Inspired to Try an Olympic Sport? Learn to Fall First.


Dr. This maneuver may sound daunting, but it’s not difficult for most healthy people to master or deploy in the blink of an eye, Weerdesteyn said. In other experiments by the research group, the teens picked up the technique later. 30 minutes of supervised training. And once trained, humans typically begin to curl and roll. within 200 milliseconds during a controlled fall.

To do your own curling exercise, find an empty space in a room or hallway and stack padding such as mats or thick blankets. Then go through some slow motion drops. Start from a low, squatting position so you create the least amount of force as you hit the ground before moving on to a standing fall. Release from both sides to the side, then forward and back. If you’re worried about speed, have a partner brake you by holding your upper arm lightly as you back up. (If you have a history of injury or bone thinning, talk to your doctor first. You can also consult an athletic trainer to have your fall technique evaluated.)

Helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, and a set of bandages also help if you decide to try a new sport when tempted by the Olympics. “Packing is pretty important,” said Mr. Sheckler, for novice skateboarders.

Same with other gravity sports. “Pads are the way to keep the fun going,” said Ryan Nyquist, head coach of the United States BMX freestyle team and a 16-time X Games BMX medalist. BMX freestyle, which involves starting yourself and a BMX bike from the features in a bike trail park, Olympic debuts Saturday.

If you’re high off the ground, you can also orient yourself in space, says Nina Williams, a professional rock climber on The North Face team. (Sport climbing will be another new sport At the Summer Games.) For example, if you’re on a rocky wall at your local climbing gym and suspect you’re about to fall, she said, “Don’t close your eyes.” “Look down,” he said, checking for obstacles such as other climbers or their gear and letting go slowly. “Jump,” he said. “Exhale and let yourself go.”

“Get up,” he continued. Then, of course, use your tuck and roll. “Don’t support yourself,” said Ms. Williams. “Stay loose.”

“Think about feet, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders,” said Mr. Nyquist, and then roll from one to the other like a rag doll.


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