I’ve wanted to talk about hox dismounts, penny drops or what ever else you want to call them for a while now. Hox dismounts are a wonderful skill that always excite and audience but can also lead to other great skills, like half turn recatch or with a full twist, catch to dislock and the possibilities are endless and I’m sure, like with every skill there are plenty of new skills waiting to be found and invented.
The main reason I wanted to write about this, is I’ve seen a lot of instagram posts featuring this skill, and I’m also aware of some very serious injuries regarding this skill so I wanted to share some insight, on technique which will help you decide if you’re ready to learn this skill, teach this skill or even understand if your instructor is ready to teach this skill or teach you personally this skill. And this is by no means finger pointing or intended to make anyone feel downgraded but instead to help you make the right choice about it in a safe environment and I welcome any questions and will endeavour to answer all questions you may have. Look out for the “Pro Tips” in each section, they’re important key reminds you can ask yourself when training, learning and teaching.
Do your hox beats feel jolted? Do you get that feeling when in beats that they’re working against you? Are you a coach that see’s this and unsure on how to correct it?
All of my students will tell you, my approach to dynamics, the first step is to calm it right down and stop working too hard. A lot of the time dynamic skills are a waiting game. If you’re anxious about a skill you will likely work too fast and not give your brain time to catch up to the movement. With beats, hox or hanging, if you’re working too hard at both ends of the beat it will work against you. Allow gravity to bring you down and only work on the up.
For example with hanging beats, lift your legs, allow gravity to bring your body weight down, once you hit vertical again, beat back by driving your heels up behind you. If you beat too early (before vertical) this is where you feel the beat jolt and your timing will be off.
Secondly, there is such a thing as too many beats, if you’re psyching yourself up to do a skill with extra beats you will psych yourself out. One beat is usually enough for any dynamic skill on hoop. It will also help calm the hoop down, when you feel the hoop is erratic this will make you anxious and more likely to make silly mistakes. Give yourself the time and head space to complete each skill calmly and efficiently.
Pro tip - Don’t forget, if you’re intending to do an act at some point, you’ll want your energy and strength to last the entire act. Don’t add extra beats that will drain your resources. Work efficiently not harder.
When training hox dismounts, we need stepping stones, drills and a break down. So what are they?
Beats - Calm, efficient, floaty beats. You don’t need a bend back to gain high beats, lift your palms, open the should angle more if you need to compensate for a stiff back and look up.
Where are you looking?
When teaching this to students who have never done this skill before, before even thinking about letting go, I’ll ask them to pin point a spot on the wall in front them that they can see at the top of the beat. Next all ask them to see if they can spot higher than that. If they can, repeat step 2. And then finally can you consistently see that spot?
I recently saw a video of a student learning hox dismounts, face and body plummeting to the floor, coach 3 meters away. Just because a student is mentally ready to let go, doesn’t mean you should let go of your student.
Standing on the side of the hoop, hold the hoop with one hand and follow your students arm with the other. This will help you lift your student at the top should they need it but also subconsciously make them think about that lift.
When they do release, use the hand on the hoop to spot the lower back. If they over cook the dismount you can slow them down before hitting the crash mat.
The hand that is helping them lift can also move to their stomach, so that now you have both hands on your student who is in the air and guide them to floor.
Pro tip - Some students don’t know to expect the floor. Their spatial awareness may not be 100% and more than likely will buckle on landing, especially on a crash mat that isn’t a solid structure.
When you’re ready to release the dismount, before you beat remind yourself of what your spot on the wall is, when you see it flick your legs up to the ceiling, to create a beautiful arch shape. Keep lifting the hands up. Most people here will try to throw their feet down to the floor, killing the shape and stopping the momentum of the dismount and beat.
Instead think of a see-saw. One end has to go up for the other to go down. By keeping engaged and in tension, pushing the hands, chest and arms up will bring your feet down.
Get ready to land, the floor is there and it’s not going anywhere. Don’t buckle on landing, for a lot of people this is a natural reaction. Feet on the floor, absorb the landing into your thighs and quads, and lightly squat. In gymnastics, we were taught landings to think of landing sitting on a chair, arms forward, absorb the landing and stand back up. You’re effectively landing in a squat sit. You’re not drunk falling out of taxi, protect yourself.
Letting go too late is the key to big injury. If you’ve seen your spot and not let go, don’t try to catch up by releasing your hox anyway. You’re momentum after this point will be head and chest first down, fast and hard. Always see your spot and release straight away or gently end the beat back to hox.
Pro tip - Expect to land. The skill is not a the full skill until you’ve landed safely on your feet. So don’t relax until then.
Teachers - 5 good one’s doesn’t make any skill consistent, even after 20 or weeks of practice we can make silly mistakes. Stand close to your student ready to jump in at the last minute if needed. Even standing close to your students mat will help put them at ease.
Remember your students may only be training once a week, so they’re not going to be consistent after one session, and be the same the next week.
This is the hard part. We’re all eager to improve our skill set, learn the next thing. But ask yourself if, what you need for this skill is also ready. Are your hox beats consistent, do you really need those extra beats? How long have you been training hoop? Even if you’re a gymnast with 10 years experience, you’re not ready to do this skill in the early days of aerial.
Ask yourself if you feel rushed? If you’re not feeling ready to complete this skill, then 9 times out of 10 you’re right. A good teacher will be able to spot nerves over technique and can tell you if its just nerves, but that same teacher will also be able to spot if those nerves are affecting your technique. If you need to do 100 drills or 1000 drills then do them.
5 Key steps.
Do you feel safe?
Technique, Technique, Technique.
Question yourself and your instructor.
Know how to safely stop the skill.
Have a look at the video below to see a broken down technique with pointers.
If you have anyway questions, please write them below.
As always, Train well and train safe.