Learn to Flip
Welcome to the new FTA Training Program for Freestyle or Traditional Flippers
Degree #1: The Long. Run
When you begin your physical training program remember that building skills takes time. I trained for over 15,000 hours developing my physical body and mental state of mind, even more so than my actual acrobatic skills. Remember that when you start venturing down your rotational pathway. As mentioned, start your conditioning program TODAY! Do not wait until tomorrow; tomorrow never comes. Realize that the process can be slow at times and bad days will happen, so simply stick to the building process and do not be scared to take steps backwards if it does not feel right. Remember, the brain has to understand it as well, so you need to give it time to ‘digest’ the building blocks and new progressions. Take your time and do not get frustrated if you can’t ‘figure it out’ in just a few minutes. Professional Trampoline athletes build their careers over many years before they ‘perfect’ even the simplest skills. It will take you many years as well, so enjoy the adventure and don’t just try to rush to the end. The real joy in acrobatics is the process of learning, NOT the end result.
Degree #2: Set Up Your Equipment
Learn how to make your own throw mat; a safety item that is very important when you are learning any new skill, at any level. Our Freestyle athletes always use a proper throw mat at FTA events. but you can make your own for at home use, if you cannot obtain a professional one. Do not just run to your trampoline with your phone out and start throwing yourself around. Take a moment at the start of every training to check your equipment and set up some mats. If you are a G-Tramper you can make your own mat like in the video below. If you are able to get to a training facility we recommend that as an alternative but either way make sure that you have your springs and frames covered. You never know where your body will end up during training! If you are on a G-Tramp you can use pillows and cushions, placing them around the trampoline. It is better than nothing. We do not recommend taking the pads off even though it is common in the G-Tramp community. Have your throw mat ready and a friend standing by, paying attention. Your adventure down your rotational pathway will be short lived if you injure yourself, so set yourself up for success right from the beginning.
Degree #3: THE STOP Bounce!
The very first thing any trampolinist needs to know is how NOT to bounce! I know this sounds counter intuitive but in reality anyone can simply fumble their way onto a trampoline and fall down after a few bounces. Specifically learning how to jump with mechanical precision is not a necessity for basic skills. Stopping yourself from flying off the trampoline when you get out of control is! Practice stopping yourself from getting hurt before you start trying to gain more height. It actually takes more leg muscles than you think. You do not want to find that out after a first attempt at a new skill!
Degree #4: How To Bounce
Once you have learned basic bouncing and practiced stopping from different angles and different heights you can start actually thinking about how to focus on the mechanics of bouncing properly. It is not something that is necessary to a Freestyle athlete who needs to be in control but is not looking for 0.1 degree of extra height. A traditional coach will emphasize pre-bounces right from the beginning but remember, it is not actually a true safety concept. To be safe, you actually want to keep the arms out which will give you a wider base and make it easier to balance when in the air. As you progress over the years you will naturally have more control and be able to execute ‘proper’ pre-bounces. It is a good skill to learn control but not mandatory to be a great trampolinist. After playing with the pre-bounces, which I am sure will not last too long, you can start getting to body movements. These are always easier to learn than actual rotations. Try to wait until you are completely in the air (“Top of the Bounce”) before trying to do a position such as a Tuck Jump or Straddle Jump. Play with these different positions and try to create your own. The inventing process has already begun now that you are hopefully stable in the air and able to start creating your own style. The one thing to remember is that if you get into the position too early, it will throw you off and will cause you to travel around the trampoline.
Degree #5: Swivel Hips
This will be your first ‘skill’ is some sense. It is important to note that from a biological perspective, all the different movements you have done up to this point still count as ‘learned skills.’ As you go through this skill remember that even though we are doing half turns, you can break down the skill into 1o at a time if you need to. If you are falling down and struggling, simply take smaller degrees. Remember that each degree can be broken into fractions as well, so if you feel ‘stuck’ take your time and build it up Degree-By-Degree. A rule of thumb is that if you get stuck, take the previous step and cut it in half. If you are stuck you are simply taking steps that are too big for your brain to understand and map out.
Degree #6: Hands & Knees Drop
This skill is quite easy and you will not need to spend too much time with it. It is important for developing bigger skills in the future so it is a basic landing position you will want to be familiar with. This skill is also the beginning step to Stomach Drop, as you will see in Degree #8. Explore with it by bouncing in different directions into the Hands and Knees Drop but keep it low and do not lock your elbows. Be tight when landing and you should be able to move around easily up to feet and back down while turning in different directions.
Degree #7: Back Drop
The Back Drop will be the first building block to a full back flip. Start by laying down on the trampoline and ‘feeling’ the proper position. Just throwing yourself to the trampoline will generally get the job done as well but it will increase the chance that you are not landing flat, which will cause issues later on with different skills bouncing off the back into more complex skills. For younger Flippers it will also risk whiplash on the neck so make sure you have your head back against the trampoline. Take the time to get comfortable on your back by bouncing onto your back from different angles and feeling the movement of your body as you approach the Back Drop from different angles. Do not just ‘go crazy’ yet but experiment a bit and you will start to see how your body will naturally react to bouncing at different angles that your body will remember as you progress to other landing positions.
Watch the videos above and read the material below for a full overview of the FTA Certification. Fill out the FTA exams level 1,2 and 3 to receive a FREE FTA shirt and Certificate Of Completion