A somersault (also flip, heli, and in gymnastics salto) is an acrobatic exercise in which a person's body rotates 360° around a horizontal axis with the feet passing over the head.[1] A somersault can be performed forwards, backwards or sideways and can be executed in the air or on the ground. When performed on the ground, it is typically called a roll.

Front tucked somersault animation


Front somersault in the pike position
Back somersault on one foot

Body positionsEdit

Somersault may be performed with different positions, including tucked, piked (bent at the hips), straddled, and layout (straight body).[citation needed]


The sport of tumbling does not require participants to combine both front and back elements, and most tumblers prefer back tumbling as it is easier to build momentum.[2]

Arabian saltos begin backwards, continue with a half twist to forwards, and end with one or more saltos forwards. They can be trained by beginning with an Arabian dive roll and adding a front salto to it.[3] They are counted as front tumbling in women's artistic gymnastics[4] and back tumbling in men's artistic gymnastics.[5]


Somersaults are often completed with twists.[6]

Multiple rotationsEdit

By 2003, the tucked double back salto had become common in women's gymnastics.[6] The triple back salto exists in men's gymnastics but was rarely competed until 2017.[7]

In 2019, American gymnast Simone Biles was the first woman to compete a back triple double: two saltos backwards with three twists in a tucked position.[8][9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Gymnastics 101: Glossary of Terms". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  2. ^ Jones, Henrique; Martinez, José (2022). "Running in Tumbling". The Running Athlete: A Comprehensive Overview of Running in Different Sports. Springer. pp. 151–152. ISBN 978-3-662-65064-6.
  3. ^ Brown, James Rollar; Wardell, David B. (1980). Teaching and Coaching Gymnastics for Men and Women. Wiley. pp. 400–401. ISBN 978-0-471-10798-9.
  4. ^ WAG COP 2022-2024 Section 7 Page 1
  5. ^ MAG COP 2022-2024, p. 39
  6. ^ a b Scientific Aspects of Women's Gymnastics. Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers. 2003. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-3-8055-7476-1.
  7. ^ "The Return Of The Triple Back Somersault In Men's Gymnastics". Deadspin. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  8. ^ "The hardest floor skill yet to be performed? Jade Carey's triple-double". On Her Turf. 24 June 2021. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  9. ^ Allain, Rhett. "The Twisty Physics of Simone Biles' Historic Triple-Double". Wired. Retrieved 25 October 2022.