The 20 Most Epic Flips in Sports
Epic flips are no longer reserved for the world of the X Games.
Sure, there are plenty of awesome tricks that go down on motorcycles, snowmobiles and skateboards, but these days, some of the best flip tricks occur in the most unexpected places: on the basketball court, for example, in the end zone or on the baseball diamond.
We know that the guys we watch every Sunday on the gridiron are good athletes, but we didn't realize they were that good. Same goes for the cheerleaders on the sidelines at basketball games and some of the kids playing HORSE in their backyards.
Here are some of the most exhilarating flips in sports.
20. Bango's Backflip Dunk
Everyone loves seeing a mascot do tricks, especially when the tricks aren't lame. This one certainly qualifies as non-lame.
Here, we see Bango—the Milwaukee Bucks mascot—climb a ladder not to his death but in preparation for an amazing feat. Bango stands on the very top of the ladder, which puts him several feet higher than the backboard, and then flips backward off the ladder and dunks the ball before falling onto a mat.
This trick is definitely not for those who are afraid of heights, but apparently there is no mascot as brave as Bango.
19. Backflip Penalty Kick
We've seen a lot of soccer tricks that include flipping while throwing the ball in, and those are cool and all, but they don't even compare to this one.
While gearing up for a penalty kick, this player not only sends the ball straight past the goalkeeper—he executes a nifty landing backflip directly after kicking the ball. You have to love that confidence; he just knew the ball was going in. He didn't even have to look.
Of course, he got plenty of accolades from his teammates after the trick, and not just because he netted the goal.
18. Player Takes Flip Throw-In to the Face
Speaking of those soccer tricks where you flip before throwing the ball in, here's one that went hilariously wrong but is still unintentionally awesome.
This soccer legend has seemingly perfected the art of the flipping throw-in and gets some nice distance on the ball, sending it all the way toward the goal. Unfortunately for the dude who planted himself directly in front of the net in hopes of scoring, he takes the ball right to the face.
An unexpected perk to an already excellent flip trick.
17. David Wilson's Backflip Celebration
There are some players who have spectacular patented touchdown celebrations, and the Giants' David Wilson is one of them.
The rookie running back had a pretty good first season with New York, and the Giants want him to be around for a while. What they don't want is to lose him to some kind of freak season-ending injury stemming from a backflip during a touchdown celebration.
According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com, Wilson started doing the celebration move as a toddler, but the Giants are over it and would prefer that he let it go, once and for all.
Teammate Justin Tuck told Youngmisuk, "Let's just keep him upright and running and leave the backflips for YouTube. They're already on YouTube. If people want to see them, they can go to YouTube and see them."
Wise words, but the flip is still fun to watch.
16. Jordy Smith's Rodeo Flip
For most of us, the idea of doing a backflip on dry land is scary enough. The thought of doing it in the ocean on a surfboard, where you could get hit in the head with the surfboard and possibly drown, is beyond our consideration.
The same cannot be said for Jordy Smith.
A few years ago, the South African pro surfer pulled off this insane surfing flip—known as the "rodeo flip," according to Yahoo! Sports—and seems to defy gravity at the end when he simply refuses to let the waves take him down. GrindTV told Yahoo! that the move definitely qualifies as one of the best ever executed on the water, and after watching this video, that is not at all hard to believe.
15. Nick Fiorini's 360 Flip
We're a little bit spoiled when it comes to watching people do cool things on skateboards, motorbikes and snowmobiles. It seems like they can all flip and toss and turn at will, and it leads us believe there's nothing they can't do.
Nick Fiorini is one of those people who can seemingly do anything on a skateboard, and this is a prime example. He skates down a ramp and goes over a flight of stairs, turning his board 360 degrees in midair and making a perfect, clean landing.
On another note, if I could do something cool enough to make one of my friends celebrate like this guy's friend, I'd do it all the time. His reaction is almost as good as the trick itself.
14. Heath Frisby's Snowmobile Front Flip
It's hard to land a clean flip on a snowmobile, and it's dangerous. We saw that at this year's Winter X Games.
Even in light of that, this trick by Heath Frisby is still impressive.
Frisby was a trendsetter at the 2012 X Games when he successfully executed a front flip on the snowmobile, landing clean and safe and taking the gold medal in Snowmobile Best Trick. He was the first competitor to pull off the maneuver.
13. Adam Waddell's Flipping Faceplant
So...this is funny until you begin to contemplate how much pain it doubtless caused.
There is very little in the world that is worse than missing a breakaway dunk. This, however, definitely qualifies, even though the player managed to get two points out of it.
A few years ago, Wyoming's Adam Waddell stole the ball and took it the other way. He geared up for the dunk and threw it down, but apparently the rim was a bit flimsier than he expected, because he hung on for a beat too long, flung himself into an unintentional flip and faceplanted on the hardwood.
Props to him for trying to walk it off, though.
12. Thomas Pages' 540 Flip
Thomas Pages feared nothing at Red Bull X-Fighters Munich last summer. You aren't allowed to fear anything if you're going to take a motorbike off a jump and let go of the handlebars to flip yourself around while you're midair, or when you're going to execute a 540-degree flip (skip to two-minute mark of video).
In completing both of those tasks, Pages was immune to the fear—but that doesn't mean that he didn't recognize the recklessness of what he was doing. After the event, he told Oakley.com, "I had so many hot tricks to do tonight and felt the crowd pushing me on. This was the scariest event I’ve ever done."
During that event, Pages was on fire, as he was 80 points behind leader Levi Sherwood heading into the day but had tied him by the end of it.
11. The Fordham Flip
There are some guys who will do anything to score a run, and those are precisely the guys you always want to have on your team.
They are also the guys who have given us moments like the infamous Fordham Flip.
In 2010, during a game between Fordham University and Iona College, Brian Kownacki made a not-so-great decision to try to score from first on a single up the middle and an error by the outfielder, according to MLB.com. As he approached the plate, it became clear to him that he wasn't going to beat the throw, but he didn't give up.
Instead, he flipped over the catcher and somehow landed with his hands on home plate before the catcher could tag him—mostly because the catcher was too busy being flabbergasted that the runner had leaped over him.
To make the day even more perfect, Fordham won 12-9.
10. Brett Williams' Tumbling Catch
Outfielders have one of the toughest jobs in baseball. They have to run faster, dive harder and often put their bodies at greater risk than anyone (except pitchers) in order to make a game-saving catch.
The best ones will move mountains to make that big play, for better or worse, just like this dude.
In a 9-2 win over New Mexico State on Wednesday, Brett Williams helped to secure his team's sizable lead by making a diving catch on a fly ball toward center. Not only did he make the catch, but he flipped through the air as soon as the ball landed in his glove before tumbling to the ground.
He must have practiced that a few times.
9. Maciah Thomas' Infamous Trick Shot
You have to wonder if this clip has been doctored in some way—not out of any disrespect to the 15-year-old phenom who sunk it, but just because it doesn't even seem humanly possible, no matter how much practice went into it.
Maciah Thomas, a 15-year-old from Frederick, Md., must either be a freak athlete or have practiced this shot all day, every day for his entire life. That's the only way you could explain how he starts off on the lawn, flips forward and lets the ball fly as he's coming around, banking it in.
Being able to do a front flip is one thing, but being able to sink a hoop while flipping from the lawn is another. Apparently, others agreed, because this trick earned him a nomination to be on SportsCenter's Top 10.
8. Kevin Blackwood's Flip Fail
This one is epic in a different way from most of the others.
We've already covered some of the great flips from the world of motocross, and whenever we watch one of these competitions, we expect to see spectacular things. In this instance, Scottish motocross rider Kevin Blackwood didn't let us down.
Maybe he got a little bit too excited thinking about all of the super awesome tricks that were to come, and maybe he just couldn't wait to get started—literally. Before the race officially began, Blackwood false-started and ended up flipping his bike and falling off it.
He tried to brush it off, but how do you recover from something like that when every single one of your competitors saw you screw up?
7. Rodeo 720
Here, we have one of the most infamous flips of all time: Travis Pastrana's 720-degree backflip on the bike.
The motorsports aficionado—who has competed in everything from motocross to NASCAR over the course of his career—executed the feat successfully in 2009, just months after he attempted it at X Games 15 but crashed and had to withdraw because of blurred vision.
Ever one to get back up on the horse, though, Pastrana landed the impressive trick and has been known for it since.
Technically, however, the jump trick was 20 degrees short of being a full 720 degrees, hence its nickname: the TP7.
6. Michael Cox's Front-Flip Touchdown
Now we're getting to the good stuff.
Flips are especially impressive on the gridiron because they're so spur-of-the-moment. It's not like you can plan to flip over a defender and into the end zone; you think about it, and you either decide to go for it or you decide you're not gutsy enough.
Michael Cox was definitely gutsy enough.
The UMass running back saw the end zone, and he saw he didn't have a direct path to it, so instead of trying to go around the defender, he opted for going over—even if it meant landing flat on his back.
It was worth the six points and the acclaim.
5. Jerome Simpson's Flip Touchdown
Here, we have the original flip touchdown, the one that set the trend for them all.
In 2011, the world went crazy for Jerome Simpson's end-zone flip. Maybe it was because it was the NFL, or maybe it was because this was a big play for a Bengals team that was in the hunt for a playoff berth. Either way, this was perhaps the 2011 play of the year.
Not only did Simpson flip over the Cardinals defender—he vaulted him. He got some serious height on that jump, and to top it all off, he made a cleaner landing than half the gymnasts in London last summer.
This play is worthy of every bit of hype it receives.
4. Guerlain Chicherit's Mini Cooper Flip
People aren't the only things that can flip epically. Cars can get the job done, too, and it takes just as much work and practice to achieve success.
Last month, French stunt driver Guerlain Chicherit became the first person to successfully execute a full 360-degree backflip in a Mini Cooper. The car launched 75 feet in the air and landed safely on a ramp, according to The News Tribe.
For just a second, think about everything that could have possibly gone wrong with this stunt attempt. What were the odds that he actually landed this trick? Why didn't he care about what would happen if he didn't?
Regardless, he did it, and Chicherit now has a little bit of exciting history to his name.
3. Cam Newton's 72-Yard Run
A UMass kid can do it. Jerome Simpson can do it. Of course Cam Newton can do it too.
Freakish athleticism isn't a surprise when you're talking about the Carolina Panthers QB. We saw him terrorize the SEC during his one season at Auburn, and although he hasn't been able to establish any consistency in the NFL, we've seen flashes of brilliance that lead us to believe he could be something special.
This was one of those flashes.
Not only did the Panthers hand the Falcons their second loss of the season on this fateful December day, but Newton added insult to injury when he took the ball 72 yards for a touchdown and punctuated the score by front-flipping himself into the end zone.
It's one thing to flip into the end zone at the end of a long touchdown run. It's another thing to flip mid-play to keep that touchdown run alive.
Yes, this high schooler upstaged both Jerome Simpson and Cam Newton. Unfortunately, though, he's an actor.
You might recognize this play as the one from AT&T's "Hello" commercial featuring Bob Stoops.
Is it epic because of the feat involved? Or is it epic because an advertising company fleeced about 800,000 people (including me) who watched the viral video when it was released on YouTube months before the commercial aired and thought it was real?
The pretend running back gets the ball around the 30-yard line, runs to the outside and front-flips over the defender directly in front of him before landing on his feet and sprinting down the field. For those like me who just found out this was fake, their worlds have been shattered—but it's still a pretty sick play.
Too bad it was staged.
1. Cheerleader's Flip Trick Shot
This one is the king of all sports-related flips because of several factors: the fact that this girl has to be able to execute a front flip and grab a ball while airborne, the fact that she tried this over and over again and could never seem to sink it and the fact that she had to do it in a gymnasium full of people.
When she finally made it, it had to feel pretty good.
Cheerleader Ashlee Arnau of William Carey University got a running start toward the ball—which was placed on the half-court line—before front-flipping, grabbing the ball during the flip and hurling it toward the hoop. And she made it. From half court.
College basketball. It's where the magic happens.