Safety in Acro

Safety in Acro

Acro involves risk.

I’ve seen a lot of talk about safety in acro on social media over the past few days, and I appreciate the conversation so much. Partner acrobatics involves taking certain risks, and learning to make good decisions based on our ability to assess ourselves and our partners is central to keeping training and play situations safe. I’ve progressed slowly over the past 8 years because I’ve always been concerned about someone getting hurt and wanted 100% certainty that I know my role to keep it safe.

It’s important that as a community, we keep the conversation about safety in acro focused on personal responsibility and on learning not only the basing and flying skills, but on spotting techniques that make acro as safe as possible. When a fall or an injury happens, it’s equally important to learn as much as possible from the experience by asking questions after any medical concerns have been addressed.

Christine and I jumped to standing hand to hand over concrete in this photo. We’ve done it many times in shows and for photo/video shoots. We have no doubt that we will hit it and dismount safely because we’ve trained a number of entries and exits and we have worked together long enough to know how the other will react. Our worst case scenario is slow, safe cartwheel to the ground if something feels off.

We perform skills like Icarian Games, lifts, and whips that we have trained with coaches and spotters, keep calibrated over a significant period of time, and that we have learned to bail from if something feels off. There are plenty of skills that we would like to perform once they are ready, meaning we both feel very confident we can either land the skill or bail safely. For example, we land 9 out of 10 chair pop to foot to foot with cage spotting (meaning spotters ready to catch rather than holding on. It’s a graduated spot from arm holding.) Until we are consistently 10 for 10 for a period of weeks, we won’t even train it without spotters. The day is coming but we aren’t in a hurry. One badly missed trick means rebuilding trust at best and recovery time from injury at worst.

Even though we were hiking and sightseeing, we still warmed up our handstands and L-Base h2h despite the fact that we are confident in the skills and can embody it cold.

Acro involves risk. What makes it dangerous is inaccurate assessment of self or partner and lack of preparatory training in partnership.

Here are a few ideas to minimize risk in acro:

  • Warm up solo
  • Warm up together on skills that are similar but easier than your goal skills
  • Choose skills that are appropriate for the acrobats and the environment.
  • Know your limits of strength and endurance and communicate them to your partners.
  • Know when to call it a day, don’t keep training material that your body or your partner’s is too tired to embody. Assess yourself and partner to determine when they are strong and able to keep going, or exhausted and need to stop.
  • Similarly, high-level level acro training isn’t like strength training: don’t go to failure. End a session when fatigue starts to set in. Technical execution goes when strength goes.
  • Know when to say no or not yet, and identify steps to your skill goal.

 

Have more to add to the list? Please continue the conversation in the comments below!

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