Head Down to Head Up Back Flip


As one of the methods of returning to a head up flying position from a neutral head down stance, a head down to head up back-flip, the more tricky and less used transition is a maneuver that requires the skill and confidence to complete successfully. The techniques described here will assist in your understanding of how to complete this maneuver correctly, safely and successfully.

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Unlike the cartwheel transition, learning the head-to-sit backflip usually is not taught at the same time that another transition is being taught. The main reason is that this maneuver has more challenges and requires 100% focus to complete it successfully without creating an unsafe situation. It is not recommended to attempt this maneuver without a clear plan and briefing by your tunnel instructor.

Prior to learning this transition, ensure that you have discussed the plan with your instructor about the set up and completing the maneuver. You will need to demonstrate that you are a stable head-down flyer and that you can also complete at least these head-down flight moves:

  • Forward and backward
  • Up and down
  • Left and right turns
  • Head-to-sit front flip and cartwheel


The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully transition from a neutral head-down position off the net, through a backward rotating maneuver, to a neutral sit-flying position, finishing at the same altitude and on the same heading as when you started.


You will likely set yourself up for this maneuver by being slightly forward from the center of the tunnel. This will allow more space behind you for clearance for your head to transition up. This will provide you with an extra safeguard if any backward movement is present through the transition. Some other methods can be used to teach this skill, including: starting with a slight forward drive and then initiating the move or starting slightly higher in the tunnel and beginning a small downward move before initiating the rotation. Either is acceptable. Be sure to discuss an exact plan with your instructor prior to beginning this skill.

Technique and Drills


  • Begin in the center of the tunnel in a neutral head-down flying position approximately 6-8 feet above the net
  • Initiate the rotation by completing three inputs simultaneously. These inputs are: relaxing your arms down slightly toward your sides, rotating your head back, and tucking your knees forward toward your chest
  • As you become upright, you will stop the rotation in a neutral sit-flying position

Post-flight questions / suggestions

  • How did your performance match the initial objectives?
  • Were you able to complete the transition and maintain the same front/back heading and altitude as when you started?
  • What techniques did you feel comfortable with and what can you improve on during the next session?
  • Are you able to complete the transition without generating any forward or backward movement?

What Skill is Next?

Begin able to transition from head-down flight to your sit-flying position via any of the transitions will make you a well-rounded flyer. No matter what the move might be, having different options to be able to accomplish the same goal will be key.

At this point you should be comfortable completing all of the head-to-sit transitions, and next you will move on to learning the head-to-head transitions.

© 2005 - 2023 International Bodyflight Association™

The IBA distinguishes between the sport of indoor skydiving (engaged in by patrons with IBA accounts seeking approval of flight skills though the IBA's Flight Progression System) and recreational flying (engaged in by entertainment customers who do not intend to pursue approval of skills). While indoor skydiving is safe for all ages, the inherent risk of the activity is necessarily greater for those engaging in the sport of indoor skydiving, particularly as they progress through more sophisticated maneuvers.