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Flexus

flexus schem1

Many flyers struggle to learn the Flexus. Reason being, it is likely to be the first trick that a student shall encounter that requires an open and a Twist at the same time. In all tricks prior, flyers generally learn to open for the catch, and then twist to their back.

By itself, Opening is quite easy to teach (think whip). Similarly, by itself, twisting is also easy to teach (think half-turn). But learning to open and twist simultaneously is a whole different game that requires a higher degree of coordination. That being said, Flexus can be learned by anyone who possesses a back-end whip and a turn-around. These are prerequisites to learning a Flexus.

In performing the Flexus, the athlete will execute a turn-around and instead of extending their legs over the platform, they will tuck their legs underneath the bar. When first learning the Flexus, it is recommended that the flyer go into “1st Position” or “Set Position”, similar to a set-whip or set-planche as seen in Figure A. This way, the flyer will be able to use the soles of their feet to immediately push into the “Final Position” or “Piked Position”, as seen in Figure B. The timing of the trick will still remain the same. The flyer will remain in the piked position for the majority of the swing. Emphasis must be made on keeping the toes pointed, legs straight, head tucked in, and eyes focused on the toes for the entirety of the trick. Figures E and F show the flyer beginning to open slowly. The Flexus is a very slow and smooth trick. Coaches must remind their students that moving too aggressively will hinder their progress here. Figure F shows the flyer slowly opening their body while twisting at the same time. Note that the open and twist occurs simultaneously. The eyes should remain focused on the toes and the legs should be straight during this entire step. Figure F shows that the twisting is performed by rotating the toes. Rotation should not be initiated at the shoulder, neck, or hip. Flyers should think of twisting their toes like a corkscrew as their legs unfold, as seen in Figure F. The athlete does not look for the catcher until the very end of the trick, as seen in Figure H.

Figures X, Y, and Z show some common mistakes in attempting to learn a Flexus. The most common mistake is looking backwards when releasing, as seen in Figure X. Looking backwards encourages arching of the body when the release is made. As a rule of thumb, it is impossible to twist while in an arched position. Another common mistake is opening too largely or too quickly. This can be seen from Figure Y; the illustration here shows the flyer in a reverse-planche. In this scenario, the flyer should emphasize more twisting and less opening. When this happens, coaches should consider saying “twist” instead of saying “open” for the release. The flyer should think of the maneuver as a simultaneous open AND twist, instead of open THEN twist. Figure Z shows the flyer attempting to open and twist with legs bent, another common mistake. Legs must remain straight and tight, and toes must remain pointed. It is very difficult to perform a Flexus in a crunched position.

flexus schem2

Flexus can take many attempts to be successful. However, most people find that once they perform it correctly once or twice, the feeling clicks and stays with them; the flyer will be able to perform it correctly most times thereafter.

The Flexus doesn’t get a whole lot of attention from flyers and coaches and is often skipped. This is because it takes lots of time to learn, yet it doesn’t have any fancy flips. Due to this, the Flexus has a reputation for being unnecessarily difficult, and having a low reward-to-effort ratio. But when performed cleanly, the Flexus is one of the most graceful and eye-pleasing tricks that exists in Flying Trapeze today. Coaches who skip teaching the Flexus may be robbing their students of a beautiful trick. Eventually, there is also the possibility of learning a Flexus-return one the traditional Flexus has been mastered; adding variety to the athlete’s flying repertoire.