“It’s just amazing how CrossFit teaches you this foundation that you could develop into different sports, gymnastics included,” Jason Khalipa says.
Join the 2009 Games champion and coach Carl Paoli, a trainer at San Francisco CrossFit and owner of Naka Athletics, for another look at the backflip. In the video Jason Khalipa Learns the Backflip, Paoli coached Khalipa through his first backflip. Today, Paoli breaks down the movement into progressions:
2. Jump on box
3. Knees through elbows
4. Harness (or shoulder roll)
After the progressions, they discuss how to improve Khalipa’s backflip for power and efficiency. Paoli identifies the Olympic lifts as the most relevant to the backflip. More than “raw strength” lifts like the deadlift and back squat, Olympic lifts translate directly because they are more about speed generated by moving through a full range of motion.
The hollow-body position is crucial.
“I feel like I’m catching a big sandbag, and that’s really hard for me to control,” Paoli says when spotting an athlete without a well-developed hollow position. “Where this improves is during warm-up.”
Paoli continues with progressions on the mats for gyms without the specialized gymnastics equipment, and he demonstrates how to spot an athlete in each progression. Khalipa then uses Paoli’s instruction to coach his own athlete through the progressions.
Additional reading: The Russian’s Gymnastics Warm-Up by Leo Soubbotine, published Nov. 21, 2009.