Have you ever heard a coach tell you to 'pike' mid-air, but you're not entirely sure what that means? If so, I've gotcha! It took me quite a while to fully understand what piking is in the air and why it's essential.
'Pike' is a gymnastics term meaning the body is bent forward at the waist with the legs kept straight.
Piking is imperative for some forward-falling drops, especially if they involve a change of direction from front to side. In addition, skills that call for a front flip or rotation followed by quickly catching the tails - piking is an absolute must.
Skills where you'd want to avoid piking include side falling skills like Star and Windmill, aka Wheel down - you want to aim to keep the front of your hips flat (not piked) with legs in a wide straddle.
So how does one actually go about learning how to pike mid-air? This tip goes over exactly that! See below for a video breakdown.
From my experience, the best way to learn how to pike mid-air is to practice the hammock knot drill. Invert into a straddle, hook a knee, climb up and pass shoulders to the front (for a more male-friendly version, hook a knee on each silk and then climb up). Make sure the tail is to the side and not between your legs to avoid it going over your face when dropping.
Release both hands at the same time and think about keeping your legs in the same place as your torso folds forward and arms open to the side. If you're finding it difficult to stop yourself upside down, have someone spot you be gently pressing down on your ankles as you fold forward.
Keep in mind, this is a drill, and it's not the intention to stop upside down in drops, but rather teach your body how to slow yourself down.
For smooth and safely executed drops, the goal is for you to be in control of the drop. The drop shouldn't be in control of you.
If you find yourself letting go, closing your eyes and hoping for the best, that's a sign your body doesn't fully understand the mechanics of the drop and you haven't yet gained the technique and body awareness to control where you're going mid-air. Working on gradual progressions with a trained coach is key.
Interested in learning more about skill breakdowns and progressions?
Join us for teacher training! The virtual version of our program is open for applications and enrollment through Friday, November 4th - click here for all the details.