In order to perform tricks like the layout, the shooting star and other tricks from the Level 4+ circle on the TSNY Tricks Chart, you should be able to build height in your swing. This can be done in three main ways: your sweep (both off the platform and going into your seven), your forceout, and your seven. This summer we will analyze one of these strategies each month in the order of relative ease to achieve. For June we will focus on the Sweep.
Form in your sweep is what will contribute most to the height of your swing. Your legs must be together (with toes pointed), and they must also be straight. For those of you who practice yoga, you can get a feel for what this is like when doing downward dog pose. Next time youre in this pose, try squeezing your quadriceps muscles (the ones on the front of your thighs) and then squeeze your glutes (your butt muscles). Head position during a sweep is also important. Many people are in the habit of putting their head down as they sweep. As you progress (and find yourself wanting to develop a full and powerful sweep), it will become important for you to keep your head and neck in a neutral position to allow your upper back to open as you sweep. Having your head up begins to position your body for what comes next–the forceout or the seven.
Simply improving your form when you sweep will go a long way towards increasing the height of your swing—but you must be strict with yourself. The quest for a bigger sweep very often causes people to bend their knees. Remember: the sweep is usually less about how big of an arched shape you make and more about riding it through a longer arc of the swing. Once you perfect your form and learn to sweep longer, you can begin (slowly) adding some power.
In your next class, try focusing on your sweep form. If you find you are having difficulty maintaining good form throughout your sweep, don’t get frustrated. Talk to your instructors about things you can do both at and away from the rig to help improve your technique. It takes time and practice to master a good sweep but ultimately you will notice more height in your swing!
Stay tuned next month when we bring you Building Height in Your Swing, Part 2: The Forceout.