Foundations of Flight | Learning About Learning, Part 1
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Foundations of Flight | Learning About Learning, Part 1

Foundations of Flight | Learning About Learning, Part 1

By Joel Strickland

Foundations of Flight
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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Joining the Dots

Generating movement by bouncing air off the surfaces of your body is at once very simple and very complicated. Consequently, it provides rewarding experiences right from those first tense and wobbly tries all the way through to pushing against the boundaries of what is currently understood as possible. Regardless of where you are in your flying career, there are aspects of your approach to training that you can assess to help not only with the things you are learning, but also with understanding how you are learning them.

People arrive at these ideas at different times and in different ways, but it is never too early to examine what lies beneath the surface of coaching techniques, as it can help you build the best path to understanding foggy areas. Building pathways in your brain between these concepts and training methods will help guide your progress toward the goals you desire the most and help you get to those goals more quickly.

Visualizing the Whole Thing

Imagine a clock face or a compass. Now, picture your basic orientations—belly, back, head-up, head-down—superimposed on it as times or directions (12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00 or north, south, east, west). The question is, what about all of the other times and directions? What about 3:17 or north northwest? What about every degree of a circle that exists that isn’t 90, 180, 270 or 360?

Modern training techniques build your understanding of how every angle works and the ways it all works together. They then help you apply that knowledge to the disciplines and structures in our sport.

Bodyflight training is advancing quickly, and every generation of flyers adds its own refinement to the process. While progress still takes significant time, effort and resources, the development of good technique moves faster than ever. This is partly due to growth of the industry, but our collective understanding of how all the skills, methods, movements and orientations interplay and work together in harmony has an even greater effect.

Tunnel Example: Layouts

Be it over your feet or over your head, the goal of a layout is to fly in control through a complete half circle. Layout drills build confidence and awareness through all the angles contained within, which you can then apply to anything else you do in those places, whether it is forward and backward movement in static positions or tracking angles in both head-up and head-down orientations.  

Sky Example: Going Steep

When increasing the angle of a tracking jump, there is a transitional point where the required skills shift from being closer to that of flying on your belly or back and become more akin to your static head-up or head-down positions. A strong understanding of the basics will allow you to play in the areas between them.

Key Points:

The only limitation on how much you can learn about bodyflight is how far you are prepared to go.

Joining up the dots of your personal circle is important. If you are missing some areas, then work on those now rather than later. All your bodyflight skills work together in ways both obvious and subtle, and they are greater than the sum of their parts. 

Visualizing your skill set in this way can help you make progress at every step by identifying weak areas in your flying. If you’re an instructor, it can also develop your ability to help students create a solid understanding and a strong foundation on which to build.

For a deep cut, visit and look at Leo Volkov’s chart of positions. Yes, the names of the positions are funny, but the chart also provides a very, very detailed examination of exactly what is possible when you let your creativity run wild.

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