“Hey – I Can Do That!” STOP! You’re Not as Awesome as You Think… Self Efficacy in Circus

… or, maybe you are. But one of the keys to mastering any apparatus? Having an accurate estimation of your abilities. Without that, you may think you’re more of a badass than you actually are, OR you may be way too hard on yourself without reason. Knowing “where you are” allows you to direct your training by:

  • understanding whether you’re ready to attempt moves or train by yourself
  • gaining a sense of which tricks you’re ready to tackle
  • playing to your strengths (strong shoulders, flexy back, etc.)

 The Process of Learning Circus

Learning a single move goes something like this:

“I’m excited to learn this! I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing yet (and OOOWWWW!!!!), but this is cool!

“OK – it’s not pretty, but I’m getting through it without dying! I still need a spot or eyes on me though.”

“I can do this on my own! I’m comfortable with how this goes, but my knees/feet/wrists, etc are ugly. Needs cleaning.”

“I don’t hate this on video! My lines are clean, and I’m super comfy.”

“This feels like part of me. I can trouble shoot it easily, and I want to play. Time to dance it and make it my own!”

 

Learning an apparatus follows a really similar arc.

“This is amazing! I am so bad! But I love it, so I don’t care.”

“Look at meeeeeeee! I can do stuff! I still suck, but I’m seeing some progress!”

“Ugh. This is hard. I am seeing no progress. I should be BETTER than this by now! I must be the worst at this. Ever.”

“HEY!!!! I GOT IT I GOT IT! That thing that I’ve been working on for 25 weeks! I got it! Maybe I don’t suck?”

“Seeing some progress! I’m not the best, but I’m surely not the worst!”

“OK! I’m working comfortably. I have a lot of vocab under my belt, my instructor doesn’t have to tell me to straighten my arm/leg/etc.”

“I’m pretty good at this! Time to create an act.”

 

Self Efficacy in Circus

Seems pretty straight forward, right? BUT, what happens when you get hung up in an “I suck” loop? Or, you go right from “I pointed my toes today in class!” to “I’m a pre-professional student!” Both mental states suggest that you may have an inaccurate understanding of where you fall in the learning arc. That inaccurate understanding can lead to injuries, feelings of intense defeat, and/or wildly inefficient training.

The best way to keep yourself “real”? Check in with your (professional) coaches, and talk to them about the training arc in your discipline. Video yourself. Watch the best performers you can on YouTube. Ask for feedback. Be aware of how you talk to yourself. Research your industry. Train train train. And put on your listening ears.

Here’s a fantastic article by the NY Times about how self efficacy affects training in regards to injury (you have to make an acct, but it’s quick, easy, free, and WORTH IT).

Love and pull-ups, Laura

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5 comments on ““Hey – I Can Do That!” STOP! You’re Not as Awesome as You Think… Self Efficacy in Circus”

  1. Mel V. Reply

    “Look at meeeeeeee! I can do stuff! I still suck, but I’m seeing some progress!”

    That’s me right now! So much fun.

    I do frequently remind myself to focus on the long term outcome. Two years from now, it’s not going to matter if it took me three weeks or thirty to get that move.

    (My brain likes to interpret platitudes like that as ‘you suck, but that’s okay!’ No, speed legitimately IS NOT IMPORTANT here.)

    • Lewitwer Reply

      “Two years from now, it’s not going to matter if it took me three weeks or thirty to get that move.”

      Being a “NOW NOW NOW!” kind of learner, I especially love this! Thanks Mel V!

  2. Aerial Hoopla Reply

    “Ugh. This is hard. I am seeing no progress. I should be BETTER than this by now!”

    Being an intermediate student I think I’m at that stage now when you don’t see much progress. It’s like I’ve already mastered the easy stuff but the hard stuff is really HARD! I am still hopeful that the breakthrough moment will come when those hard tricks will become easy/easier.

    I think it is very difficult to be objective about your skills. It’s good if you have an instructor/mentor who can tell you what you should still work on and give you some advice. However, you should be mentally prepared to take on some constructive criticism.

    I don’t think you should ever tell to yourself or aloud that you “suck” or you are “the worst ever”. It’s just counter productive, demotivating and most probably not true.

  3. llm Reply

    and it is the body… and the mind…
    and the more they work in sync
    (with the inclusion of spirit, pls)
    the easier it gets and the more
    it is art… (eventually 😉
    THX as always, Laura,
    you are my heroine (sic!)
    in so many ways…

  4. alice Reply

    ”Look at meeeeeeee! I can do stuff! I still suck”, but if i keep trying I’m sure ill see some progress!

    That’s me down to a tee! Well the first half anyway hence the alteration. I have just started aerial. I am on about three trapeze classes and one sling class. But because i have tried to keep in shape over the years my body seems to let me do what the teachers want it to do. So far I’ve been learning about four new moves per session, which feels quick, but my brain hasn’t caught up and thinks i shouldn’t be able to do it! Then i get brain freeze. When that happens i have to hum a bit of a catchy tune in my head, relax a little, and just trust myself to get on with it. One day i hope to make both body and mind work at the same time 🙂

    At the moment, if i think too hard, everything just refuses to move lol!

    I got stuck in upside down in a sling yesterday because the direction to ‘just slide yourself down’ was not being comprehended by my brain. I had to wrap my foot in, climb up and untangle myself lol

    It would be amazing if someone produced a list of beginner/intermediate/advanced aerial moves so you could have something to measure your ability against.

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