The Aerial Long Game

Aerial Journey

Day 1. Your instructor shows the newest move the class is going to try today. Excitement builds (and maybe a few nerves) as you step up to your apparatus to try and mimic what was shown. First attempt is a complete bust, as is the second. The third attempt is better but still not quite it. Now onto the fourth attempt …wait are you regressing? It was worse than the first attempt. You start to get a bit frustrated, but no big deal it’s only your first class trying the skill. You’ll definitely land it in the next class! Fast forward to a few months later and you still haven’t landed or completed the skill. Frustration kicks in and you wonder if you will ever get it. 

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. We have all been there. Those skills that are just out of reach, and take sometimes months even years to master. Seriously, I bet if you go ask your coach or fellow classmates if there are moves that have been stubbornly out of reach for an extended period of time they will all nod their heads yes (and with enthusiasm). In aerial (and many other movement disciplines) we have this idea that skills must come overnight and if they don’t we are some sort of failure. I cannot tell you how long it took me to land a back balance on lyra. I used to be so embarrassed I could do all these cool lyra splits and tricks, but balancing on my back was where my body drew the line. I have learned a few things about ways to improve the chances of landing a skill over the years of being both student and teacher, and I hope by sharing them you will be one step closer to adding a new trick to your aerial skill book!

Top Rated Tips for your Aerial Journey:

  1. Take a break from the skill: Sometimes when you leave a skill for a few weeks or even months it gives our brain time to think through it with more precision. It also allows us to focus on skills we can land, which will increase overall confidence on our apparatus. Taking a break will also provide your body with a chance to recover and rest. Many times it is hard to perfect a new skill when our body is tired and fatigued. Coming at the move with a fresh mind and body can give you the opportunity to approach the move with a better eye for detail on what needs to be done to land it. 
  1. Cross train: Maybe you need more core strength than you currently have to land a certain skill. Or you are not engaging the right muscle groups. Cross training (for example strength conditioning and flexibility training) can help you build up the foundational stability and muscle groups you might be lacking to complete a skill. Cross-training can make you stronger and safer in the air in general so it is highly recommended regardless of skill level!
  1. Take a class with a different coach: When I was first learning lyra and could not get my back balance to save my life. My coach at the time could not provide me with new cues to be able to accomplish the skill (disclaimer: my coach was great but they are human and do not know everything!). On a whim I took a class with a new coach, and they provided me with one simple cue and adjustment that I had never learned before and BAM I was able to do a back balance (AFTER TWO YEARS OF TRYING). Learning from multiple coaches can give you a fresh perspective on an old move, and open your brain to a new way of approaching a skill. 
  1. If possible try the skill on a different apparatus: Not all moves can be translated between multiple apparatuses, but there are many that can be. Not getting a monkey roll on a hard apparatus? Maybe try it on a soft apparatus like sling to start gaining confidence and a baseline understanding of the roll. Afraid of doing a salto dive on lyra? Hop on silks and wrap yourself in tight and start saltoing your heart out (with control of course). The feeling of a move will differ between apparatuses, but getting a feel for a move on an apparatus you are a bit more comfortable on first can prepare your body for learning and landing it on the original apparatus you were taught the skill on. 

Moral of the story: sometimes learning a new skill can be a long and challenging road. All aerialists have a move that took them longer than expected to learn, again just ask one and I’m sure they will have a story to tell. I hope these tips help you along your journey, and that you know that whether or not you land the skill now or in ten years (or maybe never) it does not diminish your worth as an aerialist. The tricks we do are hard work, and you are worthy for just showing up and trying!

With so much love, 

Casandra ♥️