Advanced Throw-In – The Flip Throw



The “flip” throw-in, also known as the “handspring” throw-in, is the combination of a gymnastics front-handspring and a soccer throw-in.  Designed to meet all of the requirements of Law 15, “The Throw-in,” the flip throw, when performed properly, is completely legal.  A gymnastics front-handspring involves a short sprint run-up, a forward bend at the waist that allows the hands to contact the floor, forcing the legs up and over the body to continue a circular motion, finally bringing the feet back to contact the floor. Instead of using the hands to contact a floor, however, a soccer ball is held tightly in both hands and the ball is used to contact the ground.

To perform the flip throw-in:

  1. The player must first be able to effectively, consistently, and comfortably perform a front handspring.  (See below.)
  2. The ball is to be gripped very tightly, equally with both hands, similar to the “Goalkeeper’s-W,” in a way that the wrist and thumbs will be able to absorb the shock of the ball contacting the ground without becoming dislodged.
  3. The sprint, or “run-up” to the throw must be measured to start far enough outside the touchline to allow for the full rotation of the body and for the feet to land close to – but still outside* – the sideline. Players should always calculate this distance so that they never have to be concerned that their feet will land inside the field of play.
  4. The ball may be moved from side-to-side as the run-up takes place, but this must be done with both arms so that the grip on the ball with both hands is not lost.
  5. The ball is taken to the ground and the front handspring performed.
  6. As both feet are then returned to the ground outside the sideline, the target is spotted as the rotation is ending.
  7. The momentum of the handspring is used to catapult the ball from behind and over the head, equally with both hands, into the center of the field.
  8. The momentum of the body usually takes the player to the ground inside the field of play, with the hands used to break the fall. This is a legal throw-in as long as, after delivering the ball, both feet continue to stay in contact with the ground at the point where the ball first went out of bounds.

*This allows for a margin of error in case the feet land on the touchline itself.

Sample flip throw-in video.


The Front Handspring

Start with a Handstand

A basic handstand can be performed indoors on mats, with a spotter or a wall, or outside using a spotter. A spotter standing to the side should simply provide an outstretched arm to meet the legs, just as a wall.

  1. Identify the desired location for the placement of the hands on the floor or ground.
  1. With the feet together, extend the arms overhead.
  2. Lift the “strong” or preferred leg off the floor or the ground.
  3. Step forward with the preferred leg and plant the foot solidly on the floor or ground.
  4. Bend forward from the waist, planting both palms, shoulder-width apart, on the floor or the ground approximately 24-inches in front of the preferred foot.
  5. Swing the other leg up into the air, locking the knee, moving into the reverse-vertical or handstand position.
  6. Draw the preferred leg up into the air, so that both legs are together.
  7. Control the angular momentum of the legs. Stop when the heels hit the wall or the calves hit the outstretched arm of the spotter.
  8. Hold the handstand position.
  9. Return the preferred leg, then the other leg, to the floor or the ground.
  10. Continue to practice the handstand until the inverted vertical position can be established and maintained without using the wall or the spotter.

Move to the full Handspring

Now using a spotter only in an open space:

  1. From the handstand position, press forcefully through your palms and propel both legs and the body forward to simulate a complete rotation.
  2. Land with your feet together on the ground and your arms fully extended over your head.

Add the Run-up

Include a running start to complete the full progression of the skill. Still using a spotter:

  1. Take at least three running steps.
  2. Plant the preferred foot as in the handstand.
  3. Lean your torso forward and plant your palms on the ground approximately a full torso and arm length in front of your plant foot, keeping your elbows straight.
  4. Swing the other leg up and over, going through the handstand position.
  5. Follow with the plant leg.
  6. Press off with your arms, completing the rotation.
  7. Land with both feet together, flat on the ground.


Soccer Coaching Tips:

  • The flip throw is almost always performed deep toward the goalline at a 90-degree angle to the sideline. In accordance with the Law, the ball must be delivered from where it went out.
  • This is a designed or set play. The play must be prepared in advance. This is often practiced similarly to a corner kick.
  • The ball must be dry.
  • The hands must be dry.
  • The thrower must have good cleats (with a firm grip to the turf).
  • The flip throw is best performed on dry, natural surfaces with good traction.
  • The front handspring portion of the flip throw is best taught by a qualified gymnastics instructor.
  • Fields are marked differently and some have fencing, running tracks, or ad (dasher) boards around the perimeter.  Before performing a flip throw, the player and coach must ensure that there is sufficient space available from any obstructions to be able to safely perform the run-up.
  • There is a modification to the flip throw where the ball is actually pre-positioned on the ground and, instead of running with the ball, the player picks it up as part of the handspring.

© Copyright, John C. Harves