Issue 33: Team Tirades: Consistency

This short edition is devoted to some of the ways a team can become more precise and consistent, while lowering overall stress… I’ve elected to keep this one simple to the point.


You’ll most often find that good spacing will often alleviate other problems and make practice time more gratifying… Spacing is affected primarily by four things:

Speed control

Run or step back (pull) to speed up and run or step forward (push) to slow down… With this technique you catch up or back off on command. The lead kite focuses on where to go as well as waiting for the last kite to get into position, #2’s job is to stay about 8-15 feet behind and assume a consistent distance behind #1 for everyone to match. #3 is slightly more flexible, having to float between 2 and 4 to make the spacing look even… #4 may sometimes end up running their tail off keeping up.

Turn radius

This part is quite simple, if you cut a turn slightly tighter than everyone else while following you’ll travel less distance and “go faster”. If you made a wider turn than the group, it will take longer and “go slower”. Use this technique tastefully, you don’t want to lookout of synch with your team… Find a healthy balance however and it’s barely noticable.

Kite speed

It may seem like common sense, but you would amazed how many teams fly with their kites tuned differently… This leaves them continually adjusting speed and woking much harder. Lay out all your kites and make sure that all fittings are glued in the same places and that your bridles are nearly identical in the way they are set… This way you only work to create, not so much to fix.

Matching control input

Also important is how each team member turns their kite… Even turning on the same radius, the kites will move differently if one person is using a push turn and someone else is using a pull turn… Just agree on the same method, although you can use different turns for different manuevers.

Support calls

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing as a lifetime #3 team flier is to provide softer, supplemental calls during practice and competition… I take it upon myself to keep an eye on spacing and line, and while the captain leads and issues primary commands I interject friendly reminders between calls such as:

“Line it up!”
“Tighten it up!”
“Soft hands!”
“Mind your spacing!”
“Slow it down!”

Call cadence

Get into a really comfortable and consistent cadence, or rhythm in your captain’s team calls… You can do this by making the call and then clapping your hands simutaniously a moment later. The idea here is to hear the call, and have everyone make the same movement at the same time a split second later… Repeat as needed, just like a band keeping time.


This completes the second, albeit short edition of Team Tirades. I hope you’ve found this to be of interest and encourage you to write or find me at a festival with any questions!


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