Circus Skills - Balance Props

Balance props will involve balancing your whole body on the prop.

There are many different styles of stilts, some of which can be used for extreme running and athletic acrobatic movements, like the pro jump, and kangaroo stilts.


To be successful

Advice or tips to help you


Posture for all balance props

Keep your back straight

- Always keep back upright and straight with your shoulders relaxed down and your core muscles engaged to keep back strong.

- Also imagine a piece of string pulling you up from the top of your head! This will help your posture.

Look forward

- Always look forward and not down at your feet.

Keep your knees 'soft'

- Your knees should be below your hips and your feet straight and below your knees. Your knees should be slightly bent to allow any impacts to be absorbed without injury.



Safety first!

Wear body armour

- It is vital you have correctly-fitting wrist guards and knee pads. When you fall, these will help stop you injuring yourself.

Secure straps or fittings

- Make sure you have correct stilts for your size and weight. Also make sure all straps and buckles are properly secured to your feet and legs.

Learn how to fall correctly and take advantage of assistance

- Learning to fall properly is essential. It is necessary to practise this when you begin.

- You must drop forward onto your knees when you fall and always ensure you fall forwards, not backwards.

- When first learning stilts, make sure you have a strong adult to assist you with your balance and falls.


Body positioning

Lift your knees

- When walking, it is important to lift the knees high (so the back of the knee is at 90 degrees)

Keep your feet straight

- Straight (parallel) feet are very important when stilt walking otherwise the stilts may knock together, causing you to fall over or damage the stilts.


Combining skills (using small-scale manipulation skills with balance props)

Raise your manipulation skill level

- Your skill level with your manipulation prop must be very good before you attempt it while using a balance prop, such as having a really solid 3-ball cascade for juggling.

Raise your balance prop skill level

- You must be able to easily maintain balance on your prop (idling for a unicycle) before attempting a manipulation skill at the same time.

Use assistance

- Assistance from a teacher will be necessary when you are beginning to combine skills. They can help you if you lose balance or drop your manipulation prop.


Rolla Bolla

Getting started

Use a safety mat

- It is important to have a gym mat beneath the Rolla bola when you are learning to avoid injury.

Take advantage of assistance

- Have a strong adult to hold onto when learning to avoid falling so often.

Check your foot position

- Always put your first foot on the side of the board that is in contact with floor. When both feet are on the board, they should be an equal distance from the ends of the board and pointed straight forwards.


Basic balancing

Get the balance

- Once your feet are in the correct position, it is necessary to transfer your weight to the higher foot. Once you begin balancing, remember to bend your knees to help keep your balance and try to keep your upper body still.

Straighten the board!

- The board should always be in line with the tube. If the board twists step off, straighten the board and tube, and then begin again.


Tube walking

Improve your technique

- Put the ball of your right foot on the tube, roll the tube forward until you get to your heel, then place the ball of the left foot on the tube, so your weight is now fully on the tube. As the left foot moves forward, you need to lift the right foot and place the ball of the right foot back on the tube to continue the roll. Continue the movement like this. With practice you will soon be walking.


- Try the same trick but now going backwards! Use the same technique but start with your heel and roll to the ball of your foot.



Getting started

Adjust height of unicycle

- If the seat of the unicycle is too low or too high it will make it harder for the rider. The seat should be level with the hip of the participant.

Check your pedal position

- Put your strongest foot on the pedal first and make sure the pedal is at the bottom of the wheel, not the top.

Have a vertical line from the centre of the wheel to the top of the head

- Keep your back straight, bringing your hips forward or backwards if needed, to create a straight line.



Avoid holding the seat with your hand

- Try not to hold the seat with your hands, squeeze your legs against the seat to hold it steady then use your arms to balance.

Ensure that you're not going too slowly

- Try not to pedal slowly as this will make riding more difficult. A little more speed will make it easier to balance.

Try riding into an open space

- Start riding by a wall or railing then let go occasionally, using assistance only when needed.



Check your pedal movement

- Pedals need to be flat with leading foot in front, and then do a half rotation backwards so leading foot is flat again. Keep changing backwards and forwards. Use a wall to help you balance yourself.

Lead with both feet

- Learn to idle with both feet leading at different times.

Use correct arm positioning

- Have your arms out to the side of your body slightly bent, to help you balance.