foam pits, backflips and spotters

Someone searched and landed here, looking to find out more about attempting a first backflip. Whats the best option if you want to try it for the first time? If you’re not twelve and with rubber bones and want to try it out, what do you do?

Hit the sand pit?
Swimming pool?

Out of all the options, imo the safest place isn’t any of them. Its with help from your friends. Cause any one of those above options could hurt you, if you do it wrong. Obviously I’d favour something like a foampit, trampoline and / or foam mats first. But even those could lead you to believe you’re ‘safe’ and catch you out. If I was advising anyone where to start, I’d say a foam pit or trampoline with a friend or assistance from someone (preferably with flipping/spotting experience) from the gym to help out.

What’s this ‘spotting’ stuff?
(I thought I’d throw this in, because not everyone knows what it is and it isn’t on Wikipedia.)
A spotter is someone that ‘spots’ if you get into trouble and need help. With flips they can watch and guide your rotation to give you either more height, more rotation and / or help prevent you landing on your head.

Can anyone ‘spot’?
yes. But you’ll need to know what to do! (next question)

What do they do exactly?
I guess it depends what you’re trying, but for a standing back tuck, they stand to the side of the ‘flipper’, placing one hand on the lower back and the other hand on the back of the leg between the hip and knee. The back of the leg hand aids rotation and the back hand aids with height. I’ve seen some dumb spotters that haven’t got a clue what to do and not actually assist in anyway at all. This is bad. Bad for you if you’re the one flipping. If you’re getting someone new to ‘spot’ for the first time. Tell them that they need to help lift you up with their hand on your back, and tell them that they need to push your legs up and round to assist with the rotation. Backflips look effortless to bystanders, and ‘newbie’ spotters, won’t understand how much strength it takes to ensure that an average weight 15+ young / adult gets enough height and spin comfortably in the air. If you’ve never backflipped before, you need to know that this person has the strength and knowledge to really help, rather than to give the illusion that they can help.  

Who won’t make a good spotter?
A midget, your gran, your dog, your little sister, your little brother, your mates that have a body mass lower than you, anyone that recoils in fear at the slightest sign of danger (eg: people that fear balloons popping), anyone with a waistline larger than their inside leg and wears ‘no fear’ t-shirts etc

Who will make a good spotter?
Someone that can already do a backflip, has enough strength to pick you up, can drop and do 20 pressups without breaking into a sweat, walks like they’re holding oranges under their armpits etc

More often than not a spotter gives confidence to try something. However if you have a spotter and you’re still scared to try a backflip, don’t do it. Build up to it. Maybe with supported back flicks (on to your hands) first in the foam pit with mats placed to give you some stability. If you’re an adult, 2 spotters may be needed, to guide you over and give you confidence. Once confortable you’ll be fine to try with one spotter, and eventually no spotters. This ‘hands down’ protection of the head, will set you up for attempting a backflip.

Of the people I’ve seen that try it and fail, they seem to lack a good explosive jump from their legs. You’ll need to build up your leg muscles, by either / and / or running, cycling, skating, rebound / straight / tuck jumps, also get those stomach muscles working, they help you too.

If you attempt and fail, question yourself and ask others about what went wrong, don’t try another one without knowing what to do differently with the next attempt. If your second attempt is exactly the same, you’ve either not tried hard enough (again) or you haven’t identified what went wrong in the first place. Each one should be easier and get closer to landing. If your second attempt is worse than your first attempt, then stop. Go back to flicks in the pit until you’re feeling good to go again.

someone smarter than me, said you shouldn’t try a move that you haven’t nearly done already. In English it means, every hard move has a slightly easier move to learn before it. If anything is scary, then you’re probably not ready to try that yet, and if you do, then at least be prepared for what would happen if something went wrong.

A mate of mine broke his femur alone, and had to drag himself 30ft to reach his phone to call an ambulance.

ok, I’m done. This has been a public service announcement.



Filed under Tricking

4 responses to “foam pits, backflips and spotters

  1. Andreas

    this really helps. i didnt know wad a spotter was at first -.-

  2. yeah me neither, I heard the term loads but didn’t have a clue what they were for how they could save me from landing on my head!

  3. spudoi 69

    i like chicken

  4. LGrimes

    Perfect!! From an aging ex-gymnast.. you nailed the technique, pre-requisites, and spotter requirements exactly.

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