The words we use in Acro to communicate, and what they mean.
There are certain words and phrases that are used to communicate between flyer, base and spotter(s). Using succinct vocabulary can make your play safer, easier and, most importantly, it has the ability to make your acro feel better, even physically pleasurable.
Terminology (alternative wording)
This activity means so many different things to different people.. For the purposes of explaining it to someone who has absolutely no idea. It is, in a nutshell, community based partner acrobatics. Usually done is groups of 2 or 3. Due to its community based ethos, it attracts individuals from all disciplines and is open to everyone regardless of body type or skill level.
The person who remains in contact with the floor.
The person who does NOT remain in contact with the floor.
Person(s) responsible for slowing a flyers descent in the event of a fall or slip. There are many levels to spotting: from “hands on putting the flyers into position” to “half a step back ready to jump in suddenly”. Make sure to know what level of spotting is wanted.
To practice acro with the intention of having fun and exploring, as opposed to striving for perfection.
Possibly the most important word used in acro. It doesn't matter who says it, base, flyer or spotter, it means “stop what we are doing”. As soon as this word is spoken the next action is to bring the flyer down safely to the ground.
Freak Out (bail)
When a flyer comes to the ground suddenly (due to fear). This can be dangerous as it’s often unpredictable for the base to deal with. This is often an unaware process by the flyer; over time they can learn to recognise this action and reduce it's frequency.
Points of Contact
Places where the base’s and the flyer’s bodies meet for: weight bearing, stabilisation or decoration.
The location where the base’s foot (or feet) supports the flyer’s weight.
The location where the base’s hand(s) supports the flyer’s weight.
A static position held by the base and flyer.
Moving from one pose to another.
A set of transition in sequence.
A set of transition in sequence that start and end in the same pose, ready to be repeated indefinitely.
When the base holds the flyer with straight limbs; all joints lined up vertically (perpendicular(ish) to the ground) to reduce the need to use muscle strength.
Centre of Mass (CoM)
Although we say ‘center of mass’; what we actually mean is ‘center of gravity’. The average location of the weight of an object (flyer) represented as a single point, usually around the belly button, hips or sacrum.
Top or Bottom Heavy
Not all flyers are made the same. Some have a higher center of mass (proportional to their height) and are said to be top heavy; some a lower center of mass, said to be bottom heavy. It is good to know your flyer in this respect.
Slow & Controlled
An approach to the practice that places emphasis on carrying out transitions in a manner where both the flyer and base have a high level of awareness and control throughout their movements. Usually this relies on technique more than strength. Once you can do transitions ‘slow and controlled’ you can then do them 'fast and controlled'.
To become familiar with someone in such a way as to be able to anticipate how their body reacts. This can be a conscious or subconscious awareness. There are varying degrees of calibration; the more you play with an individual the higher the level of calibration you develope. A base pressing a flyer from the ground halfway into bird and back 4 times is NOT becoming calibrated.
An action used to sync the base and flyer immediately before a trick. Often used for dynamic transitions.
Where a flyer lowers a section of their body (often the torso, legs or a leg) in preparation for a pop or whip and springs it back into or past the original position. The flyer remains engaged throughout. This motion adds extra momentum to the transition as well as informing the base when to act. This motion can also be used as tempo.
Rotating in the opposite direction to the intended transition to gain momentum beforehand. Often used in pops, whips, and transitions that require a lot of internal or external rotation from the base. This motion can also be used as tempo.
When someone is focusing on another aspect of acro and neglecting the magnitude of ‘hand squeeze’ they are inflicting on their partner.
To createas much space as possible between the shoulders and ears.
A base is said to have soft feet when they can perform transitions with relaxed feet resulting in the flyer feeling as though they are in complete comfort. Also flyers, this is an amazing compliment to give your bases.
To widen (or narrow) the angle between the legs.
To bend at the hips bringing the toros and legs closer together.
To bringing one knee towards the chest.
To bringing both knees to the chest.
Aiming to bring your shoulders together at the front creating a concave structure.
To bring your sternum forward and shoulders back creating a convex structure. The opposite of hollow.
Chin to Chest
Bending the neck bringing your head down and forward as far as possible, ideally until your chin touches your chest.
Rotating your pelvis bringing your tail bone under your body and your pubic bone forward. Squeezing of the buttocks will occur.
Tight is Light (engage)
A tensing of the muscles. Not always great advice in practice, makes people become stiff, can feel like you are fighting with them, and stops a lot of people getting into hand 2 hand. An alternative phrase will be added soon.
This is an instruction for someone to stay still. It can often be used by the base to let the flyer know things are under control, especially if the flyer is struggling with points of reference in a tricky balance such as Superfree.
Do not confuse this with ‘hold’ or ‘down’. If everything is done “slow and controlled”, the base or flyer can say ‘stop’ at any moment during a transition and both base and flyer should be able to hold that position. It is a test of control.
Point & Flex
Point - to push your toes away from your knees.
Flex - to pull your toes towards your knees.
Internal & External Rotation
Internal - turning a foot so that the toes face the other foot.
External - turning a foot so that the heel faces the other foot.
Inversion & Eversion
Inversion - rotating the ankle so that the sole of the foot is facing the other foot.
Eversion - rotating the ankle so that the sole of the foot is facing away from the other foot.
Flatten Your Foot
This is a request to the base from the flyer, to orienting the sole of their foot so that the knuckles are horizontal (parallel to the ground) (more comfortable).
Web Editors Note
This is not an exhaustive list, it takes time to define each term and post it on the websiet. More words are added regularly.