1. Trick on grass
For me, tricking on plyometric flooring has been more dangerous than tricking on grass. All of my worst injuries have happened on plyometric flooring, and I trick much more often on grass than I trick on plyo. The following injuries happened on plyo floor:
Here's why I think plyo is more dangerous than grass: first, plyometric flooring tempts you to continue tricking into the highest states of fatigue, which is dangerous. Second, the plyometric flooring is soft enough to allow ligaments and toes and fingers to go too far in the wrong direction upon the immediate impact, but then you reach a hard bottom. In other words: plyo floor is like a trap, it lets you in but won't let you out. So you sprain an ankle, tear an ACL, or break a digit. Grass is different. The nature of a crash on plyo floor is different than the nature of a crash on grass. Grass usually does not allow a ligament or digit or joint or whatever to even begin going in the wrong direction. It's less likely to let that happen because there is no layering of soft and hard. Grass is monolayer. It's either a bit mushy from a soft rain or concrete from a drought. This monolayer results in safer landing and crashing. Sand, mats, pits, and other super-softies have this soft-hard characteristic that plyo flooring has, but the typical way we use such things is different than the way we use plyo flooring. (We trick on plyo, we trick onto mats) Also, these super-softies have sufficiently more cushion all the way down.)
1 = So you're tricking on grass now.
2. Trick fresh
When you trick into the fatigued state your coordination is impaired, and your stabilizing musculature becomes exhausted and could give out suddenly, thus you're more accident prone. The trick here is to toy around with cutting your sessions short, ending it on a good note, and leaving some energy for tomorrow's session.
1 + 2 = You're tricking on grass while intelligently handling fatigue.
3. Trick more frequently
If you trick infrequently, your tricks will get a little rusty between sessions. Being rusty can mean being more prone to making a technical mistake that could result in harm.
It's the old adage of spaced practice being superior to massed practice. Basically, three 60 minute sessions each week are better than one 180 minute session once a week.
Also, as insane as this will sound: I feel a small amount of accumulated fatigue from higher frequency tricking is a safety boost. When you trick/train more frequently, your CNS keeps its brakes on slightly, so that you won't tear yourself in half like a crazed animal that's been cooped up in a cage for a week and suddenly unleashed: moreover, a crazed animal that isn't tricking often enough to ward off the aforementioned "getting a little rusty between sessions" effect. Even more: if tricking is the only form of physical activity you partake in, and you only partake in it a few times a month: a crazed animal with awful stabilizing muscle development and technical memory lapse. You walk around in shoes all day and decide once every few weeks to take them off and do cool moves on moon flooring. Your peroneal muscles are amnesiac and your hips are tight from the MMO/X-Box culture posture, good luck on that miss leg combo! lolololol.
To clarify, I'm not talking about tricking through fatigue you develop after 3 hours of tricking, that's different and dangerous. I'm talking about tricking with fatigue that's had time to settle a day or more, and I'm talking about a small amount of it: I think it's good for you. But you should still take a back off week here and there because that beneficial fatigue will become real baggage after a month or two, and will come to restrain potential progress. (More tips for intelligently handling fatigue here.)
1+2+3 = You're tricking often on grass while intelligently handling fatigue.
4. Use stimulants
While an analogy exists stating that tricking while stimulated is like overclocking a CPU, (increases performance but also increases the risk of crashing), I believe it's incorrect; I believe stimulants actually increase performance while reducing risk. Why? Because stimulants boost strength / speed / cognition / mood and coordination. When coordination is humming, you'll make less mistakes.
The best way to trick on stimulants for safety (and possibly even progress) is not to give into the temptation to take advantage of their powers by tricking longer. It's not the stimulants that increase your risk of accident, it's tricking too long. Again, cut the session short, even if you think you're being wasteful of the stimulant's super powers. Stopping short when you're geeked up on a stimulant cocktail is one of the hardest things to discipline yourself to do. But maybe, just maybe, you really should just stop.
Tip 1: It makes it easier to stop short on stimulants if you use a little less. 100 mg vs 200 mg of caffeine for example. 6 mg vs 25 mg of ephedrine. It's also easier to justify stopping a session early if you aren't downing infinite amounts of a sports drink. I have this mentality that when I down a pre-training energy drink, that if I quit early or don't train hard enough I'm being wasteful. The solution is simply to skip these shakes altogether, or start drinking them halfway through a session that's already going well.
Tip 2: If you find it unlikely that you will be able restrain yourself and cut your tricking session short when you've just had a crazy stimulant stack, consider an alternative: Cross tricking. After tricking for almost an hour, and you want to keep going, finish up the session with another training modality: superset your tricking with upper body pressing, hand balancing, stamina work, flexibility training (extreme splits!), etc.
Last word on tricking through fatigue: what makes fatigue dangerous to trick through, is usually an accident: and the accident usually happens during something big. If you want to do long tricking sessions, and be safe, consider switching gears during the final part of the session and drilling easy stuff that needs drilled: such as basic opposite sided tricks or basic tricks, or even basic martial arts kicks.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = You're tricking under the influence of stimulants often on grass while intelligently handling fatigue.
5. Strength train
By implementing a moderate number of strength training sessions per month, with decent exercise selection and a penchant for impeccable form, you'll be well on your way to bullet proofing your body.
If you're already injured, strength training is very therapeutic. Try tossing in some obnoxious unilateral exercises too, and do them with a high volume of sets;, these are brutally annoying. Seriously, unilateral exercises like pistol squats and one legged dumbell deadlifts are obnoxious, especially during the summer if you do them outside with flys and mosquitos and gnats getting in your eyes. Or if you have allergies. Any annoying condition you could possibly be dealing with is exacerbated by doing unilateral exercises through it. Why are bugs so attracted to unilateral exercises? I have never figured this out.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = You're tricking under the influence of stimulants often on grass while intelligently handling fatigue and implementing a well thought out, supplementary strength training protocol.
6. Start running
Runners can be some of the biggest whiners in the world when it comes to injuries. So why run? Because we're not runners, we're tricksters, and we can benefit from a few runs a month. This isn't running for distance, for speed, for endurance, cardiovascular health, or for active recovery. It's simply getting reacquainted with an ancient movement that can provide generous benefits towards general, structural health if done in moderation and done correctly.
This is what I want you to try: once or twice a week, go to a field. Take off your shoes, and run in intervals around it for 20-30 minutes. You can skip, gallop, sidestep, and be fancy if you feel the movement variety helps, otherwise just run, walk, run, walk, run, walk. Use your tricking super powers of technical mastery to run with perfect form, as if it were a highly technical exercise. I've discovered when my body is a mess, I can't do any of this without pain. But, I've found that continuing to try, helps! Yeah, I can get so stuck in my tricks and lifts and working around injuries in these activities, that I find running difficult. It shouldn't be! How out of shape am I that I can't run half a mile without problems?
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = You're tricking under the influence of stimulants often on grass while intelligently handling fatigue and implementing a well thought out, supplementary strength training protocol as well as participating in basic running.
7. Get lighter
I've found that even 10 lbs of body weight makes a tremendous difference in both how I feel in my tricking, and how strong I am. I feel powerful like a bull dozer when I'm lifting at 205 lbs, but I have more pain in my tricking and I'm less kinetic. My lifts suffer comparatively when I drop down to 195 lbs, but my tricking feels great and I'm quicker. Body weight makes a difference. If you want to be safe and be pain free, be lighter.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = You're tricking under the influence of stimulants often on grass while intelligently handling fatigue and implementing a well thought out, supplementary strength training protocol as well as participating in basic running while keeping body weight from climbing too high.
8. Clean up your tricks
I've never hurt myself cleaning up my tricks through endless repetitions. Repping the fire out of those tricks has earned me my reputation for having clean tricks (meaning: boring tricks). But clean tricks serve as excellent prerequisites for harder tricks when you're ready to start a crash tricking program and start risking it towards new moves. After repping your 540 kick for a long time, you would only need to start crashing and going through the risks of the next step up (say a jacknife) for a much shorter amount of time than if you had a sketchy 540 kick and skipped straight to a jacknife.
So as a clean trickster, you would be spending less time in the risk zone to acquire higher level moves, and by virtue of statistical detergents, you'd have a lesser chance of developing a fungal rash. In short, clean tricking is safe tricking, and safe tricking is also better than not tricking. Clean up your tricks because it's easier to make progress when your crotch isn't wildly itchy from fungal blistering or the mystery rash.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 = You're tricking under the influence of stimulants often on grass, primarily drilling tricks you can already do fairly well and cleaning up others while intelligently handling fatigue and implementing a well thought out, supplementary strength training protocol as well as participating in basic running while keeping body weight from climbing too high.
9. Trick when it's time to trick
The tricks you are goaded to do at school by Peter's Pots and that jock girl who wears sweatpants and a ball cap to all her classes mean nothing. Any feeling of obligation to prove yourself to these folks should be seen for what it is, a special form of pleading to others for acceptance: it's begging. When people ask me to do tricks when I don't feel like it, I say "No." Why? "Because I said No." I have received more respect from refusing requests from these people than from getting all nervous about being socially accepted and doing a few cold, unclean tricks. This refusal actually makes them more intrigued to bring up the topic of my tricking or my training, they realize I'm confident enough in myself that I don't need to prove it, so they continue to annoy me about it... Wait... Curses!!!
Haha, it's always happened this way, and it's happened a lot. My only exception is an aerial. And unless they're a trickster, they won't be able to specifically ask for an aerial because they don't speak the tricking language. And the only reason the aerial is my exception, is because it's easy.. erhh.. I mean because it's an aerial. "Juji, do an aerial." Anyway I know there are lots of opportunities that arise to show off that should be taken. Tricking is something fun to do and fun to show. I'm just saying that if you feel obligated to meet - e v e r y - request to do a trick, you're a tool, and you may hurt yourself. And anyway, tricking sessions are where the real fun of tricking is. Share your tricking with those who matter: your tricking family. Trick when it's time to trick. This sort of discipline is tantamount to tricking longevity and preventing clam-shock.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 = You're tricking when it's time to trick, under the influence of stimulants, often on grass, primarily drilling tricks you can already do fairly well and cleaning up others while intelligently handling fatigue and implementing a well thought out, supplementary strength training protocol, as well as participating in basic running while keeping body weight from climbing too high.
Beyond safe, pain free tricking
This recipe is sufficient for safely venturing into pain free, problem free, good feeling tricking! But we shouldn't stop here, let's go beyond it! How do we do that? We take RISKS! We do tricks that scare us. It's time to take on new challenges, it's time to try lots of new stuff, it's time to create and visualize a better end goal. Get back on the plyo floor, use the trampoline, use mats, use pits, reduce your tricking frequency a bit, back off on your strength training a bit, and evolve. Now I'm done writing this. Come back here and review next time you find yourself constantly tricking through pain and discomfort, or when your medical insurance coverage benefits stop.
I wish I had this guide 9 years ago.
Back in the early days of tricking I only trained on grass as I had no gym and I never had any serious injuries.
When I moved states I starting using a gym and personally didn’t like the floor as I always was proud of my grass tricking, but the social aspect over took and I ended up busting both ankles to the point of basically no return now.
Please help me how to trick, i just love it, help me to do it guyz…
Loved reading this, just getting into tricking & going to use all this info to prevent injuries.
Some First-Hand Advice – I tried doing a backflip today onto my memory foam bed bec. I thought It would help if I failed (which I did horribly) & my back made a C shape landed right on my upper traps (lol) & strained it. I see what you mean with tricking on grass or relatively hard packed sand like grass. If I had done it on grass yeah I would have gotten the wind knocked out of me really bad but, my back would NOT have been able to travel a few extra inches into the mattress preventing further C shape which would have saved my back.
Great article Juji. I especially liked your point about ‘getting lighter’. To provide an anecdote, I’ve gained 15 pounds from lifting/bodybuilding in the past year and now, if I land a trick improperly, my ankles take more of a beating than I ever remember before when I was sub 200lbs. Obviously in the case of those who have excessive amounts of body fat, the same situation applies! Really enjoyed your other points as well (stimulants ftw ;P)