How to Do a Backflip in 5 Easy Steps

GIrl Practicing Gymnastics
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A backflip is considered a basic skill in gymnastics because it is a building block to many other skills. It's not a simple move to learn, but once you get it, you've achieved one of the milestones on your way to becoming a high-level gymnast.

Here's how to do a backflip, in 5 simple steps.

But first, please make sure both you and your coach feel that you’re ready to learn a back tuck. It's not a skill that should be attempted by a beginner gymnast, and it should never be tried on your own without a coach present.

These tips are not meant in any way to replace a knowledgeable coach. Gymnastics is an inherently risky sport and you must be sure to take the necessary safety precautions, such as proper progressions, the right matting and the use of spotters. It is important to note that any advice you follow is at your own risk.

01
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Understand How a Back Flip Rotates

© 2008 Paula Tribble

A back tuck is much more than jumping in the air and tucking your legs up. In order to rotate, you’ll have to lift your hips up and over your head. Try this drill to help you get the feel for the right kind of tuck up by doing the following.

Lie on the floor, with your body fully stretched out. Your arms should be straight and by your ears. Then, tuck your legs up and over your head, as shown. Be sure to rotate your hips up, not simply tuck your knees to your chest. Keep your knees together and your toes pointed.

02
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Learn How to Set

© 2008 Paula Tribble

The take-off of a back flip is called the "set" or "lift." To successfully complete a back tuck, you'll need to learn how to set the right way. This set drill can be used with a spotter (as shown) or onto a stack of high mats.

Start standing up, with your back to the mat or spotter and your arms by your ears. Then, swing your arms down and behind you, while bending your knees. Third, swing your arms back up and jump as high as you can.

Keep your head neutral – looking straight ahead. Your jump should go upward and slightly backward, onto the mat or the spotter. Your arms should stay straight.

03
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Try a Flip on the Trampoline With a Spot

© 2008 Paula Tribble

If your gymnastics club has a trampoline, this is usually the best place to first attempt a back tuck. The trampoline will give you the height you need so you can concentrate on your technique.

A spotting belt is an easy way to get started. Your coach will help pull you into the air and keep you high enough until you complete the flip. Other coaches prefer to spot by hand. You and your coach will both start on the trampoline, and then they will guide you through the flip.

Also talk to your coach about arm technique. They may prefer for you to grab your knees during the tuck or may advise keeping your arms overhead or down by your legs without grabbing. Each of these methods works.

Once you begin flipping, look for the trampoline. When you can spot it, it’s time to start thinking about your landing. Land with your knees bent slightly and your hips tucked under you.

04
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Try Your Flip on Floor With a Spot

© 2008 Paula Tribble

Once you can successfully complete a back tuck on a trampoline, your coach will decide it’s time to move to the floor. They will spot you until you both feel comfortable with your ability to complete the flip. Remember to follow the right technique, and you’ll be able to learn the skill much faster.

05
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Do a Back Flip All on Your Own

© 2008 Paula Tribble

Performing a back tuck by yourself will most likely by a gradual process. Your coach will give you less and less of a spot as your technique improves, until they are mostly just standing there, ready to come in if necessary.

Many gymnasts find it helpful to try a back tuck off of a mat to give them extra height to complete the flip. You’ll also want to have a soft mat to land on.

A backflip is a difficult skill, and it can take a long time to master. But don't give up! Once you do get it, it will be an integral trick to have in your repertoire.