Knee Hang Tips and Tricks

Knee Hang Tips

The acrobatic power, the risk and glory, all of the things associated with a successful Flying Trapeze career often begins with the same trick: the Knee Hang. This trick is a simple yet exciting way to introduce our newest friends to our world on the Trapeze. It, like many other tricks, can be easily broken down into easy-to-follow steps, and is an exhilarating way to experience every aspect of the apparatus. In the Knee Hang, you will feel the exciting rush of power, as well as the unique sense of weightlessness that can be produced in few other activities. Here I will, to the best of my abilities, explain the necessary actions and information needed to execute this trick.

Knee Hang Tips and Tricks

Important Trapeze rule: when hearing commands from your instructor, do your absolute best not to think about what they are saying, just react.

It is our job to be clear and concise. We will be very direct with what we want you to do, and you find the most success in just reacting and doing, for Trapeze is about timing. If you think for too long, you will be late!

After you have departed from the platform, hang straight with your entire body in the slight shape of a banana, feet behind you. This position is optimal for a few reasons:

  1. As we fly through the air, maintaining tension in our body is important for control.
  2. If our feet are in front of us as we travel upward toward the front peak of the swing, it requires more and more strength to keep them there, due to the increase in G-forces.
  3. When we initiate our motion into our first position, being able to kick forward will help us accentuate the natural momentum the swing already has, removing much of the need for muscular exertion.

Legs Up, Hook Your Knees

So, assuming our feet are behind us, we will hear the coach pulling the safety lines on the ground yell your first command, “Legs up! Hook your knees!” 

At this point, let us consider the physics of what we are trying to accomplish. Our goal is to get our knees hooked onto the bar, which requires lifting into position. The best way to go about this, however, is not by lifting, but rather by kicking our feet forward and curling our knees toward our face in one quick motion. By doing this we are able to learn one of the most important fundamentals of trapeze: momentum manipulation.

Many people think that Trapeze is all about strength, but I would argue that it is more so about manipulating the momentum we already have to to work for us. Remember: work smarter, not harder. If, when we hear the call, “legs up, hook your knees”, we try to just pull the knees to the bar, we will soon find ourselves tired from fighting with the swing, but if we quickly kick forward and roll, the natural momentum of the swing will roll our hips upward and the bend in our knees will allow us to get under the bar. All that’s left is to clamp our legs onto the bar as quickly as possible.

Hands Off

Assuming all has gone well, our knees are hooked and we are ready to go, we will hear our instructor call our next command, “Hands Off”. This call will always be said at the peak of the swing, when we are over the platform. As with the first command, we will be best off if we react immediately to the command. Simply take your hands off the bar, reach your arms over your head, and squeeze your legs down toward your butt. As you put your hands over your head, try to reach long with your body, pressing the hips out and away from you, as if you are trying to grab the net. By pushing your hips out, it will force your knees to grip the bar more tightly and it will also allow you to arch your back more deeply, which leads us to our next position.

Reach Long, Look Up High

As we approach the next peak of our swing, our goal is to be reaching out long and looking up high, preferably at the catcher’s trapeze or higher. The reason for this is that this is where the catch will happen, hopefully, at the end of your first class. Looking up and reaching long will allow your catcher to more easily make connection with your wrists. 

So these are the three basic components of the Knee Hang trick. Follow these steps and you will find success is only a few flights away. More important than anything, however, is listening to what your instructor is saying and reacting appropriately when commanded. Take your time, pay attention, and most importantly, have fun!

Knee Hang Tips

Add “Learn how to do the knee hang” to your bucket list, and then join us at one of our circus retreats for your next trip.

Also, A Beginner’s Guide to Trapeze Conditioning can help you to be physically prepared for flying high at our circus retreats.