Falling is just a natural part of learning Parkour, and there is no way around it. It is inevitable that you will bail, and sometimes it will hurt. Those that can move past the fear and pain go further than those who can’t.
With that said, you should always try to bail in the safest way possible. There are several techniques you can use to protect yourself when you mess up. Learning these techniques will help prevent injury, as well as allow you to train longer because you will spend less time on the sidelines.
All the top traceurs use techniques to protect themselves when they bail. If you look at their histories, most of them have gone without a serious injury in their careers. You will need to be OK with bailing if you are going to get anywhere in this sport. The point of that advice is to let you understand that you need to keep on practicing – no matter what.
UndershootingUndershooting is when your jump does not take you all the way to your target. Many amateur traceurs try to compensate for this by leaning their bodies forward in the air. This is a grave mistake and can lead to injuries.
The proper bailing technique for an undershot jump is a "bounce back." Here you will use your feet to bounce off your target object, and shift your momentum downward. This allows you to realign your center of gravity and land on the ground without injury.
It is important that you do not stretch one leg forward, or try to fall on your stomach. The proper technique is to use both of your feet to hit the target, and shift your momentum downward.
This image illustrates the proper technique:
Overshooting is when your jump carries you past your desired target. Many newcomers to Parkour experience this because they put too much power into their jumps.
Worse, when they notice this is happening and they still try to land the jump. This usually results in falling forward and damaging your wrists or face.
You need to understand that you are overshooting the jump because you have too much momentum. If you try to plant your feet on your target, you will continue moving forward and bail.
In this situation, you need to use a "hop over." This technique is simple. When making contact with your target, simply hop over the object instead of trying to land on it.
This image shows the proper technique:
This technique only works when there is not a large drop on the other side of the object. If there is, a hop over will only serve to cause serious injury. Never try a jump over great heights unless you are extremely experienced.
In a situation with a deep drop on the other side, practice this technique:
The two techniques above teach you how to prevent yourself from falling. Next, we will cover three techniques to help you when you do fall – and trust us, you will. This is accomplished by doing something called a “break fall.” This literally means: to break your fall.
How to Fall
Back Break FallThis is a common technique used by martial artists in grappling. It involves falling backwards, and using your legs and arms to protect your head and neck. You will use your legs to absorb most of the impact, and allow your body to slowly move towards the ground.
While this is going on, your arms should be crossed over your chest – like someone in a coffin. When your body reaches the ground, you explode your arms to the side. This helps to absorb all of the impact before your head hits the ground.
These images show the proper technique:
Side FallThis is one of the safer styles of break falling. It keeps the impact away from your spine, and it is easier to control. This technique is drilled the same as the break fall, but you are landing on your side. You need to keep your legs bent upon impact. Straight legs will vibrate, and could break.
Here are two images that show the technique:
Front FallThis should be the technique you use the least. Front break falls are only for situations where your chest and head are way too far in front of you, or you have excessive momentum.
You can do two things in this situation. First, you can drain your forward momentum with a roll. You should practice rolls on a regular basis anyways.
Here is what that should look like:
You also have the option to use a kong vault to save your face. You should already know how to use a kong vault at this point. Using this technique to help you bail safely is the exact same. You are using your arms to absorb most of the impact.
Here is an example of what that looks like:
Dylan Baker: An Extreme Example
Put Knowledge Into PracticeLearning to bail correctly is one of the most important skills you can have. It will also allow you to train longer and improve faster. All of the pros have mastered these techniques. If you want to be like them, you need to master them as well.
A huge shout out to Rilla Hops YouTube channel for the videos.