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Biomechanics of the Back-full

First observation of the Back-full (Pro VS Newbs)

The back-full combines a back-flip and a 360 twist, so what we can observe from a GOOD back-full would be sufficient inversion so that the hip is rotated to a height higher than the head during the flip.

It is challenging to perform the twist with sufficient inversion from the backflip as a back-full with an early twist can result in a back-full with little inversion, whilst a back-full with a late twist can result in under rotation which would make the trick harder to perform or land, hence athletes need to keep working on their take-off and the set of the back-full to gain some kind of control over the trick.


3 stages of the Back-full

The Take Off, The flip, and The Landing

Take Off:

Backflip take-off:

  • Arm swing to encourage shoulder shrug upwards before taking off the ground

  • Shoulder shrug performed a split second before the triple extension of the legs to jump (extending the hips, knees, and ankles, AFTER the shoulder generates the upward force) Look over left shoulder:

  • The only difference in take-off compared to backflip is a slight shoulder turn at the peak of the take-off

  • Looking over the shoulder helps encourage the shoulders to turn in that specific direction.

  • Turning only at the peak ensures that you gain maximum height before performing the flip.

  • Timing of turn is important, turning too early generates a lot of rotation, but no height, turning too late generates a lot of height but not enough rotation. The Flip Shoulders turn towards backside: 

  • Generating the shoulder turn during the take-off ensures that your body will continue turning towards the left as long as you have your core engaged

  • Leading your shoulder with the arms would help to guide your shoulders towards the back side

  • Reach both arms towards the back side before twisting.

  • Facing the backside also allows you to perform a forward shoulder shrug to initiate a flip for the back-full as well as perform the twist. Continue spotting over the left shoulder to complete a 360 twist:

  • As you face the backside from the take-off, you will have completed about 180 degrees of the twist, you will also be able to spot the ground right in front of you

  • Next, you want to let your shoulders continue twisting towards the left to complete 360 degrees of twist, so you should continue to spot over your left shoulder leading the shoulders to turn in the same direction

  • At the same time bring your arms down from the set, squeezing them close to your body, this allows the body to twist better. Heel drive:

  • Driving both heels up into the sky using the glute and hamstring muscles

  • The heel drive generates the flip as you face the backside

  • ALSO, the heel drive should be performed together with the arm wrap to generate a strong coordinative twisting force to complete the 360 twists.

  • The purpose of heel drive is not only to generate flips but also to keep the body in a straight line from head to toe to perform twists in the axis extended through the head to toes. Spot for landing:

  • As you perform the 360 twist in the air, you should be able to spot the ground over the left shoulder

  • Spotting for the ground lets you know how much you have to flip or twist to perform the back-full. (requires experience.)

  • For newer athletes, it could help to learn to spot landmarks to increase awareness in the air. The Landing Look over the left shoulder to spot for landing:

  • After spotting the ground and grasping how your body is positioned in the air, you want to allow your chest to face the ground or the backside.

  • If you were to bring your legs in front of you before the chest faces the ground or backside, you would first slow down the twist not allowing you to complete 360 degrees

  • It would also slow down your flip not allowing you to land, or you might land awkwardly which could cause injuries. Bringing both legs in front of you to land:

  • To land the back-full, you want to perform a toe drive with both feet with the hip flexors

  • This causes the legs to then be positioned right under your body as you come out of the back-full.

  • This also allows you to spot the ground AND your legs at the same time which could lead to a safer landing.

  • Remember to slightly bend your knees and hips, and land on the balls of your feet to reduce impact while landing the back-full.

Strength and conditioning exercises that can help your body get strong enough to do the back-full:

Jumping ability is of course still important in a back-full, hence increasing strength and power in the legs might be a desirable outcome. Specific to this trick, training the "twisting" muscles in the body like the obliques, the abdominal muscles, and the muscles on the back.

  1. Weighted squat jumps: Assuming the athlete progressed far enough to learn the back-full, their relative strength compared to when they have just started out would be higher, making jump training more challenging helps the athlete's body adapt and get stronger.

  2. Box jumps: Box jumps with body weight is still important as the speed in which athletes need to produce force is more important than the total strength they have.

  3. Russian twists: The russian twist focuses on the abdominal, muscles being able to handle rotational forces.

  4. Side leg raises: The side leg raises puts the focus on the obliques which can help the athletes build strength in pulling their hips over their heads when twisting which involves forces in many different directions (front, back, sides) and the core muscles at the sides are not usually trained if athletes do not workout as much.


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