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Think It Through: How To Improve Your Aerial Performance in 10 Seconds

If you skip out of class on Tuesday night and don’t give aerials another thought until, well, the next Tuesday night, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful ways to improve your aerial game: visualization (…cue Enya… go for chanting Tibetan monks….standby for healing crystal chakra vibrations….). No, I haven’t gone all woo-woo on you, but I AM going to share with you the secrets of the Universe how you can literally think your way to aerial awesomeness. Read on, mah peeps!


Why Bother to Visualize Your Work Outside of Class?

Because everything you do begins with a thought. Now, whether it’s an awesome thought, or an OMG-I-can’t-believe-I-just-did/ate/tapped-that! kind of thought is another matter entirely. Aim high, people! Some items for your consideration:

  • what you think about expands. Thinking about alfredo sauce and Ring Dings will “expand” your behind (because you will eat them). Thinking like a skinny b*tch is likely to have the opposite effect. See how this works?
  • visualizing creates mental “roadmaps” that translate into physical experience. I don’t know the science behind it all, but I can promise you this: run your moves in your head and your body will follow at your next session.
  • mental rehearsal strengthens your commitment & resolve – you will come into class ready to OWN THIS THING! Let’s do it.

Methods to the Madness

Here are a few things that work for me:

  • if you’re having trouble with a particular move or correction, go through it in slow motion in your head. See yourself executing it flawlessly and smoothly. Now, speed it up slowly in your brain. Mentally run it until it feels like you’re not even “thinking” about it. Try to feel it in your body.
  • if your stamina is le poo, figure out why (click here  and here  for some possible reasons). If you’re not breathing properly for instance, visualize your sequences and see/feel yourself breathing deeply throughout. Use word cues (“breath” or “rest” for example) in your mind and in your rehearsal to prompt your body to follow.
  • if you’re rehearsing for a show, put that music on your iPod and run run run run that piece in your head. I do it walking to and from the train – use any and every opportunity to get it into your brain.


The brain is a lot like a muscle: if you’re not used to using it in this way, it’s going to feel funny at first. Stick with it! You can visualize yourself right into all sorts of amazing stuff! Lemme hear you – how have YOU used visualizations in your aerial work? Progression? Healing from injury? Leave a comment, I’d love to know. Love and pull-ups, Laura


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6 comments on “Think It Through: How To Improve Your Aerial Performance in 10 Seconds”

  1. NIcole Reply

    Yes ma’am this is spot on! I think it’s funny how when I run through a sequence in my head I discover how much I actually don’t know it, transitions wise. So much better to figure those things out in the imagination before being up in the air! =P

    • Lewitwer Reply

      So true, Nicole! Transitions are where I get “muddy” too since they’re often what’s actually new in the piece (as opposed to many of the positions). 🙂

  2. Glendyne Reply

    I actually have done some visualization on some skills and it helped me overcome some of my fears and/or achieve something I’ve never done before.

    During one of my classes our teacher was teaching us to do a pike to sit on the trapeze… I was terrified of the tipping back part as I didn’t trust my grip on the ropes. She spotted me a couple of times and I felt better. After class that night, and before going to bed, I picked apart the skill in my mind, visualized what it felt like, and vowed I’d try it by myself at the next class. Guess what – it worked! I shocked myself that I “conquered” that skill and gained a lot of praise from my teacher. 🙂

    Also this past week, I decided I wanted to try to get up to our 12 foot high static trapeze. I had never done that before, not because I was afraid of heights, but, in order to get up there you had to climb up a silk to reach it. Climbing the silk was still a challenge for me but now that I’ve bumped up my classes to twice a week it’s getting better. While driving home from class that afternoon, I visualized myself being really strong and climbing to reach the trapeze bar. I visualized what the silk felt like in my hands and making the transition to grip the trapeze bar. I came to class the next day and after two attempts finally climbed up and gripped the bar! I didn’t do much up there other than hang and a few pike beats but I felt “super human” for stepping out of my box and achieving something I’d never done before. I attribute it all to visualization. 🙂

    I’m still very much a beginner in the aerial arts and am progressing at a snail’s pace but I LOVE it! Each week I seem to surprise myself more of what I can do. I am definitely going to keep up with this visualization stuff as it seems to be working.

  3. Julie Crompton Reply

    I don’t know why I’ve never tried visualization with aerial skills, because I do it all the time with martial arts. I can’t do poom-sae (forms) properly until I can see myself doing them, one move at a time, in my head. Now I’m going to use the same technique with the moves I’m learning to do in the silks.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Awesome, Julie!!! I’ve been trying the same technique in my German wheel classes. I just noticed in my last class that, in addition to helping me remember sequencing and technique, the visualizing allows me to be much bolder and more confident with my movements (essential when you’re trying to get a wheel around to the other side without falling on your head). 🙂

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