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Breaking the Backspin – How to Do a Backspin

How to do backspin
How to do backspin

Table of Contents

Wanting to get down for the first time? All breakers begin with basics like footwork styles, but integrating power moves, like the backspin, turns breaking into the hip-hop style most people associate with the scene.

The backspin move is one of the easiest power moves to learn. Since it is the foundation for so many other power moves and various transitions, breakers must learn this early to awaken their original styles.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn about this move and how to do a backspin at home. 

What is a Backspin?

Backspins are precisely what you would think. They’re a move whereby a breaker spins around on their back, using continuous momentum to perform multiple complete revolutions. It’ll leave you looking like a record spinning on a DJ’s decks when done correctly.

While not as visually impressive as other power moves, backspins remain among the top 10 breakdance moves because they are easy for beginners to master. Unlike other power moves, they don’t require much strength, flexibility, and balance.

 Additionally, the backspin is critical for transitioning between power moves, with many of the skills learned applying to other power moves, such as windmills and their variations.

Backspin Variations

Many breakers may look at the backspin move as vanilla-flavored ice cream, but like all basics, you can quickly flip your moves with a range of variations. The backspin is no exception, so here is a list of common variations: 

  • California Backspin – Backspins initiated from lying down on your back and side. This type of spin is initiated with a kick. Historians believe this was invented by b-boy Mr. Freeze in the early 1980s.
  • Hopping Backspin – This backspin has a little extra spice and is an example of adding original style. These spins involve hopping off one’s back, which was first done by b-boy Spider in 1984.
  • New York Backspins – These are known as “whips” and begin from a “stabbed” position. Like the California variant, these are also initiated with a kick. B-boy Crazy Legs invented this one in 1980.

The top b-boys still use these basic moves to transition between other moves or as part of their overall sets to emphasize fluidity. As part of any perfect practice formula, starting with the basics before trying variations is recommended. 

The History of the Backspin Move

The creation of the backspin is an interesting story because it’s one of the oldest power moves in breaking. 

It’s believed that it entered breaking in the mid-1970s. B-boy JoJo of the early Rock Steady Crew is believed to have brought it into the scene in 1976, but many believe the Zulus of Southern Africa were the first to perform it.

Traditional Zulu dancing already included footwork, headspins, and backspins, but whether it’s a coincidence or directly inspired JoJo remains unknown.

According to several contemporary historians, it’s believed backspins came about as a mistake, where JoJo slipped while performing a buttspin and just kept going. Either way, this move featured in all early breaking movies, including Beat Street, Style Wars, Flashdance, and Wild Style.

In short, if you’re learning how to breakdance and need to master your foundation, this is one of the moves to start with.

How to Do a Backspin for Beginners

Backspins are the simplest power move for beginners to learn. It’s also a great starting point for studying the art of power flow and incorporating it into your sets. 

Before going any further, look for a smooth floor to make spinning easier. You may also want to wear a slippery jacket to decrease friction between you and the floor. 

Now, if you’re wondering how to pull this move off at home, here’s your beginner’s guide on how to do a backspin.

Step One – Get Into the Starting Position

Backspins don’t require colossal flexibility and strength, making it the ideal move for new breakers. 

The starting position involves sitting down with your legs split. This means your right leg should be straight out in front of you with your left leg bent behind you.

You can also reverse this position to perform a counter-clockwise spin. There’s no real difference in the technique.

Step Two – Start the Spin

Your bent leg is designed to generate the momentum needed to spin around. To initiate the spin, kick your bent leg in a circular motion toward your straight leg.

Simultaneously, lean back onto the ground. The key to a great spin is to ensure you’re as high up on your back as possible. The perfect b-boy form is to be spinning on the part of your back between your shoulder blades.

Keep practicing this until you can complete a whole spin. 

Step Three – Master the Backspin

It shouldn’t take long for you to reach the point where you can finish a complete revolution on your back, but where do the speed and style come from?

This is where the tuck comes in. Once you have completed around half a spin, tuck your knees into your chest and ensure your feet point toward the ceiling.

Doing so will generate more momentum and enable you to spin like a record. On a side note, to go faster, kick your leg harder and try pushing off with your right hand while leaning in the direction you want to spin. 


The key to longevity in breaking is continuous practice. Even repeating the basics of a simple move like backspins will ultimately turn you into a better breaker.

The best way to progress is to work with a breaker who knows how to teach. The true importance of teaching is faster progression and avoiding the common pitfalls of going it alone. At the B-Boy & B-Girl Dojo, we offer a range of remote learning courses to take your sets to the next level. 

Sign up for our courses and prepare to reach your potential as a breaker today.

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