Learning the Lift

Learning the Liftby Lara Eastburn

That hoop is rocking all around your body. You’ve got this. You’re HOOPING. And now you feel an itch. An aching can’t-stop-it-itch to expand the reach of your hoop dance. First step? Getting that hoop in the air and spinning above your head. For many hoopers, moving the hoop from the body overhead to the hand is the first movement we learn after waist hooping. The Lift is a portal, a sort-of rite-of-passage into a brand new universe of what you can do with a hoop. Are you new to hooping and dying to learn how to do this? Or are you a teacher yearning for a new way to bring this initial move to your hoopers? Maybe you learned to lift one particular way and don’t know there are other ways to do it? Well, let’s dig in and lift our hoops and our spirits! Here’s to the art of moving the hoop from the waist to the hand.

Overhead Preparation. Lifting is one thing. Knowing what to do when your hoop is in your hand is another. So I like learning this backwards. Get a feel for what it’s like to have your hoop in your hand and over your head before it gets there. MAKE AN L with your dominant hooping hand. If you hoop to the left, this will be your right hand. If you hoop to the right, it will be your left hand. You make an “L” so that the hoop doesn’t slide down your arm. Your thumb keeps it safely in your hand.

Now take it down a notch. Your hand is smaller than your waist. That means you don’t have to exert as much energy to get it to go around. Relax your hand. It’s okay. Keep an “L” as you slowly turn the hoop over your head. Try lightly gripping the hoop every time it comes around, but you don’t have to man-handle it. You’ve got Centripetal force on your side. Does it wobble? Do you feel like it’s going to fall?  That’s cool. Let it wobble. Let it fall. Your arm and hand and fingers are learning. Be patient with them.

Ready to Lift? Once you feel confident overhead, you’re ready to give that lift a go. It can be a little intimidating, for sure. Are you gonna bop yourself in the nose a couple times? Yes, that’s probably going to happen. It’s gonna hurt a little. Are you likely to catapult your hoop 10 feet in any given direction while you learn? Oh, yeah. Make sure you’ve got lots of room to work with. Give yourself a mighty pep talk and go for it.

1) The “Classic” Lift. Get a good waist hoop rhythm going and hold your “L” fingers pointed down slightly to the side of the middle of your back closest to your lifting hand. Feel the hoop go over your hand each time it comes around. When you’re ready, use that hand to lift your hoop overhead. Stay loose – if you grip the hoop too tightly, it will stop moving and you’re more likely to bonk yourself. Repeat.

2) The Scoop. You can also lift the hoop overhead by using a scooping motion in front of your body. Make a “C” with your lifting hand and “scoop” up. Try either hand – one will feel more comfortable than the other. Some hoopers find the scoop easier at first. Success is the goal – but even if you dig the scoop best, I recommend learning both lifting methods for versatility later.

Now I know how much visuals can help here. So I offer you Jon Coyne of Hoop Smiles with this very clear tutorial.

Here’s what actually worked for me. Many can expect to pull off one of the lifts after 10-20 tries. Yeah, it took me a lot longer than that. I’m the type to focus on the instructions and try to make it perfect. In the end, though, my first successful lift came more intuitively. I stopped thinking about it. And here’s how. I was practicing at a gathering of friends in a big wide field. I was moaning and groaning as the hoop flew and I chased it, over and over again. Was I ever going to get this? Aaaaaargh!!! Then a guy walked by, stopped and looked at me for a minute. Then he said, “Just lift it.” In my head, I thought, “Yeah, just lift it.” And bam! It happened. It took many more times to do it again, but I knew it was possible. And found that every time I said to myself, “Just lift it” and didn’t think about HOW to do it, my body did it for me.

Practice makes permanent, so just keep at it. Each time, you’re teaching your muscles what to do, and they will remember! They’re so clever. With each lift, you’ll grow more confident. This is the mechanics. After you’ve got it, you get to spend lots of time “making it pretty.” Which you should enjoy tons. Happy Lifting, my hooping friends!


Lara Eastburn Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. She’s also the driving force behind Circumference with online and live business and marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.

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