Rock the Wheel, Like a Hurricane
Rocking is one of the most basic movements in the wheel and in its various forms, is a building block for most tricks in a German wheel. Because it is not a trick, it is often forgotten, don’t make that mistake! Being comfortable rocking in the wheel will strengthen all of your other skills and make more dynamic tricks much less scary. This is something that you can safely practice by yourself even if you are in a wheel that is too big for you.
Side stand rocking. This is the most basic form I can think of. You should be in position for a cartwheel, but your feet are out of the belts. Just rock the wheel from side to side catching the bar at the peak of each rock. Here you can play with the mechanics of the wheel. Try to find the suspension between the changes in direction. How high can you rock? Try to find ease in the movement. You don’t need to exhaust yourself to get more power, just shift your weight and let the wheel do the work. Once you can rock high enough, can you take your feet off the board so you are hanging for a second then put them back on? As you get more comfortable, play a bit. If you can rock and smile at the same time, I’ll give you bonus points.
Forward facing rocking. This is the most common form of rocking, and arguably the most practical. You stand on the boards so your shoulders are parallel with the bars, and once again, you are out of the belts. When you catch in front, catch on the hoops next to the bar, then it is a blind catch behind yourself. Play with ease, suspension, and height. If you are worried about going too high, place your wheel close enough to a wall so that if you are going to go over you will hit the wall instead. Remember to keep your chest up when catching behind yourself. As you get comfortable with that I really want you to focus on your arms. Catching with straight arms is the best way to acquire more height. You know why? Well I’ll tell you! When rocking, your arms most directly affect where your body is in relation to the rest of the wheel. When you bend your arms, your body is shifting against the direction that the rest of the wheel is traveling, thus slowing it down. By keeping your arm straight, you are forcing your body to lean with the wheel, thus giving you more height.
Almost every class I teach, there will be a lonely wheel sitting all by itself and I see hungry eyed students wanting more time in a wheel but unsure of what to do by themselves, especially if it is too big for them. Well here is your answer, people; Rock on! Rock till you can’t rock no more!