Head Down Forward / Backward

Description

As you begin the Head Down flight progression, there are many skills that you have exposure to during the basic position training in Belly, Back, and Sit Flying. Forward and Backward Movement being one of those, you have the basic understanding of these movements as part of balancing your neutral position. Being able to control any movements in order to stay still will be your primary means of learning this skill and then moving on to specific Forward and Backward movements to designated places inside the tunnel.

Pre-requisites

This skill is one that you will have some familiarity with as you will learn and understand the majority of the elements while you are learning supported and basic Head Down flight. Your natural body position will determine what your coach will have had you focus on during the learning stages of your neutral position. You will be familiar in the methods of stopping any unwanted Forward and/or Backward drive in order to demonstrate control.

Prior to learning specific Forward and Backward movements, you will need to ensure that you have a stable neutral Head Down position first.

Objectives

The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully begin in a neutral Head Down position off the net, and on the signal from your coach, fly forward approximately 3-5 feet from your original position and stop. When signalled again, fly backward 3-5 feet to your starting point. You should be able to complete each movement without losing your heading, gaining or losing any altitude, or needing to “bail” due to any instability.

Preparation

First, set up in the center of the tunnel, flying Head Down at roughly waist height above the net. On the coach’s signal, initiate either a small Forward or Backward movement, which will place you close to one side of the tunnel. Ensure that the movements you are planning to perform provide enough space to complete the movement without contacting the tunnel wall. It is always recommended that you not fly any closer than 2 feet from the wall. This will allow your head to clear the wall if you need to “bail” to your Sit Fly for any reason.

Technique and Drills

Basic

Forward

  • You will begin in a Head Down, neutral position with enough space in front of you to perform this maneuver. Ideally you will start with your back close to the tunnel wall
  • Initiate the Forward movement by extending your back leg and pushing your arms slightly back
  • Keep your spine straight throughout the entire movement
  • Stop the movement before reaching the opposite side of the tunnel by returning your back leg to neutral, extending your front leg slightly, and returning your arms to neutral
  • Use small inputs to begin with until you become comfortable with this movement

Backward

  • Begin in a Head Down, neutral position with enough space behind you to perform this maneuver. For safety reasons, you will start with approximately 2 feet between you and the tunnel wall
  • Initiate the Backward movement by extending your front leg out and pushing your arms slightly forward
  • Keep your spine straight throughout the entire movement
  • Stop the movement before reaching the opposite side of the tunnel by returning your front leg to neutral, extending your back leg slightly, and returning your arms to neutral
  • Use small inputs to begin with until you become comfortable with this movement

Post-flight questions / suggestions

  • How did your performance match the initial objectives?
  • Were you able to maintain stability for both movements consistently?
  • Can you complete the movements without turning, gaining or losing altitude?
  • What techniques did you feel comfortable with and what can you improve on during the next session?

 

When you are learning to fly the neutral Head Down position, you will naturally learn the basics of each of the control movements. Once you feel like you have the basic control of the forward and backward movements, set yourself a goal to move to specific places inside the wind tunnel and also mix in altitude and movement changes to help advance each of these skills together. 

What skill level is next?

Head Down Left / Right Turn

As you begin the Head Down flight progression, there are many skills that you will incorporate that you have already had exposure to in earlier training. Turning being one of those skills, as you have already worked on how to balance while in the neutral position. Being able to control your heading will be the initial means of learning this skill. You will begin to understand how your body position and movements affect flight, to the point you can control your movement so as not to turn, and then make mindful inputs to generate a direction change and stop.

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