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How to do a Gymnastic Back Flip
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How to do a Gymnastic Back Flip

In this lesson you will learn how to do a tucked back flip in artistic gymnastics. The back flip is a bit easier than the front flip, but most people are scared of it at the beginning, because you flip backwards. I recommend you learn this skill under the supervision of a professional gymnastics coach or at least somebody who has taught people before. If you can already do back handsprings, and have some old mats to jump on, you can try it alone. Some people learn the gymnastic back flip without learning the back handspring before. It's possible, but I don't recommend that. A good preparation for acrobatic flips is jumping into water from a 1 meter springboard or jumping from a trampoline onto landing mats. Find more gymnastics instructions at artistic gymnastics main.

Execution

  • Extend your arms overhead, so that your finger tips point straight up. Your shoulders should be next to your ears and the distance from the floor to the finger tips should be as far as possible. Stand on the balls of your feet and keep your abdominals tight. Don't hollow your back - but you can round your lower back a little (not too much though). Look straight forward, focus on a point in front of you and extend all limbs. Inhale before you jump off.
  • Then strike your arms. At the beginning it will feel much easier if you swing your arms down and behind your back, but if you want to improve your gymnastic back flip, try not to lower your arms beyond horizontal level only. This way you get a realistic arm movement, similar to the position after a round-off. The illustration here shows an arms-strike slightly below horizontal level, that's not perfect, but it's not very bad either. If you are a beginner, you can strike out harder & further. At the same time bend your knees, lower your heels and inhale. Inhaling is a little trick a lot of people forget about. About the knee angle: Don't sit down too far. Bend your knees about 45° or less. Again, this is for advanced gymnasts. If you are a beginner, you can sit down further (~90°).
    Keep your upper body as straight/vertical as possible and look straight forward. Don't look down, don't hollow your back, keep your abdominals tight. If you are a beginner, you will probably lean forward when you strike out - Works, but is a bad habit. Try to keep your upper body vertical.
  • Swing your arms straight forward up, extend your legs and jump up while looking straight forward. Focus in a point in front of you keep your abdominals tight. Don't hollow your back, extend your knees, your ankles, your elbows and your entire body. The arms, the upper body and the legs should remain aligned vertically until you tuck. Exhale as you jump off.
  • Keep looking straight forward until you tuck. Don't tuck too early. Fully extend your body before you grab your shins.
  • When you think you have gained enough height extending your body, grab your shins. Don't whip your arms down towards your legs. Kick your knees up towards your head! Also don't let your arms fall back any further. Keep your arms aligned vertically until your knees catch up with your hands. At this moment you can stop focusing at the point in front of you. The most common mistake at this point is tucking with a hollowed back and looking back. Keep your abdominals tight and round your back as you bring your knees and your hands together.
  • To slow down the rotation and land upright, open up and extend your body. Lift your hands over-head. Extend your legs and look straight forward again. Don't forget to keep your abdominals tight. Don't hollow your back, don't lean forward. Land on the balls of your feet.
  • Dampen the landing with your quadriceps and the calf muscles. Never relax your abdominals, never hollow your back. At the beginning you should land on mats. Your arms should now be extended over-head again. The end-position and the beginning-position are exactly the same.

Advice

  • Before you try your first gymnastic back flip on the floor, you should practice this from a 1m springboard into water or from a reuther springboard onto mats.
  • Learn how to do a back handspring before you try the gymnastic back flip.
  • Don't hollow your back. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise.
  • Align your upper body vertically when you jump off and when you land.
  • Extend your arms over-head before you strike out and also when you land.
  • Focus on a point in front of you and look at it until you tuck in mid-air.
  • Fully extend your body and gain enough height before you tuck.
  • If you want to do a back flip after a round-off or a gymnastic back handspring, bounce off the balls of your feet, keep your abdominals tight and look straight forward. Make sure you reach up with your hands and fully extend your body before you tuck.
  • Training methods: Start with a back handspring and land on mats. Then jump higher and plant your hands as late as possible. You will probably land like a cat - on all 4. By bending your legs in the middle of the air, you will accelerate the rotation. Once you can land on your feet, you can start working improving your form.
  • For some people the back flip is easier if done after a round-off. Some gymnasts can't even do a back flip from a standing position. However, I recommend you learn the standing back flip first.
  • The tucked back flip is the most basic back flip variation.
    Other variations are:
    • Back Flip Layout -> Extended Back Flip
    • Moon Sault - Back Flip with Hollowed Back
    • Back Flip Twist
    • Back Flip Half Twist
    • Back Flip Half Twist Roll -> Back Flip with 180° Twist plus a half flip and a Front Roll.

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