Sky Gym

Cross-back straddle

Cross-back straddle
Crossback Straddle

Crossback Straddle

Skill name or ID: Crossback Straddle

Alias(es): x-back straddle, locked straddle inversion

Variations: double foot locks (fig 8, dancers) or triple leg wraps, with candy canes

Level: Foundation







• Double footknots
• Straight leg straddle up in knot

• Straight leg straddle up in knot

• Wide legged wall sit

Warm-up and Stretches
• Straddle v-ups and plow rolls
• Wide legged forward bend, sitting straddle stretch


Start by standing upright in your footknots with your legs together. Draw your hips behind the poles and then swim your shoulders in front of the poles. The poles should be in front of your thighs but behind your shoulders. Find your stability here in this balance. Lift one arm above your head and reach behind both poles to grasp the opposite pole. Lift the other arm above your head and reach in front of both poles. Arch forward, keeping your legs as close together as possible, then pull the poles far enough apart to squeeze your shoulders through. Now the poles should be in your armpit and cross eachother behind your back. Note which pole is closest to your body for your exit.

Grip one pole in each hang, just above head height. Pull up enough to take your weight out of your feet and at the same time activating your deep abdominal muscles to lift your legs as high as you can in a wide, straight leg straddle. Make sure that the cross slides to the top of your pelvis before tipping all the way backwards. Activate abs to keep pelvic tuck while your hands push against the poles to tip yourself all the way over.

Bring both hands to the pole corresponding to the cross that was cloest to your body that you noticed on the prep. Sit your torso up as you lower your legs and bring


Entry: Arms at head height, half of a pull up to take weight off feet. Straight leg lift to pelvis height (creating pelvic tuck). Must have flexibility to sit against a wall with legs wide. Arms not strong enough to pull up will cause butt and hips to drop when trying to lift legs to pelvis height. Cross will ride up to mid back, and create danger of slipping off shoulders. Core and hip flexors not strong enough to lift legs to hip height will prevent flyer from tipping over, unless they compensate with bad form cheats, like bending knees, or pushing torso backwards first and trying to force legs to follow.

Skill: Wide legged wall sit. slight core engagement to keep inner thighs pressed to poles

Exit: None of real consequence

Entry: Be careful not to use back flexibility to compensate for lack of core and arm strength, by trying to lead with chest and basically backbend into pose, dragging legs like dead weight through backbend.

Skill: Lack of suffieinct straddle flexibility will throw crossback straddle off balance and bring legs dangerously close together cauing the knot to slip off hips. Hyper mobile and weak or unengaged inner thighs will cause legs to over straddle and drive cross up back as well as crank on inner thigh soft tissue. Also makes exit hard because hips will sink into upright straddle, making standing difficult without pull-up ability.

Exit: none of real consequence

Body Proportions
Entry: heavy hips will make lifting them harder. Longer legs will make lifting them harder. Heavier torso may help tip slightly

Skill: Flat buttocks may not create a strong enough shelf to support cross.

Exit: none of real consequence

Make sure that placement of cross is in a comfortable position. For hyper or regular straddle flexibility, slightly squeeze inner thighs together to prevent hyper straddle. Make sure footlocks are even before starting

Risk Analysis

• Cross doesn’t get above hips
• Cross is too high on back
• Legs come through the center
• Legs are too wide in straddle
• Legs aren’t flexible enough

Cross doesn’t get above hips
Potential: Fall headfirst and land on ground, knee hang or ankle hang
Likelihood: 4
Severity: 1-4
Spot: Physically pull poles apart and lift cross above top of buttock

Cross is too high on back
Potential: Fall headfirst and land on ground or ankle hang
Likelihood: 2
Severity 2-4
Spot: Force flyer to sit up by pushing on their back. May need to help close their legs by moving the poles closer together

Legs come through the center
Potential: Fall headfirst and land on ground, knee hang or ankle hang
Likelihood: 3
Severity 2-4
Spot: Prevent flyer from rolling all the way through. Physically move legs to outsides of poles

Legs are too wide in straddle
Potential: Pull groin
Likelihood: 3
Severity: 1-2
Spot: help tip flyer up, and use poles to help legs squeeze together

Legs aren’t flexible enough
Potential: Tip back into angel
Likelihood: 2
Severity: 1
Spot: push down on heels in straddle to help flyer balance

Spotting Theory

Stand behind flyer and spot at hips to stabilize standing balance, then help them reach for the correct poles. Maybe help open poles to get shoulder through cross.

Stand to side or behind flyer, and spot by controlling poles attached to hips and feet, and/or between shoulder blades to protect head and neck.

Stand behind flyer and help identify which cross is on bottom. Consider helping to stabilize in split when pole pops off back, and rearranging grip to normal split.

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