One of the most basic skills in a gymnastics program, a cartwheel is often done better by girls than boys. There are 2 possible reasons for this.
This leaves boys often feeling they ‘can’t do a cartwheel’, where in fact they simply haven’t learned it yet; they’ve been far too busy with dozens of other sports.
The cartwheel is complex because it involves children rotating around 2 of the bodies axis simultaneously, whilst maintaining tension in their core and carrying their body weight on their hands.
So let’s get started. We begin our Holiday Cartwheel Fundamentals Day Program reviewing the children’s ability to bear weight on their hands. We have games, partner activities, equipment based skills and whole group movements to quickly move through this phase. This is not done on its own, as the development of body tension occurs simultaneously.
From here we raise the floor and set up activities which auto-prompt children to hop from one leg and land on the other whilst commencing rotation around the longitudinal (backbone) axis of their bodies. Hidden within these activities is the start of rotating around the short axis (belly button) at the same time.
Moving slowly until the basics are in place, we develop different levels; from a Ninja Turtle (Link to Ninja Warrior Blog) cartwheel, then one leg’s height of travel, gradually straightening until this is done at speed. Within a short space of time the raised floor becomes unnecessary with many participants developing one arm cartwheels, cartwheels in a straight line and even cartwheels from height or as part of a floor routine with up to 7 skill linked together.
What begins as a divided group of those who can’t are unsure or don’t want to, quickly grows into a single group which encourages, gives feedback, helps to monitor safety and spends most of the session laughing and smiling.
Isn’t that what every Vacation Care Centre desires in the activities children participate in? Learning something that is challenging in a fun way, that is physically demanding and ensures that children have a solid work out at the same time?
Ryan Williamson is a gymnastics and movement expert.