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Head Down Forward/Backward

As you work through the Head Down flight progression, there are many skills that you have exposure to during the basic position training in Belly, Back, and Sit Flying. Forward and Backward Movement being one of those, you have the basic understanding of these movements as part of balancing your neutral position. Being able to control any movements in order to stay still will be your primary means of learning this skill and then moving on to specific Forward and Backward movements to designated places inside the tunnel.

This skill will be useful as you take Head Down flying in the sky, utilizing the movement to approach formations safely and in control.


The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully begin in a neutral Head Down position off the net, and on the signal from your coach, fly forward approximately 3-5 feet from your original position and stop. When signalled again, fly backward 3-5 feet to your starting point. You should be able to complete each movement without losing your heading, gaining or losing any altitude, or needing to “bail” due to any instability.


First, set up in the center of the tunnel, flying Head Down at roughly waist height above the net. On the coach’s signal, initiate either a small Forward or Backward movement, which will place you close to one side of the tunnel. Ensure that the movements you are planning to perform provide enough space to complete the movement without contacting the tunnel wall. It is always recommended that you not fly any closer than 2 feet from the wall. This will allow your head to clear the wall if you need to “bail” to your Sit Fly for any reason.


  • You will begin in a Head Down, neutral position with enough space in front of you to perform this maneuver. Ideally you will start with your back close to the tunnel wall
  • Initiate the Forward movement by extending your back leg and pushing your arms slightly back
  • Keep your spine straight throughout the entire movement
  • Stop the movement before reaching the opposite side of the tunnel by returning your back leg to neutral, extending your front leg slightly, and returning your arms to neutral
  • Use small inputs to begin with until you become comfortable with this movement


Check In

  • How did your performance match the initial objectives?
  • Were you able to maintain stability for both movements consistently?
  • Can you complete the movements without turning, gaining or losing altitude?

When you are learning to fly the neutral Head Down position, you will naturally learn the basics of each of the control movements. Once you feel like you have the basic control of the forward and backward movements, set yourself a goal to move to specific places inside the wind tunnel and also mix in altitude and movement changes to help advance each of these skills together.

Learn more about the fundamentals of Sit to Head Down transitions on the IBA Skills page. Download the full lesson plan and check out the rest of the post-flight evaluation questions and suggestions.

head down forward movement
head down forward movement

More Tutorial Videos

Previous Tutorial, Head Down Fall Rate Control

IBA Sit Fly Tutorials HERE

IBA Back Fly Tutorials HERE

IBA Dynamic Progression Tutorials HERE

This article was originally published on @the_iba