Young students are always excited and eager to learn their cartwheels!
This is how I approach cartwheel instruction:
(1) To introduce the concept, I use either a cartwheel mat OR dots/markers to indicate placement of hands and feet.
(2) From day one, I reiterate that arms must start and finish in an upright, extended position by the ears. The student should also always extend a stretched and pointed leading foot for the preparation.
(3) With the mat or visual assistance, I also repeat “Hand-Hand-Foot-Foot”. The students are encouraged to say the words, too. It helps them sink into the pattern of the movement and exercise.
(4) For students experiencing difficulty with the basic execution of the move, I will spot their hips until they acquire the feeling of going over the center of their body.
(5) Once students are able to execute the move without the cartwheel mat or visual assistance, I continue to encourage the recitation of “Hand-Hand-Foot-Foot” until they successfully and confidently master the details of the move.
During this learning process, it is also important to reiterate:
(1) The importance of getting over the center of the body (essential for more advanced skills, such as the aerial). Spotting a child through their center is a great way for them to understand the feeling.
(2) The importance of pushing up versus out. Many times, students that are new to cartwheels will kick out versus up because it offers a more comfortable, safer feel. While this progression is perfectly normal, it is also important for students to realize the necessity of the up and over feeling.