Alternate names: Back tuck, Salto
Description: A three hundred and sixty degree backward rotation over the head!
Equivalent variations: Back pike, layout, performing it during a tumbling sequence
Advanced variations: Flash kick, X-out, halftwist, fulltwist, gainer
- Move preview: A single short clip or multiple short clips for observing the skill.
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- The Back flip exampler: A video overview of the move with a narrated walk-through.
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THE BACKFLIP IS A GIGANTIC GATEWAY...
A gigantic gateway to an entirely new level of tricking that is! In the beginning, it's a game of fear. Technique is absolutely crucial here if you desire any chance what-so-ever of completely executing this move (safely). Learn the technique, study it first - ask questions only after you've tried the move. You must understand it, and once you have excited yourself about the prospect of breaking through the gates and achieving an ass load of other cool tricks - go get a spotter and toss it.
A word on fear
Fear is a natural emotion, a survival instinct. It indicates that you should be alert. Fighting or forcing away fear creates a counter force that will make you tense and anxious. This will interfere with your chances of landing a back flip. You need to release or forget the fear, not fight it. Fighting fear will only fuck you up. You'll be ready when you're ready. My advice for overcoming fear of this
move or any other move is to do three things. The first is to learn the technique
of the move. Visualize yourself doing it with perfect, flawless technique. Feel
it, and understand it COMPLETELY! Next is to rationalize it. What is the worst
thing that can happen? How could this bad thing happen? Why am I scared? You'll
realize the worst that could happen is a small crash. You're scared of pain,
and pain is irreverent. It will correct you so you won't make the same mistake
again. Having a spotter will minimize the chances of experiencing a painful
crash to a great extent. The last is to have fun. If you're having to force
the learning process of the move you won't get it. When I was learning it the
first few crashes weren't too fun. Then I let go of the desire to land the move
and just started focusing on what is important: The technique, the thrill, and
the moment. I can't release your fear, you have to do it yourself. Stop being
frustrated and focus on fun.
- Keep your arms high and your feet shoulder width apart. You will later drop them down and back for momentum.
- Before any jump you must dig, so
dig! Never glance down at the ground. You look at the ground and you lose.
Keep a firm focus on a spot slightly higher than your head level. My arms
are currently dropping back and behind me. This will give me enough momentum
to launch my body up into a full back flip.
- I can't stress enough to keep your
eyes focused forward. Never / Ever / EVER look at the ground during takeoff! Keep your eyes focused on a spot slightly above head level. When you dig down, try not to let your legs
go below a 90 degree angle with your knees. Sling your arms back. In the next few slides you will observe as they drive me up into the jump.
- My arms are traveling back upwards, tear them up there and jump up!
- JUMP! My arms are pulling me upwards!
One mistake people tend to make is leaving their arms down by their
hips before they jump. It's commitment, you must use all your force in unison
and combination. So USE your arms. It's the #1 mistake people
have when asking me for help. If I jump without using
my arms I get no height. If I get no height, I crash. So jump and use your arms to launch you UP / not back. UP! JUMP UP! / NOT BACK! Really push off with your legs, think of
this as a vertical jump as high as you can.
- You want to keep your eyes focused
in front of you as long as possible. You will notice people who have great
back flips do almost a complete vertical jump and bring their legs up then
roll over. So once again I stress - JUMP UP/NOT BACK. Keep your eyes
forward as long as possible to maximize the jump. When you look back that
is when you stop gaining height.
Quick note about visionary focus during backflips: Why keep your eyes focused forward? Because if you prematurely look back, your neck extends and your chest opens up - meaning you create unnecessary arch in your lower back which slows the rotation and eliminates height. Sure, the move works if you look backward and have a parachute chest as you advance - but by not looking back and keeping a relatively hollow body position, will make good for maximum height and rotation during the backflip. For example, if you ever want a double backflip, you'll kill yourself if you don't maintain the hollow position with rounded forward shoulders: And the only way to maintain that is blind entry into the move - by not ever looking back for the ground.
- You should reach the pinnacle of
your jump before you roll over, but of course we all roll over at some point
or it wouldn't be a back flip, it be a jump! =]
- Keep focusing forward
and start bringing your legs up. The driving force of the knees coming up in combination of the arms continuing to drive up and back into a tuck is what rolls you over.
- Notice what my arms are doing. They
are going back towards my legs. This is called tucking. You will want to
get your arms to take you up as much as possible, then when you are rolling
back you want to bring them back towards your legs. This will help your
body finish the rotation. If you don't tuck, you lose. So tuck! My legs
are still coming up together. Keeping them together isn't hard, you just
uhh... Keep them together. :)
- A back flip is also called a
tuck because tucking is sooooo important for the landing involved
in this move. I'm bringing my legs towards my chest and pulling my arms
back (tucking). Think about it like this > Knees to chest, arms tuck.
If you think about it they are working together to get the full rotation.
There are a few ways too tuck. One is to grab behind the legs, the hamstrings.
That was the way I learned to do the backflip. Then there is method of grabbing
the front of the knees. I prefer to grab the front of the knees because
it takes less effort for me. Another way is to not actually grab the legs
but just go through the motion with the arms. Whichever way you choose to
do it, do it right.
- This move is just about finished.
Just keep pulling your knees in a rotation and start extending your lower
- Extend your knees here to land. The
tuck is complete so you can either let go/relax your grip/ or just keep
them by your sides.
- In unison extend your legs and your
lower back to stand back up.
- When you land, there are a few things
that will indicate whether your back flip has a good amount of stability
or air time. The best indicator is if you're landing on your heels. You
want to land on your WHOLE FOOT/ not just your toes. If you land on your
tip toes, keep flipping and working on getting a stronger flip. You want
to land on your whole foot (toe to heel). You want to be in a near standing
position after landing. If you're crouched with your chest against your
knees, keep working on it.
- That concludes the back flip walk
through. Just stand back up or do a few flips in a row. Special notes about
getting this move: No pools/No higher platforms/ No crash mats or pillows.
Get a spotter! A spotter not only will help you rotate all the way around,
but they can also help you land the move on
REAL GROUND. A back
flip into a pool, off a platform, or into a pit isn't a back flip at all
/ it's setting bad technique and not teaching you anything about truly landing
the move. Do it on normal/hard ground and get someone to protect you. It's
also helpful if your spotter understands the move really well too. They
can spot mistakes you're making you're not aware of. Taegashi for one really
encouraged me to use my arms more while I was learning it, I wasn't aware
of this and it helped mounds! He rocks, and spotters rock too!
Keep in mind:
- Keep your feet shoulder width apart and never look at the ground.
- When you takeoff don't crouch down below a 90 degree angle.
- Don't jump back, jump up! Use your arms to launch you UP!
- Keep your eyes focused forward on a spot slightly above your head level.
- Bring arms as high as possible, don't forget to use them or you lose.
- Wait until the peak of your jump and bring your knees up together.
- Don't tuck too early. Jump up then just let your body roll over and tuck.
- When landing, land on the whole of both feet.
Specific Problem Advice:
- If you can't get all the way around and you land short (like on the knees),
you probably aren't committed to your jump. Wait until the peak of your jump
before you tuck. Also you might be letting your arms stay by your side. Grow
ballz (if you're a girl don't grow ballz) and go UP as high as you can. Don't
cut your momentum short.
- If you freak in mid-air and crash from fear stop and take a deep breath.
Re-analyze your technique and ask your spotter what you look like or what
you could improve (yes, a spotter is required). When you try again keep your
cool head and keep at it. After a few spotted crashed your fear will drop
- If you're getting overly frustrated and tired you could do two things. The
first is stop and try on another day. The other is you could learn to have
fun. Savor the moment. When I was learning the move after a few spotted crashed
my fear was dropping a ton, THAT is when I had the most fun. I was so close
and it felt damn fun. Focusing on having fun will help you so much...
- If you are crashing on your upper body, then you are going backwards. GO
UP! NOT BACK! >=]
- If you're flipping at an angle you're not bringing up your legs together
in unison. You also might be trying to look to a side in fear. Jump up and
keep your body straight, don't turn on a side.
- Your spotter needs to be standing one one side of you. Whichever side is
- Your spotter needs to be crouched down a bit and his/her legs need to be
comfortably spread apart.
- Your spotter needs one hand behind your legs (hamstring region above knees
and not touching your ass) and one near the middle of your back. When you
jump they're going to throw your legs over and keep the other hand on your
back for support. This form will help you rotate while keeping you from experiencing
an ugly crash.
Capture and tame a good spotter:
It would be best if your spotter had these characteristics:
- They should understand the back flip If you show them how it's done via
video before you have them spot you they can possibly note if you're not using
your arms or making other stupid mistakes. Also give them just one thing to
look for in your technique, this will ensure they notice that one thing you're
curious about. For example: If they watch the whole move, they might not remember
exactly what your arms were doing. If you tell them
Watch my arms, tell
me if they are going UP, or if I'm leaving them down, then they will
probably be more helpful. Tell them what you want to know for each attempt.
- They need time. It's not best to catch your dad to spot you right after
he gets home from work. He'll want a shower, food, and to read the newspaper.
Get a spotter with AT LEAST 15-20 minutes worth of time and patience.
- They need to be confident in you. If you're getting your mom to spot you
she might be frightened (as most moms are afraid you'll land on your head
or something). If you are showing fear regarding the move she'll try to get
you to stop or won't help. If you're cocky then you might trick her into thinking
you're going to hurt yourself and there is no way in stopping you from trying,
so she might think spotting you is the best way to save your life! It's like
Mom, either you spot me, or I try by myself and I could die,
hehehe... it'll work! Though it's near impossible to die from a back flip
they will believe it. Anyway, I've landed on my head a few times, it doesn't
hurt at all :)
- They can't be afraid to actually SPOT you. If you crash one
time hard and didn't feel them helping you through punch them in the face
and get a more committed and hands on spotter.
Oh yeah, this is a good one.
I wanted the back flip for more than a year. I tried pools, trampolines, spotters,
high platforms, crash mats, tutorials, caffeine, and pure guts. Everything! I
was so scared of it. The fear was eating me alive. The few weeks before I landed
my first one I was thinking about it a lot. I knew the technique very well, I
had envisioned myself doing it for weeks. I wasn't too scared for some reason
this time when I thought of it. I believe if you have the technique in your head
and give yourself some time to envision yourself doing it over and over again
it helps relieve you of some fear. Finally I got Taegashi to spot me, I didn't
plan on doing back flips this day though. At this point I had never seriously
tried a spotter, however, Taegashi is a damn good spotter. This time I took it
seriously and bared with it even though I really didn't feel comfortable. I tried
it a few times and suddenly my fear was almost completely gone. I crashed a few
times and some hurt, but I was seeing changes between each of my attempts. Taegashi
was giving me tips on my form and I finally was starting to have a lot of fun.
Finally he left my house and I was still left training. I tried about 4 back flips
that all crashed on my knees that took a good twenty minutes of concentration.
Each attempt I thought about for long periods of time. I was thinking and preparing
a lot. Finally I stood and focused for a really long time before I finally jumped
up and YES!!! I DID IT!!! In fact I have all this filmed. Go to the video section
and check out the Finally Backwards sampler eh! :) Or you can download the thing here. That is my story, on film. ^_^