Difference between a Barrel Roll vs. a Flip

Learn Stunts, Tricks and Jumps of Snowboarding

Snowboarding , an adrenaline junkie sport, that requires skill, agility, power, balance and GUTS! This aerobic sport often incorporates extreme jumps, stalls and twists to awe spectators.  Two such jumps include a Barrel Roll and a flip. A Barrel Roll and a flip are two types of aerial jumps, requiring the snowboarder’s body to invert and rotate 360 degrees.  The difference between executing a Barrel Roll and a flip depends on the axis of rotation.  A person executing a Barrel Roll rotates around the X-axis, while a person performing a flip rotates on the Y-axis.

Snowboarder Performing a JumpCredit: Wiki Commons: Nick Francke, original uploaded by Upperception

Barrel Roll

A Barrel Roll involves flipping forward or backward over the side of the snowboard.    A snowboarder keeps his shoulders and hips parallel to the snowboard and flips in the direction of his toes or heels. The flip most closely resembles a front or back tuck over the side of the board.  A Barrel Roll requires a snowboarder to rotate the body on the X axis around the forward momentum of the snowboard.  The key to successfully completing a Barrel Roll is reaching maximum air height before beginning the rotation.


A flip involves flipping forward or backward over the nose or tail of the snowboard. The movement of a flip most closely resembles a cartwheel in the air.  There are two primary types of snowboarding flips that are based on the direction of the flipping motion.  A forward flip conducted in a sideways fashion over the nose of the snowboard is known as a Tamedog.    Similarly, a backward flip over the tail of the snowboard is called a Wildcat.   Popping firmly off the nose of the snowboard creates the power for completing both of these jumps. 

Axis Rotations

The primary difference between a Barrel Roll and a flip deals with the axis of rotation.  A barrel roll requires the body to rotate around the X axis, an imaginary line running through the hips and parallel to the snowboard.  A Tamedog or Wildcat rotates on the Y axis, an imaginary line running through the core of the snowboarder and perpendicular to the snowboard. 

The picture below demonstrates the motion and axes of rotation when performing a Barrel Roll or flip.

Snowboarding Barrel Roll Vs. FlipCredit: Hypergraphista

Attempting These Jumps:


Try mastering an aerial, a cartwheel without hands, on a trampoline or solid ground before attempting this stunt off a straight jump. Once comfortable, choose your hill carefully. You do not want to choose a large hill or steep incline on your first attempt. Typically, a small slope will allow you enough air to make it around for a safe landing. Also, on your first attempt, go into the jump with minimal speed, as you want to concentrate on your form without over rotating.  Too much momentum or power will cause over rotation.  Before doing this roll, obtain maximum air height.  Reach arms up and out in front of you, and rotate your legs over your head.  Snap your legs down and prepare for landing.  Both forward and backward flips allow you gauge your landing, since these allow you to flip on the X axis. After you become comfortable with your form, you will not need to use your arms, unless you feel more comfortable doing so.

After you become really comfortable with this stunt, you can begin doing multiple flips in a row down a slightly declining slope. See the video below for an example of a snowboarder that has this trick executed very well.

Barrel Roll

To execute a barrel roll on a snowboard, master a front or back tuck on a trampoline before attempting this stunt in the snow off a straight jump.   Once comfortable with the form and rotation of the tuck, attempt this snowboarding maneuver on flat ground or a slightly inclined slope.  Multiple attempts maybe needed to gauge the momentum and power necessary to successfully complete the trick. Too much speed or power can cause over rotation.

Always try to reach maximum air height before rotating forward or backward.  For a forward roll, act as if you are trying to shoot a basketball in the hoop before your begin your flip to reach good air position.  For a backward roll, try to spot something before bringing your legs to chest and over your head. A backward flip maybe easier to execute than a forward flip, since you are able to see your landing during a backward roll.  A forward roll forces you to try to stick your trick with a blind landing.

In the video below, a snowboarder attempts a forward roll.  One of the most noticable flaws of his form is his chest is forward when preparing to land. Pull your chest up before your landing, so the momentum does not force you to fall forward and miss your landing.

Landing a Barrel Roll or Flip in SnowboardingCredit: Wiki Commons:Rama

Watch and Practice, Practice, Practice!

Watching and obtaining tips from other snowboarders may assist you in gaining a better perspective and understanding of the form needed to successfully perform these jumps.    Do not get overly anxious or scared if you fall and do not stick the Barrel roll or flip on your first try, as you most likely will not on your first attempt.  If you fall, assess your form or ask a fellow snowboarder to point out any discrepancies, so you can make proper adjustments. If possible, get a buddy to film your attempts, so you can watch yourself on film and study your form in the air. Perhaps, most importantly, if you fall, get back and try again. 

Below are two videos of snowboarders demonstrating these jumps.

Watch This Snowboarder Attempt a Barrel Roll

A Backward Tuck Off of a Straight

Watch This Snowboarder Attempt a Forward Flip or Tamedog

A Cartwheel in the Air Over a Small Straight or Slope


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