pointing toward each other. Lead with your hands as you raise your chest and begin to arch backward.

Raise your kicking leg as your hands lower toward the floor. Touch the floor, shift your chest over the heel of your hands and push through your shoulders. Raise your kicking leg in continuous motion over your shoulders. Lead your hips forward over your shoulders and wrists. Stretch your spine through your tailbone as your standing foot leaves the floor.

Handstand Phase and Finish

Keep your momentum smooth and continuous as your split legs and hips travel over your hands. Keep pushing through your hands and shoulders to lengthen your spine as you pass over the handstand. Square your hips, which means tighten the buttocks of your back leg to prevent pelvic rotation.

Place your kicking foot on the floor slightly turned open. Keep your stomach contracted in toward your spine and push through your shoulders to shift your weight from your hands to your bent front leg. As your hands leave the floor, your back leg, spine and arms are in a straight line.

Transfer all of your weight to the front foot and keep your arms by your ears. Keep the straight line of your arms, spine and back leg as you raise your torso up and place your back foot on the floor. Finish in a lunge, with your gaze slightly upward.

Items you will need

  • gymnastics mat
  • spotter


  • Keep your legs straight and toes pointed throughout the handstand phase. On your first attempts, bridge up with your feet on top of a folding mat, then kick over and end in a lunge.


  • Master a bridge, a back bend, a forward split, a handstand and a lunge before you try a back walkover. Always warm up and stretch before trying back walkovers. Spine safety is important, so keep your weight shifted over your shoulders and through the upper back.

About the Author

Lynne Shaw has been a professional writer for more than 15 years. She additionally enjoyed a long career in news/talk radio production and anchoring. Her articles have appeared in numerous national and regional publications. She is a contributor in "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul."

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images