Cutaway half is most likely the first trick students shall learn on the Trapeze involving a flip with any sort of twist. Before learning the cutaway half, the flyer should have very good cutaway with no twist. The cutaway-half begins just like the standard cutaway, in that the turn around, set, and break are similar. The big difference occurs during the release of the bar. At the release, the flyer shall perform a 180 degree twist (or half twist) to catch with hands. Due to the added half twist, when performed correctly, the cutaway half allows the flyer to see their landing and their catcher, whereas the standard cutaway with no twist is mostly a blind trick (meaning, the net is blind from view until you hit it). Due to the blind aspect of the standard cutaway, most coaches only teach the cutaway as a progression or precursor to learning the cutaway half instead of a “be-all and end-all” trick.
When learning the cutaway half, coaches should emphasize the use of visual cues. The flyer should aim to keep the net in view as they release the bar. Once the release occurs, the flyer should continue to looking at the net as she spins 180 degrees. To the flyer, the earth will appear to slowly rotate 180 degrees around. After the complete half twist has occurred, the catcher will begin to come into view naturally. Flyers do not need to aggressively crank their twists around quickly; doing so will often get the flyer going nowhere. Instead, take your time whilst twisting smoothly is the key.
Common mistakes that are encountered are either twisting too early or twisting too late. The twisting should occur when the body reaches vertical, no sooner nor later. This is why it is important to fix your eyes on the net when you are first learning the cutaway-half. When students are first learning the trick, watching the net/ground will give them a real-time estimation when their body is at vertical. During the twist, the arms should be outstretched towards the ground. For a cutaway-half, there is no need to pull the arms in to speed up the twist. On the contrary, a good cutaway-half should appear slow, methodical, and steady. The trick itself is quite slow, and once the athlete gets the correct feeling once, they will find it easy to perform over and over again. That being said, it can take a few tries to get the feeling right. As in any trick, adding an extra twist to an existing trick gives it the sensation that the trick is now exponentially more difficult than it originally was. But athletes must remember that in trapeze, twisting is the easy part. It is find the correct angle of twist that is the difficult part. If the flyer initiates her twist at the correct spot and at the correct time, then the twist will be effortless. Some trial and error will be required when first learning this skill until the flyer begins to feel this sweet-spot every time thereafter.
Here is a good visualization drill to practice the cutaway-half at home: Stand up straight, keep your arms by your side, tuck your head downwards and stare at the floor. Now SLOWLY pivot your feet 180 degrees to face the opposite direction, all the while keeping your head tucked down and eyes on the ground. AFTER you have completed the turn, you can lift your head up and look forwards for catcher. This drill will train your brain and eyes on what to focus on in the air. Do this drill with an emphasis on trying to memorize what your eyes are seeing and how the floor is moving.
The cutaway-half is very similar to the Barani (straight) seen on the trampoline. Thus, those who possess a solid Barani will find the cutaway-half quite easy to perform, and vise-versa. If you have access to trampoline classes or a good trampoline coach, then learning a Barani is a good way to solidify and reinforce your cutaway-half.
Although the cutaway-half does not have the same exact feel as a Layout Full, I generally only teach a Full-twisting Layout to students once they have mastered a cutaway-half. Some coaches even view the Layout Full simply as a Layout with a half-twist, immediately followed with a cutaway-half ending. For that reason alone, it is generally a good idea to spend a significant time mastering the cutaway-half before moving onto the Layout-Full. Thus, time put into perfecting a cutaway-half is time well-spent. The cutaway-half is the first entry into the intermediate/advanced level of flying because it is the first skill to combine flipping and twisting. Flipping by itself is always quite easy, and twisting by itself is also pretty easy. When you start mixing them together, things get interesting very quickly.
There is actually one more way to perform the cutaway-half on the Trapeze. This method is to intentionally do the cutaway-half with a very late twist. This is akin to the Barani (piked) seen on the trampoline. However, most students find that this method is more difficult to grasp. So unless the flyer is a good trampolinist, I typically avoid mentioning this alternate method at all. In trapeze, there are many variations and methods to do a trick. Each method has its benefits and disadvantages. This is just a different way to go about the cutaway-half.