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Somersault Animation

A somersault (obsolete French word sombresault, Occitan sobresaut; and Latin - supra, over, and saltus, jump, and in gymnastics a Salto) is an acrobatic exercise in which a person's body revolves 360° with feet passing over the head. A somersault can be performed either forwards, backwards, or sideways and can be executed in the air or on the ground. When performed on the ground it is normally called a roll.

Types of somersault[edit]

Front somersault in the pike position

There are many variations of front and back somersaults. Somersaults can be performed in multiples, or multiples of quarter body revolutions, in some cases with additional twist rotations or ending in body landings, producing variations such as:

  • Crash dive (3/4 front somersault to back landing)
  • Lazy back (3/4 back somersault to front landing)
  • Ballout (114 front somersault to feet from back landing)
  • Cody (114 back somersault to feet from front landing)
  • Barani (front somersault with 1/2 twist)
  • Rudolph (or Rudi) (front somersault with 112 twists)
  • Randolph (or Randi) (front somersault with 212 twists)
  • Adolf (or Adi) (front somersault with 312 twists)
  • Full back or frontfull (back somersault or front somersault with 1 twist) less common with single fronts
  • Double (double front or back somersault)
  • Double full (back somersault with 2 twists)
  • Half out (double front somersault with 1/2 twist in the second somersault)
  • Back in - full out (double back somersault with 1 twist in the second somersault)


The names and nomenclature used for somersaults varies among different sports and activities, as well as regionally. In competitive gymnastics and trampolining, standardized names have been assigned to all common variations, which may be performed in tucked, piked, or straight body orientations. Within British gymnastic associations, a crash dive is referred to as a 3/4 front somersault (straight). Similarly, a Barani Ballout is referred to as a Ballout Barani to indicate that the forward somersault is executed before the twist.

The word flip is synonymous with an airborne somersault in a number of countries including the USA.[1][not in citation given] In contrast, in Britain and some other countries, a flip must rely on the arms to induce body revolution, and the body need not be completely airborne (hands may contact the floor).[citation needed]

The word somerset was also used in Victorian England to describe what today is called a somersault. For example, an 1843 poster advertising Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal boasts, "Mr. HENDERSON will undertake the arduous Task of THROWING TWENTY-ONE SOMERSETS, ON THE SOLID GROUND.

See also[edit]