Today friends, we’re chatting about what EVERY aerial instructor (and student, for that matter) should know about aerial rigging. I quite genuinely don’t care if you “only teach for XYZ Studio and they handle all of the rigging” – you have a responsibility to yourself and your students to know the basics. See a hole in your knowledge (or your fabrics)? Fix it pronto!
As a coach, you should be able to:
- Identify equipment & it’s proper use.
- It’s not enough to know the name of your apparatus (and, for the record, tissu is the curtain you climb, tissue is what you blow your nose with).
- You should know the industry terms for ALL your equipment (shackles, carabiner, span set, swivel, rescue 8, etc.).
- You should understand how each piece was designed to be used (including contraindications), and be able to select the “right tool for the job”.
- Understand common rigging terms such as bridle, basket, choke, etc.
- Tie common knots such as the bowline, figure 8 loop, and clove hitch.
- Maintain & inspect equipment, and keep a rigging inspection log.
- Have written standards in place for retiring equipment.
- Understand of how shock loads in dynamic movement affect the body & rigging (ex: are you teaching a drop to double ankle hang from a dead hung rig on a low-stretch fabric? It’s back to basics for you, m’dear!)
- Explain clearly and concisely why we do not rig and teach from trees.
- Teach your students about what they’re hanging from. Take every opportunity to educate your behbehs on equipment inspection, hardware, angles, knots, etc.
Now – if I walked into your studio and asked you, or the instructors that work for you, any of the above questions, would we have an awkward moment? From some of the conversations I occasionally have, my guess is yes…. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, friends!
Closing the Gaps in Your Aerial Rigging Knowledge
So, you’re not rock solid in a few areas (or more than a few). What do you do?
- Become a pro-active sponge. Be relentless in your pursuit of rigging knowledge, and take gaps in your understanding seriously. DON’T be an idiot and pretend that you know more than you do – that’s how people get hurt. Not sure what you don’t know? Then….
- Take a workshop. Brett Copes, Jonathan Deull, and many other EXCELLENT aerial riggers have started offering fantastic workshops for aerialists. If they come anywhere near you, run to sign up – they’re worth every penny and more.
- Hit the books! Here are some of my favorites.
- Get up close and personal with a rigger.
- If you’re on an event with a professional rigger doing your set-up, ask them to walk you through the rig (they will probably offer anyway). Don’t be afraid to politely ask questions! In ye days of olde, when I was on tour, we had some phenomenal riggers (Tracy Nunnaly and Bill Auld) who not only answered all our questions, but went WAY out of their way to educate us about everything from angles to equipment.
- Schedule a private lesson. Many riggers will teach a one-on-one or group session in basic rigging for a very reasonable fee.
- Cultivate a good relationship with several excellent aerial riggers – you should have at least two on speed dial.
- Scour the interwebs. You can find a number of great resources! A few of my favorites include:
- Be more social. The Safety in Aerial Arts FaceBook group is a great place to read up on best practices, ask questions (please search before you ask – you’re probably not the first person to have your question), and connect with top riggers in the industry.
- Have a regular rigging training/refresher for your instructors. Invite Brett or Jonathan to do a rigging workshop in your space, and/or hire a certified rigger to come in once a year to a) do an inspection of your space and b) make sure all your instructors have a solid understanding of what’s keeping everyone in the air.
Rigging is kind of important (!!!), but green instructors often consider it peripheral – preferring to focus on trick-collecting and pointy toes. You can’t see me right now, but I have on my serious “Laura Means Business” face. RIGGING IS NOT PERIPHERAL KNOWLEDGE, IT IS ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE.
Your mission for this week? Pick out one thing above and order it, sign up for it, learn it, do it, schedule it, juggle it, etc. I’m going to brush up my knots an make sure they’re still tight and right. What are YOU going to focus on? Do you have a favorite resource I didn’t mention? Comment below! Love and pull-ups, Laura
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