The Story Behind The Flip Throw-In

Michael Harris (center) has helped put Washington on the map this season with his flip throw ins. - Washington Huskies Athletic Department

Guest writer Matt Barbour of MLSSoccer.com shares the history of the flip-throw in.

What do Huskies, Schellas Hyndman and handsprings have in common?

The flip-throw.

Washington Huskies defender Michael Harris has been using the flip-throw (or handspring throw-in) as an effective weapon to create set piece opportunities from angles and distances that are completely foreign to most soccer teams. The senior regularly launches the ball into the box from 40 or more yards away and in interviews he credits his gymnastics background for giving him the ability to execute the highly technical forward flip off of the ball.

But what he may not realize is who he has to thank for inventing the unusual maneuver - FC Dallas coach Hyndman's son, Tony.

"My son Tony started the flip-throw years ago," said Hyndman. "He was playing club soccer here and he was 12 years old. Now, his mother is a gymnast, so the boy could do flip-flops all the way across a basketball court. Then, he did [the flip-throw] and as a 12-year-old, he was able to throw the ball 50 yards."

According to Hyndman, opposing coaches were less than pleased with his son's invention and that they questioned the legality of the play.

"They took it to FIFA, FIFA evaluated it and said it follows all the rules of the game: the ball comes from behind [the head], two hands [on the ball], both feet on the ground when you let the ball go."

Though often effective, the flip-throw is rarely seen at higher levels of soccer because of the sheer difficulty of pulling off the maneuver repeatedly and with accuracy. But Harris has perfected utilizing the torque created by flipping and then transferring the body's momentum to the ball to achieve extraordinarily long throws.

"[Harris] from Washington can throw that ball quite a distance. It's a hell of a threat, isn't it? I'm glad that he's doing it," said Hyndman.

While Hyndman is pleased to see his son's creation being utilized and receiving attention, he also knows how he'd defend it as an opposing coach.

"If I was a college coach, I would water the ball and I would make the field right next to the stands and give him no room to flip," said Hyndman.


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