How to a Whip Back in Gymnastics

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Some stunts in gymnastics are more fun to perform than others. The whip back is one of them. Although rarely seen in upper level competition, the whip back is common in demonstrations and cheerleading tumbling runs. A spectator favorite, the whip back is fairly easy to learn.

  • Start with the proper tumbling surface. An approved gymnastic spring floor is the best choice but mats are permissible if you are already secure in performing a back handspring. Cheerleaders should learn the whip back on a mat before doing it on a hard gym floor.

  • Begin your tumbling run with a roundoff, back handspring. The whip back is simply a high back handspring with no hands. The key here is to know how to do a back handspring before you attempt a whip back. If your back handspring is sloppy or slow, you’re not ready.

  • Hurdle long and low to build speed going into your roundoff. Perform a fast handspring with a little lift. Your first attempts will probably result in your hands belatedly touching the floor. That’s fine.

  • Continue to practice the stunt, allowing yourself a little more height each time until your hands are only skimming the mat. When you’re comfortable with the stunt and you can begin lifting your arms as you rebound and quickly returning them to your sides to complete the “whip” portion.

  • String two or more whip backs together in a tumbling run to impress spectators. Ask your coach if you can include one in an optional level floor routine. Some coaches will allow a gymnast to perform a whip back while other coaches are adamantly opposed to the stunt, claiming it will “ruin” the gymnast’s tumbling style.

Tips & Warnings

  • Although the whip back is often a self-taught stunt, all tumbling is dangerous and proper coaching and spotting techniques are necessary. Spotting for the whip back is the same as spotting for the back handspring and back layout with the spotter on either side, supporting the upper back to prevent the gymnast from landing on her back, neck or head.
  • <br>Don’t attempt the whip back until you are very comfortable doing a roundoff back handspring and can generate speed and power in your backwards tumbling runs.

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