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  • Writer's pictureTheo

How to Aerial


Aerial
Theo doing in aerial on Bali

All the information about what to keep in mind while starting to learn how to aerial.


I'm a direct dude and I don't like wasting time. No big intro or reasons why you should practice the Aerial. You searched for this info, so here it is. This table shows you all the info in a quick overview. The detailed info follow right afterwards.


Level of difficulty?

3 (1-10)

Requirements?

solid cartwheel

Any tools needed?

No

Where to practice?

Garden, beach, gym

Is it dangerous?

Quite easy and save to practice

How long does it take?

It's possible to learn it in one session (realistic is 4 weeks)

Which side to chose?

Which ever feels better to you

What should I wear?

Comfortable sports clothes

Can I start the aerial with no flips background?

Yes, aerial is beginner friendly


What does an aerial look like?


How difficult is it to learn aerial?

The aerial is one of the easiest flips one can learn. On a scale from 1-10 (10 being super difficult) I would put the aerial between, 2-4 depending on your flexibility. As a comparison, a backflip would be 6. The butterfly kick would be 1-3. A macaco would also be 2-4.


What do I need to know before?

Requirements:

- solid cartwheel

- cartwheel on one hand

- cartwheel on one hand (the other one) that's it.


Advanced requirement that make it much easier and let your aerial look more beautiful:

- front splits

- Butterfly kick (if you don't know what a butterfly kick is, check out my tutorial here)


How long does it take to learn an aerial?

I had students who learned it on one session. Matthew Smith is one of them. He learned how to aerial in one session. I even met people on the beach, who asked for advice and landed an aerial the same day. Important to mention is that these people covered all the requirements and only needed some technical advice to unlock the flip. It's a different game if you start at zero with no background knowledge of movement, gymnastics, yoga, capoeira, handstands, breakdance or anything like that. It takes 4 weeks on average to learn how to aerial if you are a bloody beginner. Keep in mind that we talk about landing the flip with correct technical execution. We are not talking about the cleanest aerial you have ever seen. If you work on it daily for about 20 minutes and stick to a training schedule, I'm convinced you will be able to aerial in one month. Did you know you can practice aerials with my 4 weeks training program in my movement app? Try it out here!





Do I need a tools to learn how to aerial?

No. The best way to learn an aerial is without any tools. It's good at one point to have a spotter, but it's not necessary. A spotter is standing next to the practitioner. Once the practitioner is launching for the aerial attempt, the spotter holds on to the hips of the practitioner and helps to create momentum. Mind that the spotter should be knowing what he is doing. A spotter only comes into action when the practitioner already knows how to aerial, but can't get enough momentum and hight to make it all around without touching the floor with the hands.


Where can I practice aerial?

The best place to practice the aerial is outdoors. You want to have lots of space and a soft floor. Your garden, the beach or also a gym can be a good place to practice. Don't practice in places where you can hit others or against obstacles. Especially in the beginning you want to have no distractions or need to mind your environment. Once you unlocked the aerial you can perform it more or less everywhere. Just make sure nothing comes in your way.


Is it dangerous to practice aerial?

Accidents happen. That's part of life and especially when we practice new physical skills. But to take your fear: the aerial is one of the safest flips to learn. Why? You can slowly progress from just circling around yourself on the floor to flying through the air. Even if you black out or realise you won't make it mid air, you can always reach for the floor with your hands and do a cartwheel. There is no moment that has potential to make you fall on your neck or back. Your shoulders can't dislocate and your legs are not likely to break. It is a really safe move that is performed by little girls in gymnastics. Be mindful about muscle soreness though. If you start working on the aerial and do a couple of attempts, your body will react to it. It's a new movement and your legs might get sore.


Which side do I chose?

It's always best to be able to perform tricks on both sides. Pick which side feels more natural to cartwheel. It's likely that you will cartwheel with your left hand down first, if you are right handed. But just try out both sides and see what works best for you.


How do I start?

Start by getting really comfortable and solid with your cartwheels. An aerial is a cartwheel with airtime. If the cartwheel is not in your repertoire, start with the low cartwheel circle starting in a squat. In my app I pick you up at which ever level you're on and show you how to progress to the cartwheel in now time.

Once the cartwheel is no problem any more, work on these different aspects:

- speed

- staying on one spot

- single arm cartwheel

- single arm cartwheel other hand

- pike the hips a bit


Speed: You have to be quick. If you want to land an aerial with no hands touching the floor you need to bring your legs around in one second or even less. The more speed you can generate in the launch, the higher you will be during air time and the easier the landing gonna be.


Staying on one spot: A common mistake is to travel too far. The energy needs to go up, not forward. If you stay on one spot, your legs can travel around your upper body much quicker than if your upper body travels forward.


Single arm cartwheel:

This exercise will teach you 2 things. Airtime during the launch when you use the arm that comes to the floor second during a cartwheel. Your launch will be powerful and you just use the second arm to support your landing. If you use the other arm it will teach you airtime during the landing. By placing your first hand down, but keeping your second arm in the air you can push into a one handed round off. This gives you a feeling what the landing of an aerial feels like.


Piking the hips:

That's one of the nuggets in this article. If you bring your legs over your head in one line, it takes much more time compared to a piked hips version. If you pike your hips, your legs will be a bit in front of your upper body (belly side).You can bring them around much faster in that angle. If you don't know what a piked hip angle looks like, check my short instagram tutorial again.


What should I wear?

I'm promoting Brutal Buddha gear. The pants are the best I found. If you look for shorts/pants, that feel comfy, make sure everything stays in place and you are not limited with your moves, check them out.


Look what my students are doing!

Most often we only see the final product of people who have put in the work and are successful now. I want to show you the progress of getting there. Here are some clips of students of mine who are practicing with my app, to unlock the aerial.


Common mistakes

The road to success is not linear. It's a bumpy road and we have to take extra rounds every now and then. To save time I'm gonna point out the most common mistakes.

- the butterfly problem

- the landing leg short cut

- the wrong angle

- up not forward


There is an entire section about common mistakes in my app, where I explain these problems in detail. For now, let's have a look at them shortly.


The butterfly problem:

The aerial and the butterfly kick are quite similar. The differences are found in the set up and the angle of the upper body. As beginners it's likely that we escape into a butterfly kick, because we can't and don't want to go upside down yet. Working on a butterfly kick can even be a regression of the aerial. It's not a problem. It's just a mistake, when you actually want to aerial, but subconsciously escape into a butterfly kick all the tim.


The landing leg shot cut:

In the beginning you probably won't be able to put enough energy and momentum in the aerial combined with the right technique. Everything is still a bit uncomfortable and you just want to land safely. The transition from cartwheel to aerial is quite challenging. The result is a shortcut in the landing. Beginners pull their landing leg down in front of their belly, to reach for the floor and land quickly. It's normal, but actually kills speed and momentum. Focus on keeping the legs open and land sideways, same way as you started.


The wrong angle:

There is no "wrong". Everyone has their own style in flipping. But there are ways to make things easier. The wrong starting angle makes it harder to bring the legs around with speed and momentum. If you start in a straight forward motion, you will have to bring your legs all over your head and shoulders. That's a much longer way than going a bit in front of your belly. What was wrong one bullet point before, is now the goal. You want to take a shortcut. If you start sideways and not forward, you can pike your hips a bit while being upside down. This will make it much easier to get all the way around without using your hands to support yourself on the floor.


Up not forward:

If you click through the progressions of my 4 week aerial training program you come across the exercise "cartwheel staying in one place". It's important to practice this type of cartwheel as it mimics the motion of the aerial. Many people get it wrong, cause they run up and jump forward while attempting an aerial. It's not about making distance, it's about jumping high and rotating quick.



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