A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Center Split for Gymnastics

It is important to know for your gymnastics routines

Young woman in sportswear stretching against white background
Doing a proper center spllit is an importand fundamental gymnastics move. Life-Foto / Getty Images

Knowing how to do a center split is just as important as learning to do a front split to your gymnastics routines. You will use a center split into straddle jumps, side leaps, press to handstands, stalders, flairs on pommel horse, and scales.
Here is how to get into a great center split, with stretches for all of the different muscles that you will use;

01
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Butterfly Stretch

2008 Paula Tribble

  • From a seated position, touch your feet together and slowly bring your knees apart.
  • Move your heels in toward your body as much as possible, while at the same time pushing your knees gently down toward the floor.
  • Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight up and down.
  • To increase the stretch, lean your body forward as far as you can, keeping your back straight and reaching beyond your feet.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds at a time.
02
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Pancake Stretch

Pancake Stretch

2008 Paula Tribble

  • From a seated position, straddle your legs as wide as is comfortable.
  • Keep your legs straight and your toes pointed.
  • Lean forward as far as you can, keeping your back straight and stretching outward as much as possible.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds at a time.
03
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Beginner Center Split: Both Knees Bent

Beginner Center Split: Both Knees Bent

Paula Tribble

  • Start in a kneeling position, with your hands on the floor.
  • Move your knees out as far as possible away from your body, forming a straight line from one knee to the other.
  • Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and shift your weight from your hands to your elbows.
  • Gently continue to move your knees out while moving your body as close to the ground as possible.
  • Your goal is for your hips to be completely flat, or on the ground.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
04
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Beginner Center Split: One Knee Bent

Beginner Center Split: One Knee Bent

2008 Paula Tribble

Once you feel comfortable doing the previous stretch with both legs bent, try it with only one leg bent.

  • Your body should form a straight line from the bent knee to the toe of the straight leg.
  • Point your toes. It will help you to practice good form now in your stretching.
  • Switch which leg is straight.
  • Do each side for 30 to 60 seconds.
05
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Full Center Split

Full Center Split

2008 Paula Tribble

Now try the same stretch with both legs straight:

  • Be sure that your body is perpendicular to your legs. You do not want your hips to be far back or leaning forward.
  • Keep your knees straight and toes pointed.
  • Have a friend gently push down on your legs to help you get closer to the ground.
  • If you are really flexible, try an oversplit with your leg up on a mat, or even on a friend.
06
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Sit Up in Your Split

Sit Up in Your Split

2008 Paula Tribble

If you can do a full split on the ground leaning forward, it is time to try it in a seated position. This will help you learn how to roll your hips up as you would in a straddle jump.