Gymnastics - Back Flip Layout

How to do a Back Flip Layout - Gymnastics

In this lesson you will learn how to do a back flip layout in artistic gymnastics (after a back handspring). The back flip layout is a back flip where you keep your entire body fully extended and stiff. Before you try the layout, you should know how to go from a round-off into a back handspring into a tucked back flip. I recommend you jump from a 1m springboard into water or let yourself fall from a handstand position (on a chest high box) onto a trampoline at the beginning. You can also practice the layout jumping from a box into a foam pit. Find more gymnastics skills at artistic gymnastics main.


  • Do a round-off and a back handspring or let yourself fall from a chest high box into a trampoline.
  • Land on the balls of your feet and keep your abdominals tight. Your feet should touch the floor slightly before your body reaches vertical level. If your feet touch the floor too late you will not be able to gain enough height. Keep your knees and your elbows straight. Make sure your legs are closed and your arms parallel. The animation above, shows how the legs, the trunk and the arms should be aligned.
  • Bounce off without letting your heels touch the ground and keep your knees pretty straight. Throw your hands up and keep your abdominals tight. Keep looking straight forward and don't lean back too early. Don't initiate the flip too early.
    • A rule of thumb: You should be able look straight forward for a moment before you flip over. If you can see the floor after the back handspring and initiate the flip as soon as your feet leave the floor (without looking forward), you are definitely trying to flip too early. Keep in mind that height is very important for the back flip layout. After all, you remain extended and therefore have less momentum for the rotation. You can only gain height if you think of it as jumping straight up. Convert all the horizontal energy from the gymnastic back handspring into a powerful vertical jump. It's all about the right timing and technique. If your feet touch the floor too early or too late, you will not be able to gain enough height.
  • To initiate the actual back flip layout, you align your arms vertically like if you were doing a normal, tucked back flip and push your legs and your hips up so that your thumbs touch your thighs. It looks like you whip your arms down, but your arms should actually not move after they reach vertical level. You have to whip legs up - not your arms down.
  • To slow down the rotation before the landing, align your arms, your upper body and your legs (lift hands from your thighs). At the beginning you will probably land with your hands on your thighs, but once you jump high enough you will be able to work on your technique.
  • Try to land in a stuck landing. A stuck landing is when you land on both feet at the same time and stop without the need of an extra step. Lift your arms and raise your hands as high as you can. Look straight forward. Trying to land like this, will help you improve timing and technique. Later, when you learn the back flip twist, you want to focus on the twist instead of wasting time with the flip itself. That's why getting used to stuck landings can be very helpful.


  • Instead of bringing your hands to your hips, you can also open your hands sideways, so that your palms point up (do this if your back flip layout is already very high). If you bring your hands to your thighs, the rotation will be faster. Advanced gymnasts only whip their hands to the thighs when they do a double back flip layout.
  • Land as soft as possible (on the balls of your feet).
  • Be careful with your ankles. If you lift your arms too early, you might land too flat and injure your ankles. At the beginning you should use gymnastics mats.
  • Keep your abdominals tight - Don't relax and hollow your back.
  • Video Tape yourself or get advice from an experienced gymnastics coach. Keeping your entire body straight is very difficult at the beginning. Most people do a moon sault or a piked back flip when they first try the gymnastic back flip layout.