Cartwheel or Round Off? What's the Difference?

Cartwheel or Round Off? What's the Difference?

For those of you that are new to gymnastics or tumbling training, I wanted to go over a couple of moves that get talked about quite a bit: Cartwheels and Round Offs. I myself did not have the privilege to grow up going to extra curricular activities like gymnastics, dance, piano, or martial arts. So if you are like me, and only exposed to the traditional High School sports (Volleyball, Track, Football, Basketball, Wrestling, to name a few), then taking your child to gymnastics facility and seeing all the tricks and drills being done out there might be a little confusing. 

Cartwheel or round off?

Cartwheel basics

Sally is super excited because they worked cartwheels in class today and she just has to show you! Awesome right? Now you have to try to keep her from cartwheeling into the table, chairs, walls, and siblings! A cartwheel for some is an "easy peasy" skill, but for others it can be difficult and frustrating. There are some variations to this sideways, heels and hips over head, rotational skill. The most popular are Gymnastics, Side, 1 Handed, and Aerial.

What is a gymnastics cartwheel?

A "gymnastics" cartwheel starts with a stable forward lunge, then the athlete should "teeter" forward using the forward leg to push the body forward and the back leg to propel the hips upward. The legs should lock out in a V shape overhead as the athlete rotates the body 90 degrees, the hands should be side by side and support the body in an inverted position. Next, as the legs descend to the floor, the body rotates another 90 degrees back to the opposite lunge that they started in. Cheerleading and many forms of gymnastics use this type of movement.


What is a side cartwheel?

A "side" cartwheel is how it began. Think: spokes of a wheel, a cart - wheel. Arms and legs are the spokes each touching the ground with an imaginary circle. A side cartwheel travels sideways while the body does not change the way it is facing. This type is common in capoeira, martial arts, circus, and even men's gymnastics floor routines. 

What is a one-handed cartwheel?

One-handed cartwheels are done very similarly to a gymnastics cartwheel but instead of a two handed inverted position, the body is supported by a single hand. This is also common in martial arts, Cirque, and gymnastics.

What is an aerial?

An aerial is an advanced skill. The athletes body looks very similar in the middle of the skill, but the difference is that there is no hand support. A very explosive take off is necessary in order to propel the body through the air so that the hands cannot touch the ground. We see this in dance, gymnastics, parkour, and Cirque performances.

So, What is a Round Off?

I classify the round off in a new category like most people would categorize automobiles into cars and trucks. Both are similar and share a lot the same functions, but they look quite different. There are classic round offs, one-handed round offs, as well as Baranis (no handed). 

Classic round offs serve the function to prepare an athlete to perform a more powerful back handspring, or some other tumbling trick. We teach the round off from standing position first before moving into the more common running form of the trick. This is where it seems more similar to a cartwheel. The athlete starts in a stable forward lunge. As the athlete teeters forward pushing the body across the floor, the hands reach out towards the floor. The rear leg drives the hips up and as the athlete reaches inversion, the legs snap together, the arms block, or push, off the floor. The athlete should be completely in the air for a moment as the body goes from upside down to right side up. As the feet land on the ground the hips should be tucked under, legs will cushion the landing, and the arms will remain by the ears. 



One-Handed Round Offs

One handed can be much harder to complete since the athlete has only one arm to use to block off the floor to create the lift of the chest in order to land in the correct shape. Again, you will see this in martial arts when one hand is occupied with an implement, as the bow staff, or a blade, so the free hand is used on the ground. We commonly use the one handed round off to help gymnasts with beam dismounts. 

What is a Round Off with No Hands?

The Barani is kind of special like the aerial above. Why is it capitalized? Good question! It is named after Italian circus acrobat and tumbler Alfonso Barani, who performed the trick around 1881. This is a very useful skill that is used in a ton of sports, from free running, to skateboarding, skiing, and ice skating as well at gymnastics beam dismounting and tumbling. 

The Cartwheel Versus the Round Off

I hope that I have given you a little bit of an insight into two tricks that seem to be everywhere and talked about so much. If you need more of a visual....stop by and let me show you. And to those of you that want to practice...we have Adult Open Gym on Wednesday nights from 8:30pm - 9:30pm!

Happy Tumbling

Coach Heath

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