Getting Started with Hooping
When you start hooping, the most important thing is your initial push. Start with the hoop pushed into your lower back, just above your hips, elbows bent 90 degrees. Bring the front of the hoop level with the back so it's perfectly flat. Now push across with one hand, give a firm push right across to your opposite hip. Don't try to hoop, just try to get a steady flat push. If the hoop goes upward on the push it will come straight down again, if you start high on the body, the hoop will fall straight down. If you get a good push, the hoop should go around maybe 10 times before falling to the ground. Do this a few times, try to feel where the hoop pulls against you. Closing your eyes will help you to focus on the pressure. You should feel how the hoop pushes against your stomach, you are going to meet this by pushing the hoop forward as it presses against you.
Now, give a push, allow the hoop to go around once to feel the timing and then as the hoop comes across your stomach, push forward. Throw the hoop forward with the pelvis/belly each time it comes across the front. Try to keep your knees and ankles relaxed so you can stay balanced, this will also increase the range of your swing.
At first you should just move backward and forward, lifting the pelvis upward on the forward thrust. Some people naturally go from side to side but the range of movement is less than in a backward forward movement. Once you can keep the hoop going start trying to make a circular motion to push against the hoop at every point, this is much harder as it requires you to spread your awareness over a wider area. Once you develop the awareness you'll find it is much easier and reduces bruising. It will also help you to move the hoop up and down the body. Some people find it easier to put one foot forward but this restricts advancement and can lead to more bruising.
If you can keep the hoop going for a minute then you are ready to try something else. There are a few things to try that will really help you to gain control of the hoop, during this time you can expect to drop the hoop a lot:
- Try to speed up the hoop by driving a little more on each rotation.
- Let the hoop slow down and then try to keep it going as slowly as possible.
- Try standing on one leg.
- Now try the other one!
Standing on one leg is a great exercise as it really focuses your control. Now that you've hooped on one leg you are ready to try taking steps. Take a few steps, walk in a circle, try to speed up until you are jogging and then running. If you are working with children you can organise hooping relay races which are great fun.
Another challenge that children always rise to is to try to kneel down and then stand back up again, keeping the hoop going all the time.
Spinning with the hoop is very easy and it's fun.
Start with the hoop pulled into your lower back as normal. Using the momentum of your push, spin right around with the hoop in the same direction as your hoop. Try to spin on the ball of one foot rather than taking small steps. As you come to a stop, try to keep the hoop going around your waist. Don't panic and grab the hoop, this is easier than you expect.
Now you know to turn in the same direction as your hoop so you can try from hooping. As the hoop comes to the front, spin around and then carry on. You should feel the hoop "stick" to you as you spin. You are taking on the rotation of the hoop and we'll look at more ways to do this later. As you spin, the hoop sticks, once you stop, the hoop starts to rotate again.
Recovering a falling hoop.
When learning to hoop it's easy to go out of time and the hoop loses power and starts to fall. Once it gets to a certain point it's all over. People always ask me how to get it back up. There are a few ways to do this.
The least elegant, but possibly most effective, I call The Shimmy. When you feel the hoop starting to go, drop your hips down into the hoop by bending your knees and try to catch the hoop onto your hips again.
A simple thing to try is just to speed up. Speeding up can bring you back into time with the hoop and gives the hoop extra momentum.
The most effective way and the way which helps your technique most is to use your pelvis. When the hoop is going around it finds some support on the hips and at the back. There is a tendency to have your bum stuck out so there is plenty of support at the back and non at the front. To redress this you need to lift your pelvic bones at the front.
This doesn't always make sense and so you can explore that movement by imagining that you have a tail. First you need to try to feel the tip of your imaginary tail, try to swing your tail forwards between your legs. Bringing the tip of your tail up at the front should cause a movement in your coxcyx and sacrum and cause the pelvis to rotate so your hips lift up at the front. This is very different to pushing your hips forwards. You will know if your are succesful as the small of your back will push backward as your hips roll upward.
Once your pelvis rotates, you create a support at the front too and the hoop is supported all the way around. This should also lift the hoop up into your stomach which will help prevent bruising.