I was at my gymnastics class the other night. Laying on the ground was a beam trainer. You know the high beam that is an event for the girls in the Olympics?

Well, this thing is the same width and length but it lays flat on the ground. That way if you mess up you don’t have a distance to fall.

It got brought up among the guys to do back flips on this thing which sounded interesting to me. I figured I’d be able to do them but when I stepped on the thing my body didn’t want to do it?


The foot position on this beam was very different from the normal even stance I’ve always used for launching into back flips. It was too much in that I didn’t feel comfortable in jumping and flipping in this position.

Regular Back Flip Stance

Regular Back Flip Stance

Beam Backflip Stance

Beam Backflip Stance

Okay, let’s break it down. Do a flip from a slightly staggered stance. Good. A little more. Good. A little more. Uh oh, that was too much. As you can see from the pictures there is all sorts of progression in moving the feet closer and also one in front of the other.

Staggered Stance for Backflip

Staggered Stance for Backflip

Hmmmm. Let’s put the left leg forward instead of the right. I can stagger slightly but that’s harder then the other way with the right foot ahead.


I’ve spent so much time working up to a back flip and always doing it out of that stance that if I move it even slightly it tends to screw me up.

Always flipping from the same stance means I can only flip from the same stance. While good for consistency’s sake its not for diversity.

Think working on these different stances would help me out? Make me better at back flips and all acrobatics. Make me better at controlling my body. Make me better at moving with coordination.

The progressions I had been doing with backflips include jumping onto a raised platform, doing them for reps, and even adding weight.

But this idea opens up a whole new world and I think its going to pay off in the biggest gains for me.

Now, you don’t have to do be able to do back flips to benefit from this idea. You can apply it to anything you’re working on.

With a handstand:

Can you kick up well with each leg?

What it you alter your stance before you kick up?

Wider hands? Narrower?

With rolling:

Can you roll from crouching? Standing? Walking?

A wide stance? Just one leg?

Can you come out of the roll in a different stance? On one leg?

I’ve covered some of this stuff before. You’ll find many more similar ideas in Tumbling Illustrated, but this idea of different take off and landing stances is an important one, at least for me at this time.

I don’t have an extensive tumbling background so I’ve had to work pretty hard for little gains. Whereas many people can easily do many tricks the first time they try, transferring skills from one thing easily to another, I’m not built that way.

Currently, I have to train each move individually and break it down into steps before doing that. So this concept will help open me up more.

Play around with it and let me know your results.

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  1. Cool! This could be interesting.. I will probably make better gains with this tip as I hope to start tumbling soon!

  2. Yes, I discovered many of these variations while training outside. I have been a gymnast for a long time, but that’s only when I left gymnastics and kept practicing outside and started parkour (I’m more parkour than freerunning, but I like having different challenges) that I played a lot with these things. And it showed very useful in my work with the circus, because I am pretty much able to perform anywhere, anytime. That’s definitely a big plus.

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