Sports & Games

What Is a Front Handspring in Gymnastics? Learn Simone Biles’s Front Handspring Drill

Written by MasterClass

Sep 6, 2019 • 3 min read

To compete at any level of gymnastics—whether it’s a local competition, the U.S. nationals, or in the Summer Olympic Games—a gymnast must have a strong repertoire in tumbling and floor exercises. This includes lunges, cartwheels, somersaults, saltos, back tucks, and back handsprings. It also includes an elemental maneuver in gymnastics: the front handspring.

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What Is a Front Handspring?

A front handspring, which is sometimes simply called a “handspring,” is an athletic maneuver wherein a gymnast performs a complete 360-degree revolution of his or her body. In a handspring, the gymnast starts and finishes in an upright position, but the middle portion consists of a forward lunge, a brief handstand, and a quick block that drives the heels over the head.

A front handspring can be performed on a vault, on the floor, or even on the balance beam. It is considered one of the foundational gymnastics skills, as it requires upper body strength, controlled body position, balance, and focus.

How Do You Perform a Front Handspring?

A front handspring consists of two components:

  1. A forward lunge and flip that propels the gymnast into a half-revolution, ending in a handstand position.
  2. A push-off or “spring” that hurtles the gymnast into another half-revolution that ends in the gymnast standing upright with hands raised above the head.

Common Front Handspring Variations

The most common way to add variations to a front handspring is to combine it with other maneuvers coming directly before and directly after it. These include:

One standalone maneuver that is derived from a front handspring is the front handspring stepout, where the gymnast spreads their legs after jumping and then lands on one leg, followed by the other—as opposed to a standard handspring where the front leg and the back leg stay together throughout.

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3 Important Front Handspring Terms to Know

When discussing a back handspring and its variations, it’s important to keep in mind three important terms:

  1. Block. This is the way you bounce or pop off of your hands after they touch down after a handspring, for example.
  2. Flic-Flac. This is another term for a handspring.
  3. Yurchenko. A vault (and vault family) that begins with a roundoff entry onto the springboard and is followed by a back handspring onto the vaulting table and a flip off the table. A twist may be added on the way off or between the springboard and the table. Learn more about the Yurchenko here.

Simone Biles’s Front Handspring Drill

Both elite and junior gymnasts master complex skills by drilling the same movements over and over again until they are committed to “muscle memory.” Simone Biles’s drill for the front handspring will help you improve your handspring skills. It’s useful to learn a front handspring for any front vault. Be sure to use plenty of gymnastics mats to land safely.

This drill helps you work on the shape of the preflight.

  1. Start on the tumble track trampoline.
  2. Bounce to your knees in a nice, rounded shape. Make sure to keep your core engaged.
  3. From there, bounce to an angled handstand (at about 45 degrees) in a “preflight” position.
  4. Return to your knees.
  5. Repeat: Knee, bounce, knee, bounce, either moving all the way down the trampoline or staying in one place.

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Want to Become a Better Athlete?

Whether you’re just starting out on the floor or dreaming big about going professional, gymnastics is as challenging as it is rewarding. At 22, Simone Biles is already a gymnastics legend. With 14 medals, including 10 gold, Simone is the most decorated World Championship American gymnast of all time. In Simone Biles’s MasterClass on gymnastics fundamentals, she breaks down her techniques for the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor. Learn how to perform under pressure, practice like a champion, and claim your competitive edge.

Want to become a better athlete? From training regimens to mental preparedness, learn everything you need to enhance your athletic abilities with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain exclusive access to video lessons taught by world champions, including Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles, World No. 1-ranking tennis player Serena Williams, and six-time NBA All-Star Stephen Curry.

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