Splits balance is an amazing, jaw-dropping aerial silks, straps, or chains skill that requires considerable active flexibility and strength.
I like to shock my new students when they first learn double footlock splits by telling them that they can work their way up to going hands free. That always gets a good reaction. They insist they could never do that–“we don’t even have our splits yet!”
But if you haven’t yet, you really can get there! EVEN if you don’t have a flat split, and EVEN if you are not strong enough to hold your deepest split without hands. There are several different wraps that work for splits balance, some of them more supportive than others, and one that does a good job of disguising a split that isn’t flat.
I have put together an in-depth virtual workshop that dives into the theory, technique, and progressions for the splits balance. I honestly believe that equipped with the right knowledge, anyone who can train splits can train splits balance. If you want the full story, including anatomy, wrap progressions and troubleshooting, balancing and engagement technique and progressions, floor exercises, and fabric drills, definitely check the link at the bottom of this post.
In the meantime, enjoy these 5 splits balance tips!
Develop your active flexibility
In order not to succumb to gravity and tear all the soft tissues of your groin and thighs, you must work your active flexibility. Passive splits is not going to do the trick once you’re holding yourself up with split legs! Focus on exercises that develop strength in your hip flexors, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. I include this exact type of training in my workshop, and you can also do a full active splits follow-along splits training with me anytime for free, a la this video!
There are a few important points for posture in splits balance. One important detail is to sit your shoulders over your hips, allowing your back to arch and drawing your belly button in toward the spine to engage your core. Push your chest forward toward the pole in front of you and shift your weight slightly over the front leg. This will make the split easier and make it easier to catch if you lose your balance. you can *definitely* shift your weight further back as long as you have the strength and balance to support that variation.
It’s hard to get a lot of balance practice in with the splits balance because the position is so difficult to sustain strength-wise. Finding other opportunities to practice balance is helpful for developing your inner ear as well as the very same muscles in the trunk that you would use for splits balance.
- Try removing one or both hands when riding a bike
- Slacklining/tightrope walking
- Walk on railings!
- Yoga balance postures (try them on a bosu ball or wobble board for additional challenge)
- Wobble board (is that what it’s called?)
Wear shorts and spray down your fabric
If you live in a dry place, you may find issues with fabric slippage if you are using eggbeater wraps. To enhance friction, wear shorts (or grippy pants) and spray down your fabric with water. I never had to do these things when I lived by the ocean in Santa Cruz, but now that I live in the desert, I usually need to.
This is one of the fabric drills I share in the workshop that is useful for developing active flexibility. It helps you to develop the strength you need in your hips and legs to go hands free for a splits balance:
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Of course, there is a lot more to the splits balance than what is listed here. It is important to be extremely careful when approaching this skill, as it is possible to injure yourself from incorrect technique, lack of progressions, or lack of strength. The workshop I have created is designed to help you safely and effectively approach splits balance.
The on-demand virtual workshop includes 75 minutes of video and discussion of the splits balance, including:
- Anatomy & physiology of splits balance (without being overly jargony)
- Posture & safe engagement
- A progression of wraps you can use from most to least support in the splits balance
- Techniques and progression for balancing, from most accessible to most challenging.
- Floor drills you can add to your training to develop active flexibility specific to the splits balance
- Fabric drills that develop the specific strength needed in splits balance
- Recovery stretches for post-splits balance training
My goal is to empower and equip you with a knowledge of splits balance, so that you know how to mitigate risk of injury and take appropriate steps toward your full expression of this skill. It is not as simple as putting on some wraps and giving it a go. I take you the long way around so that you can see the crucial aspects of this skill, and come away not only with a clear roadmap for training the skill, but an understanding of how it works.
If this is a skill you want to learn and understand, click here to find out more about the workshop!