How to Jump a Roof Gap

How to Jump a Roof Gap

Illustration: mark thomas

When watching Bond in a rooftop pursuit, perhaps you’ve fancied yourself his athletic equal. But would you know what to do? 

“If it’s a big gap, speed up,” says Ryan Doyle, 31, co-founder of the World Freerunning and Parkour Federation and two-time winner of the Red Bull Art Of Motion freerunning contest. And what is a “big gap”? If using a few other crucial techniques, starting with a good take-off, says Doyle, “An average person can clear more than 3m.”

  • Learn how to jump (and land) successfully
  • Learn the important part your arms play 
  • Learn how to recover if things are going pear-shaped 

1 START STRONG
“The edges of a roof will usually have a lip you can use as a little step up. Find one and it’s a bonus. Take off on your strongest leg, shooting energy straight up – a 45° angle is good for height and distance. Throw both arms in front of you to propel yourself as far forward as you can.”

STAY SHARP
“While in the air, focus solely on where and how you’re going to land. Pull your legs into a tuck to reduce wind resistance, then bring both feet together in front of you. Now move your arms out behind you. If you’ve got enough momentum to clear the gap, you’re going to land straight into a roll.”

© Red Bull // YouTube

3 LAND LIKE A CAT
“A roll spreads out the impact of landing across a larger surface area, so no one part of your body has to deal with the hit alone. Watch a cat use the balls of its feet like a springboard. You’re going to land the same way, so your ankles can drop and act as shock absorbers.

There’s no weight put on your feet, because forward momentum has shifted your body weight already. Put down your hands and go into a roll. There’ll be no weight on your hands either, because you’re on your shoulders by that time. The impact is naturally dispersed.”

How to Jump a Roof Gap

© Naim Chidiac/Red Bull Content Pool

4 HAVE A PLAN B
“Doesn’t look like you’re going to make it? Stick both feet out in front of you and absorb the impact of hitting the wall by compressing your legs. Slide into a cat-grab – knees bent, balls of your feet on the wall, with your hands securely gripping the edge. Then climb up and continue the chase.”

“Watch a cat use the balls of its feet like a springboard. You’re going to land the same way”
Ryan Doyle, 31

5 DON’T TENSE UP
“You can take a fairly hefty drop if you fall straight down and land on your feet – maybe 5m. More than that and you won’t escape injury. Try to relax, as you’ll mess yourself up if tense. Open right up so your body weight makes contact with the ground as late as possible, then collapse to the side.

Create a basketball hoop with your arms to roll onto, catching the floor with your elbows, shoulders and upper body. The rest of your body needs to be as flat as possible along the ground to spread the rest of the impact.”

Ryan Doyle

© Naim Chidiac/Red Bull Content Pool

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06 2016 The Red Bulletin

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