How to Do a Back Flip in Diving

At first glance, a back flip off the diving board may seem difficult. In actuality, the dive is fairly easy to learn. However, just as with all skills in diving, it is important to perform it correctly so you don’t hit the board, or land on your stomach or back.

Below are five steps that will help you safely perform a back flip off the 1-meter springboard.


It is important to realize that learning to do a back flip the correct way off the board will take time. Make sure you are prepared and ready to execute this dive before you try it. Here are some ways to know if you are ready:

  • You have a qualified coach guiding you. This cannot be stressed enough. A qualified coach is essential before trying any new dive off the board.
  • You can do a back dive off the 1-meter springboard.
  • You understand the basics of diving: Forward hurdle, back approach, and entry.

Once you know you are ready, it is time to start.

Step 1: Back Press

As with all backward approaching dives, the dive starts with a back press. Stand on the 1-meter springboard and follow these directions:

  • Stand backwards on the tip of the diving board with your heels hanging off, and your arms down by the side of your body.
  • Make sure your body is in a vertical line with your shoulders over your hips.
  • Keep your head neutral and start rocking the board.
  • Raise your arms above your head. Keep your arms straight, and then quickly rotate them slightly behind your body.
  • As you initiate the rotation of your arms, bend your legs and prepare for the jump off the board.

Hot Tip: Proper Head & Hip Position

A common error when first trying this dive is to thrust your hips forward and throw your head back as you exit the board. The problem with this is two-fold:

  1. It pulls you into the board increasing the chance for hitting
  2. It cuts off the height of the dive, giving you less time to complete it.

A small jump back away from the board, as well as the proper head and arm positioning on takeoff, will ensure a safe distance from the board and satisfactory rotation needed to complete the dive.

Step 2: Jump

The jump is an important part of the back flip. The jump is where you will get your height for the dive, the rotation you need to start the dive, and the proper distance you need to complete the dive safely.

When your arms are swinging behind your body in the back press, bend your legs deeply and get ready to jump up and away from the board.

  • The arm swing in the press is forceful. The momentum of your arm circle will provide the dive with the rotation it needs to start the flip.
  • Keep your head in line with your arms.
  • Jump up and slightly out away from the board.
  • In the air, your feet point towards the board and your body is at a backward angle.

Step 3: Back Flip

Now comes the fun part! After you have performed a good jump off the board, you need to bring your knees up to your head and start your rotation. Here’s how:

  • In the air, your arms should be straight above your head and close to your ears.
  • Your legs should be at an angle in the air, pointing towards the diving board. Try to think of your legs chasing your head and arms.
  • In the air, your arms should rotate quickly in a small half-circle behind your body. The circling of your arms in the air increases the momentum of the rotation.
  • Once you circle your arms, bend your legs into a tuck position and grab hold of your shins.

Step 4: Position in the Air

Once in the air, your body should be in a tight tuck position. Your legs should be bent, your knees together, your arms bent, and your elbows close to your body.

In the somersault, make sure to keep your eyes open. The dive happens very quickly and you may not be able to recognize objects while in the air. It is very likely you will see a blur of blue sky, followed by a close-up of your knees. Keep your eyes open so you can see the board and come out of the somersault at the correct time.

Hot Tip: Ask For a Call

When first learning the dive, ask your coach to give you a call. A call is a verbal command your coach will give you when it is time to exit a dive. When you hear his/her voice, come out of the dive and prepare to enter the water.

Step 5: Come Out

Once your body is finishing the rotation of the somersault, you should see the diving board.

  • When you see the board, fold out of your tuck position with your legs aiming towards the water and slightly in front of you.
  • Punch your feet into the water on a slight angle, so your body continues the rotation you started.
  • Place your arms by the sides of your body as you enter the water.

Take a good look at the diving board as you enter the water. This is a great first step to learning how to spot in the dive. Spotting will prepare you to advance this skill into a back 1 ½.

Advancing the Skill

If you learn this dive correctly, you will quickly be able to advance this flip into the pike and layout positions, and even add more somersaults onto the end.

Remember: Back flips are fun, but you need to perform them correctly in order to be safe. Just follow the steps above, with a coach by your side, and have fun flipping off the 1-meter springboard.

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