Lock in your feet
When anyone first starts doing German wheel, the first skill you have to master (aside from figuring out how to breath while upside down 🙂 is how to lock your feet in. There are lots of counter-intuitive elements of German Wheel but this is the first you will have the pleasure of battling with. For most of us it will feel natural to curl our toes upwards, turning our foot into a fantastic little hook that you can hang from and you know what, you’re right! However my dear friends, I’m here to tell you that there is a better way.
If one has ones foot deep into the belt (over your laces, up against your ankle) one can turn the foot to the side and then point it down such that it actually curls around the board. Although initially unnerving, this is a vastly superior grip for at least 2 reasons. 1. By doing this, your foot will slip less allowing you to do more tricks before you have to readjust your feet. When you use the hook method and roll around, the pressure changes from your sole (when you’re standing) to the roof of your foot (when you’re hanging). Every time you transition to/from being upside down, the belt will slip, thus more readjustment. 2. When you are hanging from the belts, all you can do is pull. However when your feet are pointed around the board, you can push and pull from the connection. For a basic cartwheel it makes little difference, however once you start learning more advanced tricks, like freehand or any turning/one foot tricks, you will NEED that push and pull.
Now a little discomfort with this foot position is very normal, but have no fear, over time your feet will get a little callus on the top (I call it my wheel bite) and the belts will be much less annoying. While you are training if you find the discomfort unbearable or if your feet are rubbed raw, an extra pair of socks or (I much prefer) a bandaid or anything that puts an extra layer of something between your foot and the belts. If it really is hurting, taking a break might not be a bad idea. If the sole of your shoe is too thin you may notice a lot of pain on the sole of your foot. Be careful not to bruise the bottom of your foot because that is a pain that is quite hard to “work through”. In fact the more you do it at that point the worse it gets. I recommend stopping then and letting yourself heal, please. 🙂 It is likely to happen at least once, but if you find it to be a reoccurring issue, it’s probably time for a new pair of wheel shoes–maybe one with a stiffer sole. If you really want to keep working with that particular shoe try adding an insole or anything to help protect your delicate soul. 🙂