On a trampoline, a back pullover entails bouncing from your feet to your back, then rotating from your back to your feet. Essentially it’s like a backward roll, but with a little spring to it.
If you land low enough on your back and stay tight, the trampoline essentially does the work of bouncing you over yourself so you can pop your feet out at the end and land on your feet.
If you land too high on your back you won’t get over. If you don’t stay tight with your head tucked in you can get whip lash. If you try to open too early you’ll slow your rotation, which makes it harder to get around.
Back pullovers scare me. I really don’t like to work on them. Which is why I need to practice them more. I practice them in safety lines so that my coach can assist if necessary. It’s still kind of scary.
I can feel my body often holding tension as I set up to bounce to my back. Landing in the sweet spot can be elusive. And then there’s my tendency to throw my head back as if to see where I’m going, which doesn’t help and could hurt.
The blind nature of this skill — the fact that you can’t see where you’re going — is part of what makes it scary.
Other students tend to feel similar fear in a plain back drop, even without the rotation.
The Opposite of Our Conditioning
It’s human nature to want to see where we are going. This is how we are conditioned from the time we begin crawling:
Move forward, look at where you’re going, follow the trajectory of your vision.
Learning back pullovers is training in the opposite direction: move backward and keep your focus internal; don’t try to look where you’re going. If you try to look you’ll get hurt.
So I bounce and land on my back, keeping my knees pulled in toward my chest, my chin tucked, and my gaze focused on my knees.
It’s the opposite of every instinct in my body, but it works. When I land on that sweet spot at the lowest part of my back, magic happens: my legs come over my head as I rotate, and I bounce over to my feet, coming to standing.
The Real Skill
The real skill I’m developing here is trust.
In life we may be moving forward but we can’t always see where we’re going. Trying to look can force us out of alignment and make our task needlessly difficult.
We have to trust our technique to get us over ourselves, keep our focus internal, and trust that we’ll bounce through and land on our feet.