"It's called a reverse planche in a straight-leg position, then in a straddle position," she says matter-of-factly. "Nobody has ever done it that way. Bela and Marta (Karolyi) kind of made it up and I was able to do it."
Phillips starts in a handstand on the beam and bends her back until her legs are parallel to the ground and her rear end is just above her upturned head, her eyes trained on her heels. After holding that pose, Phillips does the splits with her back in the same position.
Phillips knows she will need to be at her best to prepare for the Olympics.
"I have a long way to go to catch up with the Russians," she says. "By watching them, you can tell how far I have to go to catch up. They do something that makes them better."
Although the special move is part of her balance beam routine, Phillips favors the floor exercise.
"You can get out there and smile and have fun and play with the crowd a little bit," she says. "You're not worried about falling off anything."
Phillips prepares for competition by practicing with her best friend, Phoebe Mills, another Karolyi student and also one of the country's top hopes for the '88 Olympics.
"We put a lot of pressure on each other and working with her just pushes me so far," she says. "I don't think I could've done half the things I've done without her. It's always hard, always tense. Like Bela, not everyone can make you work hard, but he gets you really motivated and psyched up to work. Phoebe helps me work hard."