Introduction: How To: Standing Backflip
Learning to do a standing backflip can be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience for an aspiring gymnast, professional athlete, or anyone daring and committed enough to learn it. Being able to do a backflip wherever and whenever you want is sure to catch the attention of people around you, and is a great trick to add to a routine you've been trying to spice up. Executing a proper backflip - and landing it - is also an effective way to instantly prove to someone just how cool you are.
(DISCLAIMER: By no means would I consider myself a professional at anything listed in this article. Backflips are very dangerous and there is a risk of severe injury. Attempt at your own risk)
Step 1: Get Stronger
Doing a backflip is a very strenuous activity. You will need to exert a large amount of force from your legs and arms very quickly in order to launch into the air, complete a full rotation with your body, and land back on your feet. While you don't need to be a weightlifting champion to do a backflip, it's recommended that you strengthen your core, legs, and arms before attempting a flip. A good exercise to train is deadlifts. Deadlifts recruit a lot of the same muscles as jumping, and can help you increase your force output.
Step 2: Vertical Jump
Having a strong vertical jump is key to successfully performing a backflip. You want to be able to gain enough height to complete a full rotation and extend your legs before hitting the ground.
Start by squatting down with your arms extended behind you. You don't need to go as low as you would in a normal squat - thighs at a 45 degree angle is fine. In one swift motion, swing your arms straight up while extending your legs. Point your toes into the ground as you are starting to lift off to achieve maximum height. Focus on letting the momentum of your arms help carry you up into the air.
Practice your vertical jump until you feel confident with how high you can get. Keep practicing as you complete the next steps, you will need to have a good vertical jump when the time comes to make your first attempt.
Step 3: Back Bend
Ideally, you would already know how to do a back bend before trying to learn a backflip. However, if you aren't confident with doing a back bend it can be a good place to start. Back bends will help you gain some confidence bending over backwards and being upside down. Learning a back bend will also build the foundation for the next step, learning a back handspring.
Arch your back and tilt your head back. Raise your arms over your head and continue to extend them backwards as far as you can. Keep your palms facing out, away from your body. With your feet firmly planted, start bending your knees and lowering your head until you see the ground. With your back still arched and your head tilted back, plant your hands on the ground.
Make sure you do plenty of stretches before attempting a backbend. It's also a good idea to work on your flexibility before completing this step.
Step 4: Back Handspring
Once you feel confident with a back bend, it is time to learn a back handspring. You can think of a back handspring as a combination of a backflip and a back bend. The motion is similar to a backflip, but you don't need to fully rotate since you have your hands to catch you.
Start by going into the same initial position you would for a vertical jump. Squat down until your thighs are at a 45 degree angle and your arms are extended behind you. Combine the movements of a vertical jump and a back bend into one motion. Extend your legs and swing your arms up above your head. Instead of using the momentum of your arms to carry you straight up, keep swinging them until they are just behind your head, while arching your back at the same time. Tilt your head back and spot the landing with your hands. Plant your hands into the ground and using your core and the momentum of your legs, finish rotating until you land back on your feet.
Practice a back handspring on a trampoline or with a spotter until you are comfortable doing it on your own. It's a good idea to practice on a gymnastics mat or grassy area, where some of the impact to your hands and feet can be absorbed by the surface. Keep practicing until you can perform a back handspring easily on any surface.
Step 5: Backflip on a Trampoline
It's important to learn proper form for a backflip on a trampoline or crash pad before attempting it on the ground. On a trampoline or pad, the consequences of falling may not be as severe.
Practice doing back handsprings on a trampoline or pad with slight variation. Instead of doing a standing back handspring, try jumping before you initiate it so you can get more height and a faster rotation. With more rotation, try doing a back handspring but refrain from catching yourself with your hands. Instead, keep rotating until you land on your knees. Congratulations, you just did a backflip!
Keep practicing landing on your knees until you can get enough rotation to try and land on your feet. Spot the landing as you rotate and extend your legs at just the right time to land a backflip.
Step 6: Back Tuck
In the last step, you should have learned how to execute a backflip without the help of your hands. Ideally, you will want to be able to land a simple backflip on your feet before moving on.
In this step you will learn how to do a back tuck. The main difference between a regular backflip and a back tuck is how you achieve rotation. In a regular backflip, it is much like a back handspring where you achieve rotation by throwing your head and arms back, and arching your back. In a back tuck, you are still using your head and your arms, but instead you achieve even more height and rotation by pulling your knees up to your chest and "tucking" them with your arms.
On a trampoline or pad, practice doing a backflip but try pulling your knees as close to your chest as possible. It's easier to keep your knees tucked if you grab your knees with your hands and hold them. Keep practicing until you can grab your knees fairly easily in the air.
Now you will want to practice getting maximum height for your back tuck. Practice doing the vertical jump again on a trampoline or crash pad. Combine the vertical jump with a back tuck. At the maximum height of the vertical jump, pull your knees as tightly to your chest as you can, and you will rotate much faster and higher than a regular backflip. When you spot your landing, release your tuck and extend your legs to land on your feet.
Practice doing a back tuck getting as much height and rotation as you can until you are confident and you can complete a full rotation with airtime to spare. This step is crucial to getting enough rotation to be able to do a standing backflip on the ground.
Step 7: Standing Back Tuck
You will want to have a good back tuck with plenty of airtime before moving on to this step.
Practice doing a back tuck with the same technique as the last step with some variation. Instead of jumping on a trampoline or pad before doing the flip, try standing on the trampoline and then doing a back tuck.
Practice this until you can easily land on your feet from a standstill. Once you are confident doing a standing back tuck on a trampoline, try getting the maximum rotation from a tuck. Do a normal back tuck, except keep your knees tucked past the point when you would normally open up to land. Instead, keep them tucked and over-rotate until you can untuck and land on your back.
Practice this variation of a tuck a few times while jumping, then attempt it while standing. Keep practicing doing a standing backflip but landing on your back until it becomes easy to do so. This will help you create the rotation needed to land a backflip on the ground, as well as helping you overcome the urge to untuck as soon as you can.
Step 8: Back Tuck on the Ground: First Attempt
It's almost time to attempt a standing back tuck! At this point, you should know proper back tuck form for achieving maximum height and rotation. This is crucial to know before attempting a back flip on solid ground to prevent you from landing on your head.
You will want to find a soft mat or grassy area to make your first attempt. It is recommended that you have a friend or coach spot you, or at least be nearby in the event something goes wrong. It can be easier to get a full rotation if you attempt your backflip on a slight slope, facing uphill.
Warm up by stretching and doing a couple of vertical jumps. When you feel confident and ready, bend your knees and get ready to initiate the flip. Avoid the urge to start rotating or tucking as soon as you leave the ground. Instead, once you have reached maximum height, aggressively pull your knees to your chest in order to get a fast rotation. Stay as tucked as possible until you see the ground and you can spot your landing. Open up the tuck and prepare to land. The first few times you will most likely land on your knees.
Step 9: Landing a Standing Backflip
Keep practicing on soft grass, slight incline, or mat landing on your knees. Stay tucked as long as you can, getting as much height and rotation possible. Keep practicing until you can land on your feet in a squatting position. Eventually, you will build the muscle memory and strength necessary to be able to land standing on your feet.
Step 10: Show Off to Everyone You Can
Impress all your friends and family instantly by showing off your cool new skill.