How To Do A Forward Roll: A Beginner’s Guide for Gymnasts

Introduction to Forward Rolls

A forward roll is one of the most basic and essential skills in gymnastics. It is usually learned at an early stage and developed into more challenging variations like a dive roll, handstand forward roll, and eventually a frontflip. This skill introduces students to front tumbling in a very simple way. Because of its foundational importance, learning a forward roll is crucial for every gymnast. Today, we’ll cover how to master your forward roll.

How to Begin Working on a Forward Roll

Even though a forward roll is a basic exercise, it’s important to practice on a soft surface to protect your head and neck. At our gym, we use a cheese mat, padded spring floor, or if you’re trying it at home, practice on pillows or thick carpet.

Forward Roll Prerequisites

Before you start working on your forward roll, ensure you have enough strength to lift your body with your arms. Being able to do a push-up demonstrates that you have the strength to push your body over your head. This strength is essential to avoid putting too much pressure on your neck. Once you’re ready, here’s how to get started.

forward roll kid doing a roll down a ramp while being spotted

Steps to Complete a Forward Roll

  1. Plant Your Hands and Head on the Ground
    • Place your hands on the ground and plant your head right between them. Make sure your head is not in front of your hands to avoid unnecessary pressure on your head and neck.
  2. Elevate Your Hips
    • Get your hips high in the air with your legs pushing straight into the ground. This position sets you up to complete the forward roll with minimal assistance from your legs.
  3. Push into the Roll
    • Use your legs to push your hips over your head. If everything is set up correctly, this should not require much strength. If you struggle, try raising your hips higher or practice on a cheese mat with a coach’s help.
  4. Tuck Your Chin
    • As you start to roll, tuck your chin by looking at your belly button and squeezing your chin into your chest. This helps you complete a gentle roll and avoid landing flat on your back.
  5. Stand Up Out of the Roll
    • Once you’re comfortable with the forward roll, work on standing up out of it without using your hands. This shows control and the ability to use your momentum to return to your feet.
forward roll young child learning to do a skill by themselves

How to Train Up to a Full Forward Roll

A forward roll can be intimidating at first. Start by practicing on a cheese mat to build momentum and ensure comfort and safety. Having a coach spot you is also helpful as they can guide your hips over your head and improve your form. Both methods make this skill more achievable and accessible.

Why a Forward Roll Is Important in Gymnastics

A forward roll is one of the first forward-moving skills learned in gymnastics. Despite its simplicity, it is the foundation for every other front tumbling skill, from frontflips to front handsprings and certain vaults. It teaches important concepts in gymnastics while being an entry-level skill that anyone can learn. For all these reasons, a forward roll is essential for building a strong foundation in gymnastics.


Forward rolls are a fundamental skill in gymnastics that teach many important concepts. They are the first step to understanding and performing more advanced front tumbling skills. Having a great forward roll is crucial for any gymnast to build a strong foundation and progress to more advanced skills.

We hope this guide helps you master your forward roll. Remember, practice makes perfect, and with dedication, you’ll be rolling like a pro in no time!

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