Side splits require excellent flexibility.

How to Do a Sideways Split

by M.L. Rose

The sideways or side split is a common gymnastics and cheerleading position in which your legs are flat on the floor while your torso is angled toward one of your feet. The ability to perform a sideways split is also helpful for goalies so they can drop down and kick out their legs to stop the puck or ball. If you have flexible hips and thighs, the side split is likely within your capabilities.

Sit on the floor with your legs together and extended in front of you. Your knees should be straight while your toes may point forward or toward the ceiling.

Lean your torso forward while arching your lower back only slightly.

Swing one leg behind you so your two legs almost form a straight line from toe to toe. Your front kneecap should point toward the ceiling while your rear kneecap touches the floor. Raise your torso into an erect position but continue facing your front leg. Make sure both knees remain straight.


  • Warm up before you perform any splits with five to 10 minutes of light cardio activity.
  • Stretch your muscles regularly to gain the necessary flexibility to perform a side split. Focus on stretching the groin muscles of your inner thighs, as well as the quadriceps and hamstrings in the front and back of each thigh, respectively. Stretches may include side lunges, standing and seated straddle stretches, the pike stretch and the butterfly stretch. Perform the same stretches after performing or practicing the side splits to help your muscles cool down and to further improve your flexibility.
  • Hold your stretches for 30 seconds, without bouncing.


  • Consult a physician before attempting any new exercise routine, particularly if you have any health issues.
  • If you’re learning the side split, progress steadily at your own pace. Don’t stretch or split your legs beyond mild discomfort or you risk pulling a muscle.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • Jeff Gross/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images