There are few acrobatic skills as amazing as the backflip. Sure you have front flips, handsprings, aerials and many more, but there is just something about the backflip that puts it above all the other skills.
Then again maybe it’s just me. But since I was a child I have wanted to be able to pull off the back flip with ease like a ninja or superhero. I never thought it would actually happen though. Even on a trampoline I couldn’t get myself to go backwards. I was too scared.
Here I am, not all that much older, and now I can pull off the move. It’s not perfect and I still have a lot of work to do as you’ll come to see but I can do it.
In this article I am going to share with you what it takes to pull off the backflip as well as how to work up to it.
First a warning. Do not attempt any of this on your own. Performing backflips and other acrobatics is potentially injurious, even life threatening. Do not attempt without the proper facilities and under the supervision of a professional. If you really want to learn the backflip I recommend you enroll in a gymnastics class.
The backflip, also known as a back tuck, consists of three phases. The takeoff, the tuck, and the landing. And of course they are done in that order.
The takeoff is not just how high you jump, but more importantly, the trajectory you take. You do not need to be able to jump high in order to pull off this move. Yes, it can help, but if you do the rest right you won’t need much.
You want to take off at an angle that is just slightly behind straight up. Go forward and you are doing a gainer which is more difficult. Launch too far back and you are cutting your jump short, not giving you the space to complete the move.
In addition you want your hands and arms to be above your head at all times. In case, you botch the move they be there to protect you.
Once you jump at the correct angle and are fully extended, the next phase is to pull your legs in toward your chest to rotate over and complete the flipping action. All you do is pull as hard and fast using your abs to get the rotation. Do not think so much of leaning back (this tends to throw off your jumping angle if you do it early anyway). Just pull hard on the legs and you’ll flip.
The last part is landing the move. When you rotate you’ll be falling back toward the ground. At the right moment you stop your rotation and open back up. You land on your legs. If you do everything right you should end your backflip back in a standing position. If you do not pull off the best back flip you can still land hunched over or even with your hands on the ground in a frog position.
It is very helpful when you are practicing to get a video taken. This way you can see how you are jumping plus the rest of the move and what you need to do to improve. If you can’t do this, verbal cues from another person like, “Jump up more” can suffice.
In the video below I’ll give you some extra pointers. This is actually not the best example of a backflip. The lesson here is even though my takeoff, tuck, and landing all are not perfect I can still pull it off.
You don’t need perfection, though you should strive for it, just good enough.
I know that reading that is not going to help you complete the move. So here is my step-by-step plan in how I attained the backflip. Starting from ground zero.
1. Jump and fall back into raised padding. This gets you use to going backwards.
2. Do a backflip on a trampoline with a spot.
3. Do a backflip on a trampoline by yourself.
4. Do a backflip into a pad from a raised height (start at about 3 feet) with a spot.
5. Do a backflip into a pad from a raised height by yourself
6. Work down in height until you can do it without any extra height.
7. Do a backflip on the floor (no padded landing) with a spot
8. Do a backflip on the floor.
9. Take it outside, recommended to do it in the sand or grass. Start with a spot if needed.
These steps are taken from the Tumbling Teleseminar, a bonus for Tumbling Illustrated. More details are given there on this and other skills. But that is how I went from not being able to do a backflip on a trampoline to doing them easily at the park by myself.
If you work at it, you too can master the backflip.