How to do a backflip in bodyboarding

Backflip: no one does it like Pierre-Louis Costes | Photo: D'Andrea/APB

The backflip is one of the most advanced maneuvers in bodyboarding. The trick is hard to pull, but there's nothing a lot of training and failed attempts won't solve.

Backflips are a quite popular trick in sports. You will find them in BMX, skateboarding, gymnastics, motorcycling, snowboarding, windsurfing, and even surfing. A backflip is a backward rolling motion, in which your body completes a 360-degree curve backward.

You can't say it is a natural human movement. Our bodies are not designed for long-term upside down experiences, so our brains usually play tricks on us. "Don't do that. You'll hurt yourself," they often silently shout.

Therefore, jumping backward isn't easy. It requires a lot of training and mental preparation. In bodyboarding, successfully completed backflips depend on three main variables: timing, projection and jump height/air time.

You can rapidly accelerate learning and/or improve your backflip technique if you have access to a trampoline. Start with a simple backdrop, evolve to a sideways handspring, and finally go for a back handspring before trying the classic backflip.

Backflip: cross your legs and hold the board tight | Photo: D'Andrea/APB

Now, let's learn how to land a backflip in bodyboarding's natural environment, i.e., salted water:

1. Find a wave with a solid section;
2. Lean forward to generate and maximize speed;
3. Eye a punchy lip or a near-vertical section;
4. Hit the lip before it breaks;
5. Launch into the air and lean your head back;
6. Use your weight to throw yourself out in front of the wave;
7. Arch your back;
8. Lean your head back and tuck/cross your legs;
9. Hold the board tight and get the nose in the water first;
10. Keep your weight centered;
11. Look where you want to go, spin, and ride away.

Bigger waves will give you more speed and upward projection. After landing your first backflip, try the no-hands version popularized by the master himself, Pierre-Louis Costes.