Circus is an art form (which means that nothing is 100% predictable) and that’s why it is exciting to watch! You never know what is going to happen. My good friend the German wheel is particularly volatile. Every trick requires a certain range of speed/power to work, and the amount of speed generated by any movement is affected by literally hundreds of factors ranging from floor type, to the previously executed trick. Now the better/more comfortable you get with your wheel, the wider that range becomes. However even tricks you have nailed an infinite number of times can suddenly get weird and not work the way you want them to. I was reminded of this fact in a recent performance.
At one pivotal moment in the act, I stand on top of the wheel. Now this is one of those glorious tricks that looks really tough but is actually quite easy, and very safe. I have literally done it with my eyes closed. It was a mix of: a new floor, a little wobble I found somewhere, and the fact that I was coming from a different trick than normal. For whatever reason I thought I was too fast and over slowed the wheel resulting in me not having enough speed. So now I find myself in the pinnacle of my music knowing I am not going to make it to the top of the wheel. In a last ditch effort I extend my hand out hoping to tip the scales, no dice 🙁 The wheel is going backwards and I am essentially lying on top. Now in this split second you don’t really have time to think, but my options were essentially two fold: 1, jump down and try and make a cool guy pose to redeem the moment. Or 2, do a different trick. Fortunately I have found myself in this situation before (while training without a spotter) so I have figured out another trick that works from this position. It wasn’t ideal but I was able to save the moment and not have to completely bail, which is always nice. This brings me to my main point: always have an “exit strategy”!
Take the time to troubleshoot your trick. You can either do this as you’re training a new move or after you’re already comfortable doing it, depending on a variety of things, including your access to a spotter and your mental state. Sometimes it is helpful to train the trick the way it’s supposed to work so you don’t develop bad habits; other times I have preferred to practice my exit strategies earlier so I could train by myself or to help deal with a particular fear. Either way I highly recommend you have a plan for EVERY trick because given enough time, something is going to go wrong, and the more prepared you can be for those eventualities the better and safer you are going to be. Have fun with it, nothing inspires creativity more that the drive for self-preservation.