My experience as a doubles competitor was a little different to that of many other doubles teams. Not only did I train multiple times a week with my doubles partner, we also lived in the same house. We quite literally lived and breathed doubles. Because my doubles partner happened to be my mum.
Some basic doubles terminology:
Base- the Hulk. The one who holds all (or the majority) of the weight. It’s your job to provide stability and safety.
Flyer- The one who gets all the glory. It’s your job to make everything look pretty.
Coming up with a routine
If you knew us well, you were always excited to see what crazy new theme we would come up with when the next competition rolled around. Our style of doubles was always comedy and it almost always came with some degree of wild hair. Whether we were green-haired workers at a chocolate factory or blue-haired escapees of the Cat-in the-Hat, we always aimed to give people a laugh.
Choreography was always the most stressful part of our doubles experience. Neither of us had any dance background before starting pole, we were from different levels and we also had injuries to cater for. Our routines developed with training. Our priority with choreography was to choose our big combos and doubles tricks first, then work on transitioning between them.
Go with your strengths! If one of you has amazing splits, make sure to include a doubles trick with a crazy split. The beauty of doubles is that you can tick the criteria boxes by playing to your strengths. If your partner is flexy, get her to tick your flexibility box for your team. If you have an iron X that you can hold for days, use a doubles trick to showcase it.
Keep in mind that your tricks should reflect your character and performance. If you are doing a heartbreakingly emotional routine, don’t throw a hello boys in.
Having both come from a background of team sports and weights training, we took our training very seriously. In the weeks leading up to a competition we would train up to four times a week at the studio and go to the gym at least five days a week. We ran combos, did strength training, trained our doubles tricks and did full run throughs of our routine. We trained with different people and ran our routines for students and instructors alike. Our training was always varied as we found this was the best way for us to train. It ensured we didn’t get bored in training sessions and we didn’t have gaps in our performances.
Training doubles incorporates many new factors into your training. As a solo competitor you do not have to rely on anyone else. You don’t have to work training sessions around someone else’s busy schedule. You don’t need to factor in the abilities of another person. These things become so important as a doubles team. It’s all about compromise. You can’t always expect your partner to do their non-preferred side in favour of your preferred. Similarly, you can’t force your partner to do all of your favourite tricks. One clear cut way to solve these disputes is to always defer to the base. Your base is your rock. She (or he) is holding your ass up in the air! The base should always be the decision maker. This goes for deciding which side a trick will be performed on as well as all of the safety. If your base tells you to get down, get down!
Have fun! The day of the competition is not the day to be stressing over that trick that you took out of your routine three weeks ago or that you should have trained more in the lead up. Today is the day to remember all of the hard work that you put into your routine and get out and enjoy your moment on the stage. This day is so much fun when you have a doubles partner to share it with.
Look after yourself on comp day. Drink lots of water, eat properly, warm up before you perform. These things can get missed along the way as it is such a busy day. But they are essential for your best performance.
Tricks of the trade
Have a safe word! This is a signal to your partner that something has gone wrong and you need to bail out of a trick. For this reason, it is usually not a “word”. You can’t yell something to your partner while you are in the middle of competing. We used a quick pinch. This is a movement that can be performed during most doubles tricks. And while it may sound painful, it is very mild when you consider the alternative.
Have days off! This is important in every aspect of competing. Your body needs time to recover. With doubles, it is also important to have days away from your partner. Competing can become stressful- mental recovery days are just as important as physical ones.
Listen to your base/flyer. This one seems obvious but many doubles teams forget about it. Your partner will be able to give you tips to make your tricks look nicer and feel safer. Mum was a serial offender for forgetting to hold on as a flyer. You can see how that would become an issue! She needed constant reminders to focus on her grip throughout tricks. Help each other out with little tips when necessary.