Issue 6: Doin’ It Indoors

Well, it is that time of year again. The days are becoming increasingly shorter and colder. It can only mean one thing: It’s time to put the outdoor kites in the closet and head for a gym with the indoor kites.

For various reasons, I had not flown indoors for more than four months this summer. This past Saturday I flew indoors at a local event and I was anxious to fly again. I was afraid I had forgotten how. I know I have forgotten last season’s routine that I spent so many hours practicing.

When I walked into the gym I didn’t even set up my old favorite right away. I tried a new kite that I’ve never flown before. I could always blame it on the kite if I looked bad. The new kite was doing nicely and I started to feel good about myself. No one wants to look foolish.

I got out the Great Deca. My friend. It was magical, almost like those corny movies. I still didn’t remember my routine, but I did remember some of the better parts of it. Oh it was good to be home. I missed indoor flying.

People are still not trying indoor flying because they feel they can not find a place to do it. I know the feeling well. However, you can find a place. They can be as near as your local school.

If you are not successful in finding a place or you feel intimidated to make such a crazy request, then perhaps you should seek out others who may be interested. There is strength in numbers. Form a local kite club, nothing fancy, and approach a local school, college or YMCA. They all have gymnasiums and should be available to the public at certain times. If there is a cost involved to rent the facility, hold a monthly fun fly and split the cost amongst the participants.

Since 1996, I’ve been attending the monthly indoor flies sponsored by the folks of Kites Over New England. A nicer group you won’t find. They hold a fly on the first Saturday of the month. It takes me about 3 1/2 hours each way and usually costs me about $5.00 to fly, but it is well worth it. Heck, on the nights when I can’t drive back, I have a standing invitation to stay over at a friend’s house. A friend I would not have had it not been for indoor flying.

Now I have a new group much closer to home that is holding monthly flies. They are just as nice, but you know, I’m still going to attend the other fly as well.

So band together with the local fliers and bring the sport you love so much indoors. Don’t go without kiting just because the weather is colder and it’s dark by the time you get home. A whole other world awaits.

And if you are tired of having fun while indoor flying, try competing. Just kidding. Competition does have it’s place. This past season I was able to make four events and enjoyed each one.

What goes into an indoor routine? It’s can’t be much different then outdoor routines, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t compete outdoors.

For me, I tried to do it by formulating a plan. Here’s how it went:

1. Write down all the different maneuvers you know how to do. All of them, good and bad. Decide which ones you do the best and which you do the worst. Decide whether it is worth the risk of doing the ones you do the worst. You may want to practice them more. After all, you should have at least two or three maneuvers that have a higher degree of difficulty.

2. Next comes selecting music. If your list of maneuvers is on the short side, pick a short song. If you just go out there and do up and overs and ground passes, you may not do so well. You want to avoid repetition. However, a short program composed of clean well executed simple moves may be just the trick to do well against a routine with a higher difficulty that is not well executed.

3. After selecting the music, put it on a cassette with at least five repetitions of the song. That is, record the same song on the same side of the cassette five times. Get a Walkman type cassette player and just begin flying to the music.

Do this many many times. Eventually you will notice that certain moves fit into a particular part of the music. You may want to videotape yourself after awhile. Sometimes you can get a better idea of what looks good this way.

In order to videotape yourself, you will need to be able to hear the music while watching yourself. I did this in two ways. One is to simply use a boom box so you can play the music near the camera and loud enough so the microphone picks it up. Another is to use the headphones, but provide a visual cue to start the song at home while viewing the tape. In other words, you may need to do something at the beginning of the song such as snap your fingers, clap your hands or something to that effect that signals that the music has started. When you view the tape and see the cue, start the same music at home. It may not be exact, but it will be close enough.

4. Once you have enough chunks of the music that you have moves for, piece them together. A word of advice, have a strong beginning and ending. Start out with a bang. It will grab the judge’s and the audience’s attention. You can keep that attention by performing clean, non repetitive maneuvers. If they start to see the same thing over and over, you’ll loose them. You can piece the chunks of your routine together with simple things. Just do them perfectly, it doesn’t matter how simple or easy they are.

Your finish should be your best move. It would be nice if it had a high difficulty factor. Start with a bang, have a clean middle and finish with a bang. The finish is what will be fresh in everyone’s minds.

A very important ingredient is to be grateful for the applause you receive. I can’t speak for the judges, but the audience wants someone who appears confident, yet humble. And that applause in indoor competition IS important. 15% of your score comes from entertainment value. It will be tough for a judge to ignore the cheers of the crowd when gauging this aspect of your score. And that 15% could mean the difference in winning the event.

But, the most important part of a routine is PRACTICE. However, don’t practice the same routine more then five times in any one session. I’m not sure why, but when I would practice, if I went more then five times, I really started to look bad. I was over doing it. Usually the first and second time were the best. After that it went down hill. So I made five times the limit. That means you only have to practice no more then 20 minutes at a time. The song can’t be more then four minutes and five times four is twenty. Not too bad, right? The rest of the time you can spend figuring out some new moves you can add in. But you have to practice!

Another advantage to so much practice and to choreographing the routine is that should you mess up at any point in the song, you will know where to pick up and continue. So you loose a point or two. Go on as if nothing happened and keep telling yourself everyone else is going to screw up too. It worked for me. :o)

On the subject of indoor events, it is becoming more obvious that the various organizing bodies are going to have to take indoor flying more seriously some time in the future.

In the past, the indoor event, if one was even held, has been scheduled at times when it would not conflict with other events. This usually meant that it was held on days when there are no other events. And that usually meant that there was not much in the way of participation. Indoor events are mostly held on the Friday night preceding the weekend’s events, with the exception of Wildwood, and that is just as bad. This one is held on Monday of the Memorial Day weekend. If it’s held on Friday, it’s usually at 6 or 7 p.m.. This doesn’t give folks a chance to get there after work, so if you want to compete indoors, you may have to loose a day of work. Not to mention having to pay for another night stay. For the Monday event at Wildwood, it’s in the afternoon when many people are already on their way home trying to beat the crowds.

I myself don’t see this trend changing anytime soon. Personally, I feel that if indoor flying is going to come into it’s own, then we the participants need to come together and form an organizing body to ensure that we hold our own events, separate from the summer events. Clearly this is a seasonal sport, so why not hold separate events. When the sun is shining and it’s warm out, who thinks of flying indoors? Well, other than me. Besides we’re always looking for things to do in the winter months.

The AKA is waiting to see if indoor flying will take off before it even comes up with extensive rules. Heck, they award points for the indoor events but don’t even bother to hold an indoor event at the Nationals. As of now, indoor events are “open class”. There are no categories, no classes. Why would a novice even consider trying?

So what if only one or two people sign up for a category or class? The next time people will see how easy it can be to take 1st or 2nd and decide to give it a try themselves. Before you know it, you have a full class of fliers. How many people flew in Master’s Class the first year of the AKA?

Besides, competition shouldn’t even be the main reason for holding events. The main reason is because it’s just so much fun. And we need to spread the word. Involve the public, get new blood into the sport. Kiting in general needs to grow. Manufacturers and retailers are starting to realize that they can’t keep selling new kites to people who already have kites.

So do what you can to encourage the growth of indoor flying. Form a group and drag a friend along who hasn’t flown indoors yet. Tell them to bring a fan along. When registering for an event this season, tell the organizer that you would love to compete indoors but can’t afford an extra night’s stay, or time off from work to get to it. Talk to your AKA reps and push for better defined rules, classes and categories. Let people like Roger Chewning know that you would attend a major indoor only event.

I don’t know about you, but I love indoor flying and I want to share it with the world. So grab those indoor kites, practice lots and I’ll see you indoors.

Next month I’ll be doing a review on the Isis. This is an indoor/ultra light designed by Pierre Marzin and manufactured by HQ. I was able to borrow Chistoph Fokken’s Isis on his recent trip to the USA and my initial reaction was very favorable. I have one on order and will do an extensive review for next time.

In the meantime, watch for my web site coming soon, sometime after Nov. 1st. The address is http://www.yikeskites.com

And as always, I welcome your comments. Let me know if you are enjoying these articles and if there is anything you would like to see. Take care.