The method behind the madness, part 2

It may surprise you to learn that your journey from Level 1 to Level 2 can begin as early as your second class when we introduce you to your first release trick: the Set Heels Off. At first, completely letting go of the bar may seem strange, but as we said last month: there’s method to the madness. The primary focus of Level 2 is to introduce you to some of the more foundational skills required for quality performance on the flying trapeze—and then to establish consistency and proficiency with these skills. The underlying goal of Level 2 is to prepare you for learning the swing and the basic backend tricks to follow. We begin this journey by teaching you a series of ‘set’ release tricks.

From your first Set Heels catch and onward through every trick you’ll ever throw to a catcher, we expand the idea of ‘catch hands’ to include your whole body. Good, catchable hands are very important, but so are the orientation/position of your body in the air and how ‘tight’ you are at that moment. How your body is positioned when you release the bar sets you up for not only a good catch, but a good miss. You need to always be prepared for missing a catch, because we all miss a catch sometimes, and when we do, gravity will ensure we land in the net.

There are two key reasons for being tight at the moment of the catch. One is that a tight, well-positioned flyer makes for a smooth catch. Later, as you work towards Level 4 status, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your catches smooth for the catcher because this helps tremendously with working on returns. The second reason staying tight at catch-point helps is that it prepares you for a possible ‘miss’ to the net. If the catch doesn’t happen, you’re not done: you are still in mid-air, after all! Being tight and well-positioned means your landing will be much more comfortable and safe. If ever your position is off or you don’t stay tight, you can trust your Lines person to slow you down, but this ultimately interferes with future progress, especially when you begin to learn to work your swing in the catcher’s hands.

Learning to stay tight is a crucial element to your future success when learning the swing. To learn the swing, you’ll also need a solid one-handed take-off, which we’ll discuss next month. In the meantime, talk to your Instructors about staying tight or consider taking a Conditioning Class where they’ll show you specific exercises that with help you to get better at ‘staying tight’.