The backflip is a whore. It's appealing until you find out how easy it is to take advantage of. And if you're dilligent, the whole “taking advantage of” thing won't take longer than thirty minutes of solid practice.
You don't need a massive vertical jump. You don't need freak strength. You just need technical knowledge, friends, and cojones.
So take some action. Your path to superhuman awaits.
Before you think about flipping end over end, have a mental plan. Know the technical aspects of the backflip. Study this tutorial from Jujimufu. Understand the move from every angle possible.
It isn't about jumping backwards, I can tell you that. Don't do that unless you're looking for a disability check in the mail.
Memorize the technique and visualize yourself performing it perfectly. Onward.
Find two able body friends. Disinterested Mothers and Fathers aren't ideal. Not only aren't they the strongest candidates, but they also aren't big fans of perceived potential neck breaking activities. (Even though the backflip is rather safe, especially when using this technique.)
So get two people that are strong enough to carry you. And then teach them how to backflip. Force them to read the tutorial. Discuss it over coffee. They are your safe net. It's your responsibility to get people you know and trust to help you do this safely.
With backflips, there are no prerequisite fear abolishers. It's kind of a “just do it” move.
Using a spotter is a great idea. But even then, you still have to muster the courage to chuck the flip. Luckily, I have a fool proof method that will have you flipping within a half hour using your two volunteer friends. They take away the fear, which is why this technique is so effective.
Have a spotter on each side—one to the left, one to the right. Have them put one hand on your lower back and the other on your hamstrings. From here, have them lift you up so that your legs don't touch the ground. (It looks like you’re sitting in a chair.)
None of your body is touching the ground, which why you need strong spotters.
Extend your hands over your head. Have the spotters lean your body back so that your hands touch the ground, and once they do, tell them to throw your legs over your head.
This is an extremely spotted back handspring — not ideal, but it gets you familiar with the feeling of going backwards.
Repeat this step until you're comfortable with the process — it shouldn't feel “scary.”
Add a small dip and jump to the processes of Step One.
Have the spotters latched onto your lower back and hamstrings at all times. But instead of having them lift and toss you, provide a little leg push from the ground as you extend your arms up and over your head.
The spotters still end up supporting you in mid air and tossing your legs over your head.
Keep your arms extended above your head during the entire movement to support against the ground if needed.
Step three is the same as two, except with more leg drive.
Instead of keeping the arms extended above your head, swing them down and up with your jump. (Last step was all leg push, this step integrates arms into the jump.)
Again, spotters cradle the entire movement and essentially “hold” you. There's no need for fear.
Because you're using more leg drive, you'll get more height. Stop putting your hands on the ground during this step. So after they swing up for the jump, keep them near your head for personal peace of mind. But after realizing you're no where near landing on your head, try to make the movement smoother.
Abandoning the arms teaches you to jump up and not back. Using the hands at first is fine for the fear. But the backflip is a jump up in the air. So getting into the jump back habit isn't good. The earlier you ditch it, the better off you are.
More jump and more arm swing. Focus on jumping up and actively tucking your legs to your chest on the flip. Don’t use, or even think about using, your hands for support. Don’t use them for “protection.”
If your spotters made it this far, you're not going to land on your head. They still cradle the entire movement.
Swing your arms down, swing them back up, jump up, and tuck our knees to your chest.
The spotters remain, but their role decreases. They still support your lower back and hamstrings, but they should only flip your legs over your head after you initiate the jump and flip.
You really want to focus on doing the flip yourself.
Dip, swing your arms down (warn your spotters that you'll likely hit their arms), and jump in the air. You should be landing your flip, and your friends should be helping less and less with every go.
From a physical standpoint, your spotters are ghosts. Their arms are only contacting your body to give you a mental edge. They are spotting still, yes, but only if you decide to bail mid-flip.
Groove some backflips. When you stick them consistently, have your spotters remove the constant contact on your hamstrings. The lower back support stays.
Your spotters should help flip your legs over if needed, but the goal of this stage is to remove one of the physical contacts.
Remove one spotter.
The remaining spotter keeps a hand on your lower back throughout the movement. The other spotter will be there, but with no body contact, helping only if needed.
Both spotters will spot, but neither has pre-takeoff contact with your body.
Remove one spotter completely. Keep the other on whichever side is most comfortable without pre-takeoff contact.
Remove both spotters.
You are now free.
There's something comforting and calming when both your lower back and hamstrings are supported with a spotter. It's a safety net that mentally signifies someone being there to catch you. And with two people, it makes it much safer.
And if that isn't convincing enough, here's a silly video of myself from years ago landing one of my first backflips:
So what do YOU say? Are you going to try it? Do you have the friends? The cojones?
Are you going to take one step closer to superhuman?
I'd love to hear what you think, so drop some questions below.
Photo Credit: Mitch Lee of Fresh Fox Apparel