AskDefine | Define somersault

Dictionary Definition

somersault n : an acrobatic feat in which the feet roll over the head (either forward or backward) and return [syn: somersaulting, flip] v : do a somersault

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. In gymnastics, an act where the gymnast goes head over heels


Extensive Definition

A somersault (sometimes salto) is an acrobatic feat in which a person rotates around the somersault axis, moving the feet over the head. The somersault can be performed either forwards, backwards, or sideways.
The word originates from the obsolete French word sombresault. In Dgèrnésiais the word is buncho.
There are many variations of front and back somersaults with most technically recognized versions being defined in the competitive sport of Trampolining - in which a somersault can be competitively performed in three shapes: tuck, pike or straight.
The word 'flip' is not used in trampolining in some countries such as Britain, as for them it is a skill that is executed with more of a backward movement, and also relies on the arms to create rotation and to land on the floor mid flight (whilst going backwards) or to start the move (whilst going forwards) to take all the weight of the body. There is a lot of confusion, as many people who may come from a gymnastics background regard trampolining as bouncing gymnastics. The two are different sports and have different moves, terminology and techniques. Other English speaking countries do use 'flip' as a synonym for a somersault in trampolining.
Other associated moves are:
  • Barani (Front Somersault with 1/2 twist)
  • Rudi (Front Somersault with 1 1/2 twists)
  • Full Back or frontfull (Backflip or frontflip 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)
  • Adolf (Front Somersault with 3 1/2 twists)
  • Back in - Full out (Double Back Somersault with 1 twist in the second somersault)
etc - the list is very long
There are also sport variations:
  • Flash Kick (Back Somersault with legs split to represent a 'kick') [not a recognised competition move]
  • X-Out (Back Somersault with both legs kicking out so legs form a V shape) [not a recognised competition move]
  • Gainer (Back Somersault whilst the momentum of the body is moving forward)
  • Barrelroll (Performing a Sideflip in a forward movement)
  • Front gain (Front somersault but moving backwards from take off)
NB: gain is a term used in trampolining to denote travel in the opposite direction to the somersault rotation (i.e. moving backwards during a front somersault or forwards during a back somersault.)
As well as using full somersualts, somersaults can be used in 1/4 rotations. As you can have a half twist, by only twisting around part of the twist axis, so you can have rotation around part of the somersault axis (although half somersaults usually land on the head, so let's stick to 1/4 increments!)
These variations can include moves such as:
  • Crash Dive (3/4 Front Somersault to back landing) [currently in discussion to change the name]
  • Lazy Back (3/4 Back Somersault to front landing)
  • Ballout (1 1/4 Front Somersault to feet from back landing)
  • Cody (1 1/4 back Somersault to feet from front landing)
and all manner of double and triple somersaults, including twist rotation can all land in body landings - however for competition purposes these are usually left out as they severely kill height. Many sports (not just gymnastics) have aided the confusion. For instance in many extreme sports such as BMX, FMX, scootering, snowboarding and even skateboarding, a backward rotation is referred to as a "backflip". Certain new wave sports such as tricking and parkour also name their moves flips. Although this has caused conflicts in the sports, it must be widely accepted that each sport will have its own terms for the moves performed.
As with all trampoline moves the somersault can be linked into many different sequences,and at the highest level somersaults may be the only skill the performer uses.
somersault in Danish: Saltomortale
somersault in German: Salto (Sprung)
somersault in Finnish: Voltti (akrobatia)
somersault in French: Salto (gymnastique)
somersault in Dutch: Salto (gymnastiek)
somersault in Norwegian: Saltomortale
somersault in Russian: Сальто
somersault in Simple English: Somersault
somersault in Swedish: Saltomortal
somersault in Turkish: Salto

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

be lost, capsizal, capsize, culbute, founder, go down, keel, keel over, overset, overthrow, overturn, pitchpole, revolution, scuttle, sink, somerset, spill, subversion, turn over, turn turtle, turnover, upset, upset the boat, upturn
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