Belly to Back Barrel Roll


The first horizontal orientation transition that you will learn is an easy switch from the Belly Fly to Back Fly position. Being comfortable both flying on your belly and your back will be important so that after completing the transition, you are stationed in a comfortable position.


The belly-to-back barrel roll is the first “transition” you will learn during your flight progression. It is important to note that no transitions should be performed without careful discussion with your instructor on the safety requirements and specific technical details required. Before you learn the belly-to-back barrel roll transition, you will need to be proficient in performing the eight points of motion in both the belly-flying and the back-flying orientations.


The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully start in a neutral belly-flying body position in the center of the tunnel and perform a half-barrel roll transition from your belly to your back, ending in a neutral back-flying position, still in the center of the tunnel, and at the same altitude that you started.


You will start this maneuver by setting yourself up in the center of the tunnel on your belly in a neutral position, about 1-2 feet above the net. Your instructor will remind you to remain low to the net so that he or she will be able to provide any assistance you might need. You will want to make sure that the doorway is not in front of you or behind you at any time. Finally, once the instructor is ready for you to begin the maneuver, he or she will clearly show you a “thumbs up” signal. You should not perform any transition until you are sure that you have received this safety signal.

Technique and Drills


  • Begin in the center of the tunnel in the neutral Belly Fly position
  • Initiate the transition using the lower half of your body and allow your upper body to follow
  • Pick a preferred direction to rotate as this will determine how you will initiate the maneuver
  • For a barrel roll to the right, you will drop your right knee and cross that knee in front of your left leg to start the roll. For a barrel roll to the left, initiate with the left knee.
  • Allow your hips to follow as your legs begin to rotate, and then finally your upper body will follow last
  • As you roll to your back aim to enter a neutral Back Fly body position promptly
  • During the rotation, your arms will remain neutral throughout
  • Once you finish on your back, you may need to make small position adjustments to maintain heading and altitude and remain in the center of the tunnel
  • Aim to keep eye contact with a reference point in front of you; this will assist in maintaining a heading and altitude
  • You will need to focus on keeping your legs bent throughout this maneuver to ensure you don’t create any unwanted forward drive
  • For a barrel roll in the opposite direction, utilize opposite inputs

Post-flight questions / suggestions

  • How did your performance match the initial objectives?
  • Were you able to transition smoothly, staying on the initial heading and altitude?
  • What techniques did you feel comfortable with and what can you improve on during the next session?
  • Do you feel more comfortable going one direction? What can you do differently to improve your weaker direction?


As you learn this skill, you will likely learn the back to belly barrel roll transition simultaneously. Seeing as one naturally sets up for the other, it is a good opportunity to hone in on each of the transition skills along with controlling you belly and back flight to be able to demonstrate full control throughout.

What skill level is next?

Back to Belly Barrel Roll

The second half to the belly to back barrel roll transition, which will ultimately place you on to your belly so that the barrel roll cycle will start again. These transitions are somewhat simple maneuvers that in order to master perfectly require a specific set of inputs at the right time to execute correctly.