I'll admit, the older I get the less enthusiastic I am about drops. Possibly you can relate?
Real talk ... my body feels less resilient than it did a few years ago, I have a tendency to clench my jaw during drops which leads to a headache and some days I skip them altogether. If you too find yourself fearful or not as enthusiastic about drops know that it's 100% valid!
A few things that have helped me and my students:
✔️ Walk it down several times so you fully understand the pathway, know how much height is required and feel more confident before going for the real deal.
✔️ Check your technique and overall body awareness mid-air. Sometimes we learn drops too soon. Core stability, the ability to hold your body in one piece with static strength, neck alignment and understanding of what is your 'safety' are all vital factors.
✔️ Crash mats are a must, while the goal is to never have to use them, knowing that it's there can make you feel better mentally and it's there to protect you in the absolute worst-case scenario. And yes, I highly recommend crash mats for not only classes but student showcases and competitions as well. Using a mat does not make you any less of an aerialist.
✔️Inhale and fully exhale at the start of the drop to avoid clenching your jaw (like me) and to calm your nervous system.
✔️ I don't advise learning drops solo - make sure there are a set of eyes on you to triple-check your wrap is correct and you have plenty of height.
✔️ If drops aren't for you on any specific day for an array of reasons (you're on your period, you're mentally or physically exhausted, you're feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety) it's always better to honor how you're feeling and play it safe. With that being said, if you’re in a professional performance setting I understand this may not be fully possible. Is there a way you can modify a skill or switch it out for something else that's less demanding?
✔️ Try not to get upset at yourself for being afraid. It's easy to get down on ourselves in class and think 'ugh, everyone else is doing it, what's wrong with me!? why can't I just do it!?' Absolutely nothing is wrong with you - aerial is difficult and purposely falling from the ceiling isn't exactly what our nervous system is naturally wired to do! Each of us has our own individual tolerance for different skills which may ebb and flow and that's ok!
✔️ Cars and planes definitely affect my enthusiasm for drops. I'm one of those people that can easily feel queasy from motion sickness. My body typically needs a day or so to get recalibrated after a long trip before I go for the big flippy dippy stuff in the air. In addition, being on a plane definitely gives me 'airplane ear' sometimes for several hours after I've landed which can affect my equilibrium. Something to be mindful of when it comes to aerial skills.
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