back flip

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.

back flip

When I was a young boy I watched super heroes and ninjas on TV and movies. I was always awe struck by what they could do. One move that captured my imagination more than most was the back flip. I thought about just how cool it would be to easily pull off that move anywhere and any time. But it was just a wish at that point. I didn’t think it was actually possible. I wasn’t a gymnast. I wasn’t athletic. Hell, I couldn’t even do a pushup as I was a weak, scrawny and uncoordinated kid.

Fast forward about 10 years. I had gotten into strength training particularly bodyweight training. As I started to progress in this I knew I wanted to take it to higher levels so I joined an adult gymnastics class. Considering this class was full of ex-gymnasts I was quite out of my league but I was willing to work. It began with the most basic of moves like rolling, cartwheels and roundoffs but with time it became more complex and the skills got harder.

I began working on the backflip. For me it was a long hard road ahead. I couldn’t even go backwards on a trampoline for fear of hurting myself so I really had to go piece by piece.

But after a few months of work I had it down. I was effortlessly throwing back flips in class and soon outside. I had mastered a life long dream.

Just practicing the backflip outside at parks I’d frequently have kids, and even adults, exclaim how awesome it was and how they wish they could do it too. 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.

Warning: It is not recommended to 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 Three Phases of How to do a Backflip

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 this backflip I'm going to far backwards and not up enough. I still pulled off the flip but landed shorter than ideal.

In this backflip I’m going to far backwards and not up enough. I still pulled off the flip but landed shorter than ideal.

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. Some people will tuck the arms back into the body as they near completion of the flip.

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.

This is a good example of the "tuck" nearing the end of the flip.

This is a good example of the “tuck” nearing the end of the 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.

Back Flip Videos

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.

Here’s an updated video covering even more details on how to do backflip.

Of course you can take it even further once you have achieved the basic skill. Doing it onto raised platforms and going off of objects is one method. Adding weight is another. And here in this video is doing five backflips in a row.

Backflip layouts are another option though these generally take more height to pull it off. They can be done off objects as well as on a gymnastic floor after generating some extra momentum.

backflip layout

How to Spot a Backflip

Spotting a backflip is actually quite easy to do. You’ll want to have someone who has done this before if its the first time you’re going head over heels.

Step 1 – Stand to the side of the person doing the back flip.

Step 2 – Place one hand in the center of the lower back. This hand can even grab onto their shirt. The other hand is placed above the back of the knee joints on the underside of the thighs.

Step 3 – When the person jumps, the hand on the back is used to support while the hand on the legs is used to flip the person over.

Step 4 – The hands should only let go once the person is completely over.

My Step-By-Step Training to Achieve the Back Flip

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.

If you work at it, you too can master the backflip. Do you want even more details. Check out my short and inexpensive book covering every detail I know about doing backflips.

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days

Comments

  1. I can jump a about a feet. Can I do this? Also, how do I do it? I am very fearful of jumping back. Can a 170 lb guy do this. About 5’5”

    1. Author

      @Kevin: If you follow the steps I write in the article you’ll be able to work up to it. I wouldn’t recommend just going for it, as that ‘fear’ can make you do bad things in the air. If you work up to it properly your size will not matter.

      -Logan

    1. @saugat: If you’re spotter knows what he or she is doing then yes. But if they’ve never done it before I’d caution against it.

  2. If I can do this off the diving board( the lowest one), will I be able to do this off the ground?

    1. @Karson: You at least have the backflip motion down although the diving board would help with the jump. The question is how high above level ground are you completing the flip? If you have lots of clearance then you can probably do it on the ground. Hope that makes sense.

    2. @Karson: I am a diver, and could do impressive back flips, and even a few 1 1/2 rotation back flips off the diving board. However when I first tried a back flip on flat ground I cracked my head and had to get 3 staples in it. This was due to the fact that diving board and flat ground physics are different in many ways apart from just the bounciness. You can probably physically do it, but the best way to test/practice that ive found is to see if you can do a gainer off the diving board (going off the board forwards and throwing your legs back into the back flip)

  3. i’m still a youngster but i’m advanced in parkour and free running i’m from the city by the see corpus christi texas i’m holding competitions for anyone who can show what they got i have my crew so do you if so come on over

  4. I don’t have a trampoline and none of my family or close friends can backflip! But I realy want to learn. Who can I use as a spotter? And is sixteen to old to join a gymnastics class?

    1. @aily: You may have to ask around to find someone who can spot you. And no, 16 is not too old for gymnastics. I joined a class when I was 20. You just have to find the right one.

  5. I can easily do a backflip on a trampoline, even with no jump. but i can’t get my self to go through with the move on a raised surface, don’t know a spotter i can trust, and i don’t know where any gyms are, any suggestions?

  6. i can do a backflip on a trampoline but i always get a backward thrust from getting to close to the edge and i ……ow. i want to try to do a backflip in my backyard on the grass but ive never done it before and there is no one in my neiborhood that i know who has any exp in this. any suggestions?

    1. @PkDeken & @Elijah watson: I would keep searching to find someone who can spot you. Even if they haven’t done it before it’s not too difficult to do. Setup tons of cushions around and go off a raised area so you have more room. This is the best advice I can give with your current resources. And I’m not responsible if things go wrong.

  7. Pingback: 5 Backflip Video | Lost Art of Hand Balancing

  8. hey,i dunno if anyone answers on the site still lol.but ill be checking.
    iv gone to openy gym alot on saturdays for couple months i was doing backflips in the foam pit then the trampoline then on a mat then on floor.that day was SO FREAKING AMAZING!!! i loved that i finnaly did it.but then i go outside alone well not alone wiht my bro but he doesnt know how to do them.and i didnt do them that day.but i felt that if i saw SOMONE ELSE DO IT i would uv done it.if only my brother knew!!! been like that for four months.
    Also i would webster off a bunch of chars and run up to these little like 3 foot high metal things and webster off them.and then just one day i go outside and didnt do them.i felt something that i havent felt in months.Fear of doing a webster.then i recently felt the same thing for my frontflips which iv been doing since end of feburary.WTH IS GOING ON!! WHAT!>!>!!!!?!?!??!? what.i still got wallspins! and im happy for that but whats happening man

    1. @steven: Glad to hear of your progress. Sometimes the fear is able to creep back in. What I had to do to be able to consistently do backflips outside is to practice just that. The first one is always the scariest.

      When you go to the gym often you get all warmed up with acrobatic moves before doing a backflip. Whereas many times outside the gym you’re ‘cold’. Thus the next time you go to the gym practice the backflip without warming up at all. This will make doing them outside easier.

      Besides that don’t let it get to your head. Sometimes thinking less helps.

  9. I’m 16 years old, 6’2 180lbs. Would being tall be an advantage or disadvantage. I want to be able to do a backflip for an endzone.

    1. @Jeff: I think being tall is a slight disadvantage just because you have longer levers to bend and rotate. But I don’t think this is a big problem at all. I’m 6’2″ as well.

  10. cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I can flip of walls in n a trampoline bit I can’t jus do it on the ground with no hop how can u help me

  12. hey i am no flexible at all, i cant touch my toes umm to be honest i dont get close to touching my toes and i dont jump high too. would i still be able to do it if im not flexible?

    1. @haseeb: Having better flexibility and jumping definitely helps. The backflip is something that should be worked up to for most people, not just something you jump right into (no pun intended).

  13. Logan, I’m 18, about 6’3” and close to 190 pounds. I want to learn to do them, I have a trampoline in my backyard. How would I begin the back flips? I can do front flips easily in the pool w/o diving board. I have not tried front flips on the ground yet, but I don’t think it would be too hard if i wasn’t so afraid. I can do front flips on the trampoline, however, though I stumble around alot after doing so (on the trampoline) How would I proceed to back flips on the trampoline? Do I jump high first, then flip, or would I just try jumping up and landing on my back first to get that feeling of going backwards? Any tips? Thanks

    1. @AJ: I would suggest having someone spot you on the trampoline. Just get a friend that knows what he’s doing. Other than that follow the suggestions as laid out in this article and video.

  14. how long does it take to take to master backflips ,kip ups and side flips and are they hard to do?

  15. 19:18 Where should i practise tese and how well do they work,how long do they take to learn and should i join a martial arts dojo so they will teach me these tricks? by the way im in the uk

  16. I’m 5’8″ and i have a 17in verticle, how high should i try to get it?

    1. Author

      @Casey: Increasing vertical is good, but learning the technique is more important. Even with what you have right now, it is sufficient to do the backflip. More height just gives you more time to do it in.

  17. Good work by u persons, u really helped me to learn backflip, but unfortunately i didn’t do it now also , only somewhat is done by me. But i have a dream and i will approad to it as soon as possible.. Thanx to u

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