Building Height in Your Swing, part 2: The Forceout

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 elements each month in the order of relative ease to achieve.  Last month we looked at the sweep. This month we will focus on the forceout.

Ah, the forceout. There’s so much to be said on this one and only so much space in this newsletter. So let’s talk basics. Consider the pendulum that is the swing; the key principle to building the size of the swing is ‘long on the way down, short on the way up’. The timing of the sweep fulfills part of the ‘long on the way down’ requirement. The main purpose of the forceout is to make you ‘short on the way up’ by pulling your center of mass (generally, your hips) closer to the bar on the way up. You need to extend fully after your forceout to make you ‘long on the way down’.

In order to get your hips closer to the bar, you need to drive your legs up as you’re coming ‘up the hill’. The key to doing this is to start the effort as early as possible–which means from the very back of your sweep. (This is yet another example of where ‘form’ matters: the tighter you are as you sweep, the easier it will be for you to drive your forceout up nice and high). Imagine trying to kick a ball: first, there’s the wind-up (the sweep) and then you swing your legs back down and ‘through’ the ball. The same principle applies to the forceout–the more effort you put into it early on, the more you can get out of it.

As your forceout develops, you’ll feel it contributing to a lifting sensation at the front of your swing. This is a sign that you need to start pulling as you forceout. The timing of the pull is usually ‘before you think it’s possible’. If you try to pull when you hear the call for it and feel like you can’t–don’t worry. The important thing is that you continue trying to pull. As you continue ‘up the hill’, it gets easier to pull. Keep your elbows in front of you as you pull down, bringing the bar in front of you, and then push the bar up and away from you as you extend. Remember that you need to finish your forceout fully extended and ‘flat’ by the time you reach the peak of your swing (so you can be ‘long on the way down’).

By the way, staying ‘long on the way down’ is the reason why a smaller hollow tends to be better than a big hollow.

In your next class, after your sweep (which, of course, now has beautiful form), try putting more effort into your forceout sooner.  Talk to your friendly neighborhood instructors about ways to make this work for you. It takes time and some strong core muscles, but the effort is worth it when you find yourself swinging higher and higher!

Stay tuned next month for Part 3: The Seven!

2 thoughts on “Building Height in Your Swing, part 2: The Forceout”

    1. Woo! That’s a big one!
      On the one hand, there’s no doubt that you need a certain amount of pulling strength–what we call ‘connected’ strength. Essentially, this means that the pulling force from your arms works better when it’s connected to a super stable core. And that super stable core needs to be connected to your hips. In this way, it’s easier to “stay tight” when you’re stronger through your whole body. A good starting point for all of this is here:

      On the other hand, a big part of improving the pull in your force out is a combination of timing and re-thinking the parts of the swing leading up to the pull. What I mean here is that if the timing of your pull is off, it will feel nearly impossible to do. (This tends to lead people to think they just need to be stronger…which is usually partially true and being stronger almost never hurts in flying trapeze).
      I would suggest that the initiation of the pulling effort begins right after your reach the most ‘stretched out’ part of your sweep. And here’s where the ‘connected’ strength bit comes in: at the very back of your sweep (where your body is most stretched out), the goal is to avoid losing tension through the fronts of your legs, your core and your shoulders. This way, the muscles on the front of your body can act a bit like a slow elastic band recoiling: you sweep back–gather tension–and then immediately begin whipping your body forward. This is when the effort to pull begins. It will feel you’re going nowhere with the pull at this point, but keep pulling!
      As you come through the bottom, and the journey ‘up the hill’ begins, this is where you can start driving your feet up the hill as well (and the trajectory of your toes should be higher than that of the swing). If you’ve been maintaining the pulling effort, this is the part where you’ll begin to feel it working and it becomes easier to bend your elbows and feel like you’re finally ‘pulling’.
      I hope this is at least somewhat helpful!