Gymnastics was originally conceived over 2,500 years ago, making it one of the oldest sports in the world. Developed in ancient Greece, modern gymnastics has evolved over thousands of years, combining elements of tumbling and dance into a highly disciplined sport, requiring strength, flexibility, dexterity, gracefulness, and a pinch of audacity.

Mastering any facet of gymnastics can take years of hard work and training with proper coaching, but understanding the basics will make the journey from beginner to intermediate fast and fun. 

Before you start, make sure you have plenty of space to practice in that's free of obstacles, and proper padding. An area of about ten feet square is a good starting point. A good mat is a must, providing a stable surface to perform on, and the right amount of shock-absorption for protection. Our EZ Flex Home Practice Mats are perfect, and they come in a variety of sizes and colors. Finally, make sure to wear clothing that's not too tight and not too loose. Leave yourself room to breathe.

Here’s a list of the first three skills you should master. Practice them daily, and once you’ve got them down you’ll be prepared to move on to intermediate level skills:

Forward Roll

Also called a somersault, the forward roll is a frequently used method of movement in gymnastics that is often combined with other techniques.

  1. Squat with your knees together and place both hands flat on the floor in front of you.
  2. Tuck your head down with your chin to your chest and push forward and over with your legs. 
  3. When initiating the roll, keep as much weight as possible on your arms and hands.​

Backwards Roll

The backwards roll is a reversal of the above, and utilizes the strength of the arms and the abdominals for momentum rather than the legs. The most important rule is not to roll over one side of the head, but to keep your head and neck straight.

  1. Start from a squat with your hands on either side of your head.
  2. Roll onto your back with your hands beside your head, fingers pointing toward your shoulders.
  3. Push over with your hands and end the roll on your feet, not your knees.

​Handstand

One of the most important skills in gymnastics, the simple handstand is the beginning or end point for a large number of more advanced techniques. The best way to become comfortable with a handstand is to practice it as often as possible.

  1. While learning the handstand, it’s fine to “lean” against a wall with your heels, and then progressing away from the wall.
  2. As your balance improves, try to make your handstand as “tall” as possible by stretching out.
  3. The goal is to be able to look up at your toes and maintain your handstand.

Once you’re comfortable with these techniques, you’re well on your way to becoming a true gymnast!