Activities Sports & Athletics A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Center Split for Gymnastics Learning splits benefits your gymnastics routines Share PINTEREST Email Print Life-Foto / Getty Images Sports & Athletics Gymnastics Lessons Basics Competitions Famous Gymnasts Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Golf Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Amy Van Deusen Amy Van Deusen is a professional gymnast, coach, and writer who has contributed articles about the sport for espnW and other major channels. our editorial process Amy Van Deusen Updated December 05, 2018 Knowing how to do a center split is just as important as learning to do a front split for use in your gymnastics routines. You will use a center split during straddle jumps, side leaps, press to handstands, stalders, flairs on the pommel horse, and scales. Here is how to get into a great center split, starting with stretches for all of the different muscles that you will use. 01 of 06 Butterfly Stretch Paula Tribble The butterfly stretch works your inner thighs, lower back, hips, and groin area. The process: 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 of 06 Pancake Stretch Paula Tribble The pancake stretch works your hips and lower back. It's done like this: Get into a seated position on the floor. 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 of 06 Beginner Center Split: Both Knees Bent Paula Tribble Next up is the beginner center split: 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 of 06 Beginner Center Split: One Knee Bent 2008 Paula Tribble When 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 even during stretching.Switch which leg is straight.Do each side for 30 to 60 seconds. 05 of 06 Full Center Split 2008 Paula Tribble Now try the same stretch with both legs straight: Keep your body 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 of 06 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.