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Moving back tucks
from trampoline to the floor


Hi Coach Wayne.
How are things going? Good here.
Staying pretty busy.
I have a student who is now working on a whip back. I have been doing some research on this and between what I have found and the other coach working for me, I am very confused.
Everything I have read, says it is like a back handspring where you whip your legs over. Some things I have read says it should be a high back handspring with no hands and others say not. As far as the arms, where do they go? I was told today by another coach that the arms never leave their ears and that the whip is actually coming from the arms no the legs.
Could you please clarify this for me. I want to make sure I am teaching my students the correct way to do this.


Hi BJ,
My name is Zuzana Sekerova, www.sekerova.com. I have done whips for about 15 tears of my competitive career. Here are my thoughts:

There are many ways to describe a whip back. I like to compare it to a high back-handspring where the hands do not actually touch the floor. Whip back is used (just like back handspring) to gain power before the next skill comes. It is not terminal skill! So if the power of the whip is diminishing throughout, you’ve got some mistakes happening.

In a back-handspring, once you have momentum out of round-off or previous back-handspring the legs have an easy job. They just push a little bit to keep the momentum going (or accelerate slightly). The arms swing back quickly to reach for the floor.

In a whip back, more power is added to the legs. The body positions look the body stays arched over the top when you’re upside-down, and there is a snap down at the end into a hollow body position so that a next skill can follow. However, in a whip, the legs push off the floor harder than they would for a back handspring because the height of a whip should be about a foot of the ground. This is measured in the up-side-down arched position of the whip; if the arms were overhead just like in the handspring the arms would be about a foot of the floor.

The arms:
The arms are not going to be over the head in the upside-down position like I just talked about above. The above is just a way for you to measure by visualization of the scenario. Here is what the arms actually do. The arms are by the ears coming out of a previous skill such a round-off or back handspring.

The arms whip backward vigorously. This initiates the rotation if the gut and buttocks of the athlete are squeezed. When the arms reach their maximum point of reach behind the ears the body should be by now in a position where the feet are somewhere between 8 and 9 o’clock and the body is arching toward the floor just like in the back handspring. From here there are different techniques for what the arms exactly do…in power tumbling, there is a specific way the arms must move in order not to get deducted for the skill. In cheerleading and gymnastics, the arm position by itself is not judged. What always worked for me was returning the arms toward my thighs by keeping the arms narrow.

The arms would not come all the way down to the thighs though. They’d come down about 60% of the way down and by that time the feet should have passed the vertical and start snapping down and be about the 2 o’clock position. By returning the arms back down the athlete can accelerate the rotation of the flip just like a skater would in pirouettes by pulling the arms in. In the final phase, the arms start going back up to the ears so that they can reach backward into another back handspring, or set for a flip.

I hope this was helpful and answered your questions. But remember, there are different techniques for different gymnastics disciplines and for different tumbling surfaces. For. Ex: power tumblers will keep their body almost completely straight in the whip (not much arch) because their tumbling surface (rod floor) is very bouncy, therefore their whips are higher and arching would make them rotate faster, thus over rotate the skill. A gymnast would arch a bit more and a cheerleader without a spring floor even more so. So focus on the techniques appropriate for your discipline.



Have fun, be safe, push hard.

You may also be interested in the following:
(FLASH player permission is required to view animations.)
Back Tuck Progressions
Benchmarks of Excellence
Cross Arm Spot 
Gymnastics Jump
Jump, Set, Tuck
Lunge to Handstand 
Round-Off Hand Placement
Straight Body Fall


Coach Wayne was the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos, and books have been used by students and instructors worldwide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for tumbling instructor certification training. For booking information, coaches/owners should text or call 912.238.1747.

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