The exact technique to flip throws can vary. Hansen and Alfano both land on two feet like a true front handspring. Others will do flip throws landing one foot at a time, similar to a front handspring step out.
"With two, I have more power," Hansen said.
Once the technique of the throwing is refined, the advanced throwers can take it to another level. At times, Alfano will loft the ball higher in the air if he has a teammate who's tall and can definitely get a head on it. Or, he can choose to throw it as far as he can on more of a line, toward the far post. He estimates he can launch it about 50 yards if he needs to.
Mostly, flip throws are used in the attacking third of the field. A good flip throw will loft the ball right in front of the goal, where a teammate can score with a strong header. The 2011 Florida Class 4A girls state championship was won when a Laurie Laughlin flip throw was headed in by a teammate in overtime.
Alfano has had similar success. He tallied two assists off his flip throw during his junior season at Marquette, including one in the Big East tournament. Alfano has fine-tuned his flip throw to the point where his teammates can know almost precisely where it's going to go.
"You can get pretty accurate," Alfano said. "Eight out of 10 times, I can get it on a head."
Both Alfano and Hansen admit that one thing will put the flip throw on the shelf every time.
"When it's wet outside, we do a regular throw-in," Alfano said. "It's easy to flip off the ball and get hurt (when it's wet)."
Added Hansen: "The ball is usually a lot slicker in the rain, and we have a track around the field. Falling would be bad, and it probably wouldn't go as far because it would slip out of your hand."
Flip throws seem to be more common in the women's game, for two reasons:
- More females have gymnastics backgrounds and are able to do a flip throw.
- Some stronger males, especially at the college level and beyond, can do normal throw-ins that reach the goalkeeper box.
Overall, though, the flip throw is rare at all levels of soccer. That's why when Alfano or Hansen unleash one for the first time, the crowd is instantly captivated.
The combination of the acrobatics it requires, the opportunity it provides and the flamboyance fans love makes it one of soccer's true treats.