How to Do a Beginner's Backflip

Written by jess kroll
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How to Do a Beginner's Backflip
Beaches are a good place to practice backflips, beginning in the water and then on the sand. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Skilled acrobats may make backflips look easy, but they're not. They take a lot of practice and proper technique to master. They are also extremely dangerous and should only be attempted on a soft surface after establishing an ability to jump, tuck and land properly. Once the flip is landed safely, easily and consistently, it can be attempted on a harder surface. But no matter how comfortable they feel, every backflip is potentially dangerous, so it's important to remember the basics of a beginning backflip before trying anything harder.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Soft practice surface
  • Spotter

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Practice jumping first. Before even attempting a backflip you must have the jumping ability needed to bring your body completely over and land back on your feet. Practice the movement needed to generate backwards force by whipping your arms over you head while jumping, but do not tuck, and land with your knees bent.

  2. 2

    Practice jumping backwards and into a tuck. Use a soft surface, like a couch or a wave, to see how much of the flip you can complete. Begin the jump with your feet apart and knees bent. Bring your arms back and whip them forward while jumping. Extend your arms over your head and bring your knees up to your chest. Land on the soft or padded surface with your back. Keep practicing to see how much of the flip you can complete. When ready and confident, continue to the next step.

  3. 3

    Find an open location on a soft surface such a gym mat, soft sand or shallow water at the beach -- not a pool where there is concrete all around. Be sure to stretch out before attempting the flip.

  4. 4

    Place your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms overhead. Get into the stance exactly as practised previously. Make sure you are completely balanced before jumping.

  5. 5

    Swing your arms down and back to set into the squad position. Bend your knees to create as much upward force as possible off the ground.

  6. 6

    Explode off the ground just when your arms start to swing forward. Whip your arms over your head. Lean back, allowing your arms to pull you back.

  7. 7

    Bring your knees up to your chest in a tuck just as you reach the peak of your jump. This provides the rest of the momentum needed to complete the rotation of the flip.

  8. 8

    Uncurl your legs once your head is clear of the ground, about three-quarters of the way through the rotation, and brace for the landing.

  9. 9

    Land with your knees bent to absorb as much of the landing shock as possible. Be ready to use your hands if necessary for support.

  10. 10

    Continue practicing, always being just as cautious with every flip as you were with the first one.

Tips and warnings

  • Commit to the flip. Once you're in the air there is no turning back. Focus as much force as possible into completing the rotation so that you don't land on your head.
  • If possible, use a spotter to help with technique while practicing.
  • Also if possible, practice backflips from a higher surface onto a lower, soft one, such as a diving board into a pool. Once you can complete the rotation before touching the water, you can try it on an even surface.
  • Wear clothing that allows movement. You never want anything too tight or restrictive at first. Similarly, don't wear anything too heavy, as it can create drag and slow rotation. It's best to wear loose shorts and a T-shirt or tank top while learning.

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