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.
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 include:
There are also sport variations:
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 somersaults, 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:
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.