Range-of-Motion Drills for Back Flyers

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Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Niklas Daniel. Information about AXIS' coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.



  • To become more stable and mobile while back-flying solo.
  • To gain the skill set necessary to take grips on other jumpers.
  • To gain greater air awareness that will allow you to perform more advanced maneuvers (such as back-to-head-up transitions).


  • Ability to smoothly transition over your side between the belly and back orientations (half barrel roll).
  • Proficiency in the back-fly neutral position (see “Foundations of Flight—Basic Back-Fly Position,” July 2012 Parachutist)
  • Ability to control heading and level in the back-fly position and to move forward and backward. (You do not have to be able to execute these movements perfectly.)


Once you are proficient at maintaining a controlled and relaxed back-fly position, you will eventually want to increase your skill level by challenging your body’s balance (ability to recover from instability) and explore your range of movement. First, attempt to touch various parts of your body with one hand only. In order of difficulty, try touching your:

  1. Head
  2. Hands
  3. Chest
  4. Waist
  5. Knees
  6. Feet

Once you’re proficient at performing these skills with one hand, perform them using both hands at the same time. Once that is easy, attempt to touch the same points across your centerline (e.g., right hand on left knee, etc.).

Helpful Hints

Your goal in these exercises is to maintain stability, heading and a consistent fall rate while solo, which will translate to reliable performance when learning more advanced maneuvers.


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