Unless you’re quite fortunate, you will have to train by yourself. It is never the best idea (no one can hear you scream…) however, if you can’t find a training partner, at least make sure there is be someone else in the space. Now that we’re safe and it’s just you and the wheel, what do you do?
Break your tricks down. Most wheel elements are amalgamations of other movements that you can boil down to work pieces safely. I’ll give an easy example: when people are training up to their free seat forward, they can easily and safely work on these two elements.
Rocking on the boards. Stand so your feet are facing in the same direction and your hips are parallel with the bars running between the hoops; then rock the wheel forwards and backwards. As it gets higher you will be able to grab the hoops in front of you. When you catch in front, I want you to grab the hoops where they meet the bar. Now for the tricky part, I want you to grab the hoops behind you without looking at them. You should eventually be rocking back and forth catching the hoops in front and then behind yourself. Getting very comfortable with this position is super useful. See how high you can get the wheel to roll, just be careful not to go all the way over. If you do find yourself rocking too high (past the tipping point where the wheel will do another rotation) let your feet come down to the ground. Don’t go down with the ship. 🙂
Rocking on the bar. Take either of the bars running between the hoops and roll it so that it is at the lowest point in the circle, then sit on it. You can be facing either way. Keep your legs straight and your feet together. Using your hands, push down on the hoops in front of you and then behind you (careful not to crush your fingers), alternating so that the wheel starts rocking higher and higher. You want to always remain sitting up as if you were in a chair. Make sure you keep your feet together so you don’t roll them over, and keep your hands open at the bottom so you don’t crush your fingers. 🙂 The first goal is to be able to rock high enough to come up to standing without bending your legs.
These are just two examples of ways to work towards one trick. You can use these methods for any German wheel trick you’re doing. Find the smaller components and break those scary tricks down. Power, balance, speed, and technique are crucial components for any element in German wheel. So take that trick you still need a spotter for, take the essential pieces, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find a way to work on them by yourself. I know there are some people out there who, for whatever reason, think these small steps don’t help or that working like this is “failing”, but until you can step up to any wheel and rock either of these elements easily and safely up to, stalling, and beyond the tipping point, your work is not done. Take the time to break your tricks down and work on the little pieces—It will only make you a better wheeler.