50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do): Master the Perfect Somersault

Task: Master the perfect somersault before they’re banned at your school.



  • Lawn or soft play area

Possible Hazards:

  • Getting clonked on the head or back
  • Bumps and bruises

How It All Went Down:

When was the last time you did a cartwheel or a somersault?  Unless your kids are in some kind of tumbling class, chances are it’s been awhile for them … and probably years for you!  Of course, somersaults are not dangerous, but like many of the things we did during recess as kids, they’re increasingly not allowed at school for fear of injury and litigous parents.  We had a beautiful afternoon with nary a safety patrol in sight,  so we went for the gold!

Believe it or not, there are instructions for The Perfect Somersault in Gever Tulley’s book.  They are as follows:

  • Prepare.  Find an area that is free of sticks and rocks.
  • Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Start with the roll.  Lean down, tuck your chin, and imagine curling up into a ball as you fall forward.  Place your hands on the ground in front of you as you encounter the ground.
  • Roll over.  Keep leaning forward, curling up as you go, and keep your back curved as you contact the ground on the wide part of your back between your shoulder blades.  If any part of your head touches the ground, you haven’t curled up enough.  If the ground hits you in the back with a thump, then you probably didn’t lean down far enough.
  • Follow through.  Try to maintain your momentum and roll up onto your feet.

Poor Elena … I think having directions to do something she already knows how to do made her overthink it!  It also didn’t help that she’d eaten 6 slices of pizza just before we attempted our somersaults.  Plain old somersaults were too easy for Eli (so he said), so he moved on to cartwheels … with debatable success (light pole 1, Eli 0).  Mike had to show off, doing the combo cartwheel into a not-so-graceful somersault.  I do think mine was the best, no?

The best part was that we were all outside as a family, goofing off.  And of course nothing draws in the neighbors like seeing you act like circus performers in the front yard!  So drop what you’re doing and master the perfect somersault today!

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).



  1. To the delight of my children (and the kids at church this year at VBS), I have been known to whip out a cartwheel from time to time… it’s also a great lesson in just having fun and not having to be perfect.

    • I love the idea of adults letting loose in front of kids like this, and totally agree that it’s a wonderful lesson in not worrying how good you are or what you look like when you’re having fun.

  2. you guys are fun parents. Really fun.