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Technique Tip: Stuck in the silks?

Updated: Mar 18

Picture yourself in an aerial class scenario: a fellow peer finds themselves caught mid-air, struggling to break free from a Belay position. Panic ripples through the class as it becomes apparent that their shirt and hair are tangled, making it difficult to release themselves. Despite their efforts, they remain stuck.

A prepared teacher would swoop in, taking the steps needed to bring the student down safely. But if the teacher is not prepared, things can get chaotic and scary really quickly.

So, how do we handle these situations while keeping everyone safe? I've got a handy four-step process that I've used time and time again to help students out. See below for a step-by-step video and breakdown.

STEP 1 - ASSESS An aerialist is stuck or tangled mid-air. What do you do? Quickly assess how they are stuck and what you'll need to help them. Do your best to stay calm and solution-oriented.


If the aerialist is at a reachable height, or if they can reach the tail themselves, the tail can set you free! Typically following the tail is the best path out of the wrap or the tangled point.


If following the tail didn't do the trick, the aerialist will need to get higher than their locked/tangled point. This may mean putting a foot lock on if a free silk is available, resting for a moment and doing a pull-up, standing on someone's shoulders, stacking mats or getting a ladder.


Follow your studio's emergency safety plan if all else fails. At Aerial Physique, we utilize a pulley system in our emergency plan. One person puts gloves with grips on and pulls down on the rope while the other person unclips the carabiner, then two people lower the aerialist down to the mat safely. If you don't have a pulley system, you'd need a scissor lift or ladder that reaches the height of your apparatus.

If you're a studio owner or teacher, I highly encourage 'rehearsing' stuck scenarios and your plan of action. That way, when it happens, it helps to lessen panic, a possibly traumatic experience and/or injury for the aerialist. Plus, teachers and staff are equipped to take confident action quickly.

To avoid tangled mishaps in the first place, it's important to always practice new skills low to the mat. Make sure you or your students are at a reachable height whenever possible (depending on the skill). For those just-in-case scenarios, have a ladder or another way of reaching an aerialist quickly accessible. ✨Prioritizing safety is vital, especially in roles like studio ownership, teaching aerial and training on your own rig. Our ​teacher training program​ highlights the importance of proactive safety measures, ensuring you're always prepared for any situation that may arise.

If you're eager to refine your skills as a confident aerial instructor, focusing on safety, skill progression and effective class management, we've got just the thing for you. Our Level One course, available virtually, is currently accepting applications until Friday, March 22nd. Don't miss out—​click here for more information​ and to secure your spot.


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