How to Do a Backflip

Four Parts:Preparing for the BackflipMastering the TakeoffPerfecting the TuckSticking the Landing

Also known as a back tuck, a somi, or a salto, a back flip is one of the most impressive and easily recognizable skills in gymnastics. With this move, your body makes a 360 degree rotation, beginning in a standing position and landing in a standing position. Whether you're looking to become a gymnast or just want to impress your friends with your cool new skill, you can get the hang of flipping backwards—if you're willing to invest some time and effort.

Part 1
Preparing for the Backflip

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    Undertake preliminary activities. It may be difficult to just leap into backflip mode, but there are some preliminary tricks you can do to prepare yourself.
    • Jump up as high and fast as you can several times in a row. This will help you to get a sense of what you'll need to do with the backflip. You should be jumping vertically, not backwards, and keeping your head faced forward.[1]
    • Get rolling: do some drills that get you used to the backward rolling motion. Try rolling backwards off your bed, do backward rolls on the ground, or go into a bridge backwards.[2]
    • Do a back handspring with spotters: start with one spotter on your left side and another on your right side. Have each place a hand against your lower back and another under your thigh, then lift you so that your legs are off the ground. Reach your hands above your head while the spotters lean you back so that your hands touch the ground. They should then throw your legs over your head. This will get you used to going backwards and being upside down.[3]
    • After doing the initial back handspring with spotters, use your legs to add some push as you flip backwards. Once you’re comfortable with that, keep using your legs but remove your hands (the spotters will still be holding you as you flip over).[4]
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    Ready your body and mind. The human body and brain don’t expect to be upside down, so they may react with fear when you attempt your backflip.[5] This could cause you to startle or attempt to cut the backflip off midway through, which is likely to lead to injury. In order to pave the way for a smooth backflip, you can get your mind and body ready in advance.
    • Try a hanging tuck-up: hanging from a bar, tuck your chin slightly downward and bend your knees up toward your head. Then crunch your core and rotate your body as far backward as you can.[6]
    • Do some box jumps: leap onto as high a platform as you can, focusing on height, not depth.[7]
    • You might also try piling a couple of thin “crash” mats onto a thicker one and then throwing yourself onto them on your back. This will help you to see that what is likely your most common fear—that you will fall on your back during the flip—won’t actually hurt that much.[8]
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    Use the right surface. When you're first learning to do a backflip, you want a surface that will provide some cushioning or is at least soft enough that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to jump.
    • A trampoline can work in this situation, provided that you can control your momentum. Or, you might try checking out a professional gym or a school gymnasium for access to gymnastics mats.[9]
    • A backflip newbie should absolutely stay away from hard, dangerous surfaces like concrete or blacktop.
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    Find a spotter. Until you have considerable practice under your belt, do not attempt a backflip without the assistance of a spotter, who can help you make it all the way around your flip, maintain good form, and save you from injury.
    • Ideally, your spotter will be someone who understands how the backflip works.[10] This could be a gymnastics coach, a trainer at your gym, or someone who has practiced backflips on his/her own.
    • If you have access to more than one spotter to help guide you through the flip, you’re more likely to have a safe landing.[11]

Part 2
Mastering the Takeoff

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    Get the right stance. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your arms high above your head.[12]
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    Focus your gaze. You want to keep your head in a neutral position, facing forward.[13]. It may help to pick a physical object to keep your eyes on.
    • Do not look at the ground! And don’t glance around either.[14] If you do these things, you may become distracted or lose your balance.
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    Bend your knees. You want to bend your knees slightly, as though you are about to sit in a chair—however, don’t go quite that far.
    • Don’t bend too deeply. If you’re bending like you would for a squat, you’re bending too much.[15]
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    Swing your arms. First, swing your arms from high over your head to back past your hips; then, swing them forward, back toward the ceiling. They should continue swinging until they go a little past your ears.[16] This swinging motion will help to give you momentum to lift your body into the air.[17]
    • You are actually bending your knees and swinging your arms at the same time.
    • Keep your arms straight the whole time—don’t allow them to go flailing about.
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    Jump up. Many people believe that you have to jump back to do a backflip, but what you really need to do is jump up as high as you can.[18]
    • Jumping backwards (instead of up) will cause you to lose your center of gravity and you won’t go as high.[19] And height is very important for a successful backflip!
    • If you don’t yet have a powerful jump, there are a variety of surfaces you can practice on to improve its strength: a trampoline, a resi pit, or a springboard, for example.[20]

Part 3
Perfecting the Tuck

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    Tighten your muscles. Once you lift off the ground, tighten your ab and leg muscles. You want these muscles to form a rigid line.[21]
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    Rotate your hips. Your hips, not your shoulders, provide the rotation for your backflip.[22]
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    Keep your eyes focused forward. For as long as possible, maintain your forward focus; if you look back before it’s absolutely necessary, you will change the angle of your body and slow your rotation, which will decrease the height of your flip.[23]
    • Once your body actually begins to flip over, you will naturally lose sight of your focal point. Just try not to do so before you need to and, if possible, look for it again on your way back down—finding it will let you know that you’re ready to land.[24]
    • While it may be tempting to close your eyes while flipping, you want to keep them open as this helps with the spatial awareness that is necessary for a good landing. You need to see what other people are doing so you can rim. [25]
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    Tuck your legs. At the highest point of your jump, drive your knees toward your chest. At this point, bring your arms back toward your legs.[26]
    • Your chest should be about parallel with the ceiling at the point at which you’ve finished pulling your knees to your chest.
    • You may choose to grab your hamstrings (the backs of your thighs) with your arms as you tuck your legs, or you can grab your knees if you prefer.[27]
    • If you find yourself turning to the side as you tuck, this is likely a result of your fear reflex. You may need to engage in some of the drills listed above to eliminate this fear before you are able to successfully complete the backflip.[28]

Part 4
Sticking the Landing

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    Untuck. As you fall back toward the ground, open your body back up by extending your lower back and legs.[29]
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    Hit the ground with knees bent. This will help you to absorb the shock of the landing.[30] If you land with your legs straight, you are more likely to suffer an injury.
    • You should be in a near-standing position when you land. If you’re crouched over, just keep practicing—it’ll come with time![31]
    • Ideally you will hit the ground right around where you took off from; it’s likely that you may end up within a foot or two from your take-off spot.
    • It may help to look at a point on the ground right in front of you as you land.[32]
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    Land on your whole foot. You want to land on your entire foot, not just the tips of your toes. If you find that you’re landing on your tip toes, you need to continue practicing to make your flip stronger.[33]
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    Extend your arms. You should land with your arms parallel to one another and extended straight out in front of your body.[34]


  • Be sure you can first do a back-flip on a soft surface like a trampoline before performing on a hard surface.
  • Backflips, like other aspects of gymnastics, can improve your agility, body control, and spatial awareness, among other things.[35]
  • It is possible to flip with your body laid straight out, but this is a very advanced move that should not be attempted before you’ve perfected the regular tucked backflip.[36]
  • Try doing a back flip off a diving board to get used to the feeling of going upside down and the motion of the flip.
  • Stretching before attempting a backflip will prevent injury and is strongly advised.
  • Another thing is to ALWAYS have a good coach, not only to make sure that you are safe, but ALSO so you can have an advocate.
  • Almost the entire flip comes from when you snap your knees to your chest and the fact is you're already tucked so it's a really good technique that makes the entire flip way easier and faster.


  • When attempting a backflip, be certain that the area is dry and free of any objects.
  • Never do back flips when you’re alone. If you hurt your neck or back, you might not be able to get help.
  • If you’re doing a backflip from a diving board, give yourself adequate clearance so that you don't strike your head on the board. Also, make sure that the water is deep enough so that you don't hit your head on the bottom of the pool. Never do a backflip into shallow water.
  • While you don’t technically need to be an expert gymnast to learn how to do a backflip, there is something to be said for learning simpler skills (like cartwheels and backwards rolls) before tackling something as advanced as a backflip. You put yourself at a much greater risk of injury if you leap right into doing a backflip without the proper conditioning and training.[37]

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Categories: Gymnastics