A flexible back is crucial to performing a backbend kickover.
Performed in gymnastics and cheerleading, the backbend kickover can prepare you to perform more complex moves like the back walkover and back handspring. Pivotal to performing a backbend kickover is having adequate strength in your shoulders and flexibility in your back. Once you are able to hold a handstand for three seconds and perform a backbend from a standing position, you can progress to the kickover. When practicing at home, make sure a friend or family member spots you for safety.1.
Test your shoulder strength and back flexibility to be sure you are strong enough to perform a backbend kickover. Holding a handstand for three to five counts and being able to take approximately five steps with your hands, while in a handstand, can indicate that your shoulders contain adequate strength. Follow the handstand with a backbend test; see if you are able to position your shoulders over or slightly in front of your hands while in the backbend. Attempt the backbend kickover once you pass these tests.
Clear an area in a room of your home so you have plenty of space to perform the backbend kickover; you will want to be able to kick over without hitting any furniture, lamps, plants, windows or anything else that may cause an injury. Practice on a non-slip floor that allows for traction with your hands, or use a yoga mat to ensure your hands do not slide in the middle of the move.3.
Warm up your entire body with five to 10 minutes of moderate cardio activity, such as jumping rope, jogging around the block or running up and down the stairs in your home. Follow the cardio with another five to 10 minutes of body-weight exercises to activate the shoulders and back. Perform pushups and forward bends along with yoga poses like Downward Dog and Locust pose.
Perform the backbend. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your abdominal muscles and glutes. Raise your arms above your head, keeping them in line with your ears. Extend your hips and chest forward as you reach backward with your arms. Maintain the contraction in your abs to protect the lower back as you reach your hands all the way to the ground behind you. Press into the floor with the inside edge of your feet as you move your shoulders over your hands.5.
Kick your dominant leg straight up into the air as you push off the floor with the foot. Allow the dominant leg to lead throughout the kickover so your legs pass through a full split; the dominant leg should be parallel to the ground and extended straight behind you, while the other leg is in the same position and extended straight in front of you. Point the toes on both feet.6.
Press your hands into the floor to push the second leg over your body as you lift your torso to be upright. Land with your legs in a lunge; the dominant leg is in front and bent to about 45 degrees and your nondominant leg is in back and extended straight.
- Yoga or gymnastics mat
- Ask a friend or family member to spot you if you are having trouble kicking over from the backbend position. Have the spotter support your lower back with her arms when in the backbend and to help with momentum during the kickover. The spotter should be on the right side of your body if you will initiate the kickover with the right foot; the spotter's right arm assists your right leg, while her left arm supports your lower back.
- Practice modifications if you are not yet able to perform the full backbend kickover; the modifications can help you to build the necessary upper body and core strength. Modifications may include lifting your dominant leg while in a bridge and possibly taking a few hops with the other leg. Come into a handstand split and practice landing with your legs correctly in a lunge.
- Avoid attempting too much too soon; allow yourself to naturally progress through the steps until you are able to perform the full kickover. Forcing the move can result in an injury.
- Consult with a physician before starting a new gymnastics or tumbling program. Inform your doctor if you have any back or shoulder injuries.