By Penelope Knowles & Don Dinh
In previous articles, we discussed the correct way to execute a turn around swing. This month, we will build off of the turnaround swing and analyze a Half Turn. The half-turn is one of the fundamental building blocks of flying trapeze. Without mastery of the half-turn, athletes will have a very difficult time returning to the board after every catch. It is often considered one of the core skills. It is wise for coaches and their athletes to spend as much time as possible fine-tuning the nuances of the half-turn, for it will pay off highly in the long run. If an athlete cannot do a clean half-turn, especially out of lines, the odds will be against them when they attempt to learn a proper return from a catch. Some performers mask their inadequacies by opting to do Angel Returns, Birdie Returns, Hands-to-Legs, etc, instead of spending time to fix the half-turn technique. Although these have their place, often, they cannot be paired with much more difficult skills. One does not often see a double somersault catch or a full-twisting layout, paired with an angel-return. Mastery of the half-turn is also a requirement for flyers who wish to learn a Pirouette eventually.
As implied, the only prerequisite for learning a half turn is to have a strong turnaround swing.
Proper Execution of the skill:
After completing all of the kicks in the turnaround swing, the flyer will prepare for the half turn skill. The athlete will hollow (figure A), sweep back hard (figure B), and then seven (figure C). Instead of holding on and continuing the swing after reaching the seven, the athlete will alternatively ascend into the seven position (figure C), press down and off of the bar (figure C), release his grip, and turn his body while “painting a rainbow” over his head with his arms (figure D). If the student is looking to take the trick out of safety lines, the flyer will then pause mid-air and present their hands to the catch trap before spotting the net and then turning to his back.
Access to a trampoline is one of the methods for learning this skill.
Drill 1: Half-Twisting Airplane
Drill 2: Full-Twisting Airplane
Drill 3: Cat Twist
1. Wind-milling arms around the side (Figure A): If the athlete is coming off the bar crooked, it is likely that the he did not reach up enough towards the sky with his arms. This can directly affect the execution and catch. See Figure 1d. Athletes should try to exaggerate the rainbow, especially while they are in safety-lines, so at the very least students do not get tangled in the safety-ropes. But the primary purpose of "painting a rainbow" serves to properly enforce the performer's lines & angle for the catch.
2. Looking down too much (Figure B): As with many other tricks, looking down too much or too early after letting go of the bar can create an uncomfortable catch or landing position. This shall also decrease the likelihood of making a smooth catch, which consequently may negatively affect the chances of a successful-return.
3. Turning too early when trying to twist to the net: When taking this skill out of safety lines, the athlete must complete the half turn, pause towards the catch trap, spot the net, and then do one additional half-twist. If the flyer tries to do the full-twist immediately to the net upon the release, he will often land in a seated position as the correct angle cannot be accomplished with a lack of pausing and spotting the catch trap. This will prevent the student from landing successfully. Another reason why this sometimes happens, the flyer may not have swept back strongly enough before the release. The performer's mind may have been too concerned about the twist, and consequently rushed the sweep/break, or cut it short. Remember, the number "1" comes before the number "2", "2" comes before "3", and so on and so forth. A common error in ALL sports, is the pupil will concern themselves with Step 3, even while they should still be devoting their entire attention to doing Step 2 correctly.
4. Sweeping/Breaking too early: Lastly, sweeping back too early during the "break motion" will cause the athlete to gain the momentum at the wrong time and travel the skill. This makes it more likely for the flyer and catcher to collide.