Backflip Tutorial 

In case you're new to this planet and actually don't know what a backflip is, it's where you leap into the air and rotate backwards, feet forward all the way over your head, then back down to the ground. There are so many variations and adaptations of this move it's really quite ridiculous. You should learn it right now. Here's a tutorial to help get you started.


In case you're new to this planet and actually don't know what a backflip is, it's where you leap into the air and rotate backwards, feet forward all the way over your head, then back down to the ground. There are so many variations and adaptations of this move it's really quite ridiculous. You should learn it right now.

Backflip Tutorial Video


Best place to learn it is in a gymnastics gym with all the nice padding but alternatively you can learn it outdoors with a spotter on sand or grass. I wouldn't advise concrete, it may slow the learning process. Trampolines are ok for learning the technique in the air but eventually you'll have to learn to jump. Pools aren't good for getting started because a perfect back flip will land exactly where you took off from.

Begin with your arms straight up and your feet a comfortable distance apart. I go a little less than shoulder width. Focus your eyes on something in front of you such as the horizon. Keep your eyes focused here until the top of the jump where you begin to rotate.

Swing your arms down and back while simultaneously crouching down till you make about a 90degree angle with your legs. If you go too deep you won’t have as much power for the jump.

Now forcefully swing your arms back forward and up over your head while jumping up. Your arms should reach the top just as your feet leave the ground. Be sure to extend your whole body up all the way through your ankles. This position is called the "set."

It's important that you wait a brief moment to reach the top of your jump before you tuck. Try a few leaps without the tuck to get a feel for the timing. You're still looking forward aren't you? AREN'T YOU!!??!

This is the all important tuck. Without it, you're in for a lot of pain. Tuck your legs up in front of you as tight as you can. (See the note on muscle use below) Also grabbing your knees/shins can help at this point. Either you can bring your arms out and down by your sides as I do here, or bring them straight back down the way they went up. However, if you do it this way don't throw them back down because it will counteract your rotation, just let you legs come up to your hands. Oh, you can stop looking forward now. Just keep your head in a neutral position.

Once you rotate around, you will see the ground which will help you spot the landing. Open you legs and hips, allow your vision to continue rotating back up to the original point you were focusing on.

Like any landing in freerunning, land first on the balls of your feet and absorb with your knees. You should be looking forward at the same point you were at the beginning. Check if you've landed in about the same place you took off from. If it's a height backflip then it can help to put your hands down to absorb as well.

Helpful Hints:
Correct Muscle Use - When entering the tuck position, it's much easier if you use the correct muscles. You shouldn't use your abs because they bring your chest to your legs, like in a sit-up. Instead it's best to use your hip flexors. To get a feel for the correct motion, lay flat on your back and lift your legs up quickly. Touch your toes on the ground above your head if you can. Don't worry about bending your knees at this point. Not only can this help you become more comfortable with firing the correct muscles for the tuck, it's also a good exercise to get a more powerful tuck. It also helps to think about pulling your legs up with your ankles. See the video for a demonstration.

Fear - This is one of the biggest obstacles for a backflip. We naturally have a little voice in our brain that says it's bad to go over backwards. The best way to overcome this is to just practice and practice till the motion becomes very comfortable. Often if you commit to just one or two backflip attempts, the initial fear will weaken a good deal. As for the first few though, it's like any other new technique. Everyone has their own way of finding the will to overcome the fear. If you do decide to commit to an attempt though, you must follow through with the rest of the motion. DO NOT give up or freak out in mid-air because this is the main cause of injury when learning them.

The Three-Step Program
- Most basic flips have three main positions or poses. If you look at the video you'll notice them; 1. the set, 2. the tuck, 3. and the landing, or opening up. Generally, the better the flip is, the most distinct these positions are. 1. The set is the conclusion of the initial leap and allows your body to continue gaining height before the flip/tuck. Once you begin a tuck or spin you stop traveling upwards because your intertia is diverted. 2. The tuck is what gives you the rotation and should be as quick and tight as possible. 3. Opening up allows you to adjust for a good landing and absorb properly. Be careful not to open too early though.

The Puzzle
- The backflip is like a puzzle. Theres lots of things you have to coordinate and do right, all at the right time. Lets say you focus on jumping straight up, you might forget to tuck. Or if you tuck, you'll forget to swing your arms, or maybe forget to look at the ground. If you do one you'll usually forget about the other but with enough practice all the puzzle pieces will come together and you'll pull it off!

Common Problems:

Head Chucking/Unintentional Layout - Often those learning a backflip will develop the habit of throwing their head back, arching the back, then pulling the feet over. This basically amounts to a back-handspring without the hands. While this technique will get you around, you will almost always land low and it can lead to neck problems in the future. It's just bad form, don't do it.

Not Using Arms -
This problem often goes along with the first I mentioned. It's such a common problem that almost everyone learning the backflip might fall prey to it at some point. In addition to throwing the head back and arching, this person doesn't get their arms all the way up and instead pushes with their chest. Once again this will decrease airtime, control, and lead to problems later. Just say "NO!" to no-arm-backflips!

Not Jumping/Waiting -
This is mainly a fear-related issue that will sometimes resolve itself after becoming more confident in the backflip, but watch for it anyways. Either one isn't jumping as high as they can (try some regular standing jumps and compare) or not waiting in the set position to reach the apex of the jump before tucking. Both will obviously detract from the air-time and thus rotation time of the flip.

Looking at the Ground on Landing -
This one isn't so bad, or difficult to fix. Just a little helpful hint, make sure you let your vision continue rotating back up to that point in front of you (horizon) that you were watching during the set. It's good to spot the ground for the landing, but if you keep your gaze focused on it, it usually leads to under-rotation of the flip.

Unintentional Twisting - This one is quite a nuisance and happens with other flips as well. Simply, this is when one inadvertently twists to one side during the flip and so lands a bit cock-eyed. Since no one wants to be cock-eyed, watch for this one. It's usually another result of the fear because twisting allows you to see the ground sooner and feel more in control, but trust me, you're not. This one is also tough to break because it's more sub-conscious. The best advice I can give is to just keep practicing, maybe try having someone watch your technique or film yourself to see if you're pulling with one arm more, or pushing off with one leg more.


Height - The most common adaptation of the backflip in freerunning is flipping off a higher object such as a wall. I would recommend starting around 3 or 4 feet then work up from there. Naturally you'll want to travel backwards on these unlike a correct standing backflip. To achieve this properly, start standing up straight then when you enter the crouch before leaping, allow yourself to lean back as if you're going to fall onto your back. While it's true that these are "easier" than standing backflips in terms of effort needed, you should learn standing backflips first in order to have better technique and control. In general, the higher the object, the longer time you have to spot the landing and adjust in the air.

Layout - I think this method can add a lot of beauty and fun to this move. A layout is when you backflip without tucking and is usually done from height. A word of caution however, ensure that you're still leaping up before arching back and still using your arms, but you no longer have to keep your eyes focused forward during the set.

Round-off Backflip - This is more a gymnastics/tricking move but is fun and pretty easy anyways. The important thing to remember with this one is to block and keep you arms up. Use you feet to "punch" the ground as they come down from the round-off. When done correctly it should give you additional height than a regular backflip.

Wallflip -
This one is so cool and easy that it'll get its own tutorial.

- Also has it's own tutorial.

Twists - These add more skill to the backflip and are extremely difficult from standing on the ground. I would recommend learning them either on a trampoline, from a round-off, or from height. The main thing to keep in mind is keeping the twisting motion separate from the rotation. Get your arms straight up in the set, THEN pull them down and to one side while looking to initiate the twist. It's very common to see people twisting way too early which throws off their axes.

 Backflip Tutorial Video

TricksTutorials Back tuck Tutorial

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Written by Levi Meeuwenberg   
Monday, 28 May 2007 11:17
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 10:56