Let Your Freehand Fly
In German wheel anytime you do a trick in Straight-line (or Spiral) without your hands, it is called a “freehand” trick because you are free from having to use your hands :). The most common freehand trick people think about is a freehand cartwheel, where the gymnast is standing sideways inside the wheel and basically just stays in the center while the wheel rolls around. But that is not the only freehand trick, and it is definitely not the first one you will want to learn. So here is a little guide to starting on your journey towards your first freehand…
Pushup backwards into freehand. So we are going to assume you are comfortable doing pushups forwards and backwards, and there is no more danger of your feet falling out. If you have no idea what I am talking about, then you better get yourself into one of my wheel classes. 😉 I will be assuming you don’t have a coach, but that’s okay, this is a pretty safe progression to work by yourself. Okay, so here is what you are going to do: in the middle of your pushup backwards, when you are hanging perfectly upside down and there is no weight pulling or pushing on your hands, (it should be right when the hoop handles are touching the ground), you are going to let go. Just take your hands a couple of inches away from the handlebar for a moment then as the wheel continues to move, your hands will ultimately “fall” back to the handlebar. From there, just hold on and ride the wheel back up. Now do that until your feet hurt too much, take a break then do a few more. J Each time, try to keep your hands off a little longer than the time before.
Here are some technical things to be watching for: 1. Keep your legs straight! If your front leg bends, your rate of success will drop to around 5%, so fight to keep your front leg straight. Your front leg is a pillar and your back leg is your anchor and it is that push and pull that holds you up. 2. Never pull your chest up! If when you let go you are swinging away from the bar (it’s likely that you are also letting go too early) you will swing right back down to it. When you let go, your upper body shouldn’t move anywhere, it should just stay put. This seems to be a magic statement for some people: “connect your ribs and your hips”. 3. Finally, keep your eyes on the handle that your hands are about to grab. Looking at the handle will keep you from dropping your chest and will orient you in the wheel.
Well wheelers, keep your chests up, and keep abusing those feet. If your feet are getting really beat up, look at what shoes you are wearing. Another little trick to help with the feet can be an extra pair of socks. A well placed Band-Aid can also be helpful. Anything that puts another layer of fabric between your skin and the belts will help the discomfort. If you are still struggling, take a video and send it my way, I’ll see if I can help. See you next week.