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Technique Tip: Cross-Back Straddle

Updated: Mar 4

When it comes to aerial skills, a handful tend to be shared 'nemesis' skills - one being Cross-Back Straddle. ​ It's possible that inverting within other skills is doable, but once foot locks are on with the X on your back, it feels almost impossible to get over! ​

If that's you, here's the good news: with a few simple changes and time practicing some exercises on the ground, I'm confident you can turn those Cross-Back blues into successful moves!

If you're an aerial teacher, a crucial part of teaching is figuring out why a student struggles with a skill. This tip helps you diagnose the issue and provides possible tweaks and ground exercises to make things easier for your students.

Mistake #1 - Legs are turned in - To invert into a straddle, legs must be externally rotated from your hips. Internally rotated legs in this skill places pressure on the lower back, making it nearly impossible to invert.

Mistake #2 - Closing your straddle - The closer your legs are, the tighter the X is on your back. Wide legs in a straddle are key! Achieving this requires flexibility of the adductors (inner thighs) and strength of your abductors (outer thighs/glutes).

Mistake #3 - Not pulling up - To invert, most aerialists will need to pull up to ease some of the tension from the X. It's common for aerialists to reach their hands too high without adequate pull-up power. Place your hands a few inches above head height as you pull up and press silks forward to invert. Mistake #4 - Over Straddling - Aim for a straight line from heel to heel by pressing your feet away and into your foot locks as you invert. If feet wander towards shoulders it becomes a precarious position. The X ends very high on the back making it difficult to get out of, hair can get stuck and so can the aerialist!

Ok what if you understand the tips but your body still can't seem to find the right position? Sometimes, simply stretching in a straddle isn't enough – you've got to add some dynamic movements and exercises to see real improvement. I recommend incorporating these floor-bound exercises into your warm-up or even while you're between turns in class!

Side Leg Kicks (15x each side): Start lying on your side with your legs slightly in front of your torso. Rotate your legs outward as you lift your top leg up. Lower it down with control.

Reverse Crunches (10x): Lie on your back with your legs extended above your hips. Draw your abs in as you curl your tailbone off the floor. Lower down with control. To make it easier, bend your knees – a small lift is still effective! Straddle Roll Overs (5-8x): Remain lying on your back, lower your legs as much as possible without letting your lower back lift off the mat – that's your control point. Turn out your legs into a straddle, draw your abs in to lift your legs overhead, pause for a moment and lower down with control. Bring your legs together and repeat. Try not to let your head lift off the mat throughout. For an extra challenge, reach your arms overhead. Ready - set - give it a go!

P.S. If sharing your passion for aerial excites you, we've just opened the doors for our Virtual Level One teacher training course! Our program equips you to confidently lead classes focusing on safety and technique. Check out the details and apply here - applications are open through March 22nd.


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