Copied, edited and expanded from this Safety in Acro Facebook comment thread where Diane writes:
There are a number of "syndromes" (let's call them!) in our activity, that heighten injury risk dramatically.
- Bases who pride themselves on being able to base "anyone" no matter the size/fitness level/body awareness of the flyer. I have known at least two well-known AY teachers, with disabling back injuries from this exact thing, standing up in front of classes of beginners assuring them how safe the activity is.
- Bases who pride themselves on the poses they can "put" flyers into. I have seen new flyers, without the core integration or aerial awareness to fly a free star (on feet!), being "put into" an overhead back angel, "put into" a H2H, etc. Even if that trick "works," you better believe it won't when that beginner asks another BEGINNER to base her (and yes, it is usually "her") in it.
- Flyers who want to be "good sports." This was me, and I had a year-long shoulder injury as a result. You want to "try hard" and you want to make the trick "work." And you fly on people who grind your shoulders, your hips, etc., because you (and they) don't know better.
- People "teaching" this activity with a year (or less!) of experience, giving instructions and assurances that are simply based on next to nothing at all.
- The Tiny Flier Syndrome, related to (3) above, where a base who really wants to 'get the trick' but lacks the technique to do it cleanly or at all looks for the smallest flyer available to muscle through it with poor technique, putting everyone at greater risk for injury. I warn small fliers to be on the lookout for this syndrome and protect themselves. "It is always OK to say NO."
- The Tiny Spotter Syndrome, where you want to help spot things you are not capable of spotting due to size, strength, reach. This needs to stop. The false sense of security that comes with the pretense of spotting is far worse than no spotting whatsoever.
- More generally, Bad Spotting Syndrome, and it includes a spotter who is too small to catch the flyer in free fall (from a high trick), and/or who does not know any OTHER way to spot (having not been educated by Lux and hence practicing "worship spotting," meaning, standing around with your arms extended overhead hoping for a miracle), and/or who has not been told what is about to happen, and hence plants themselves directly in the "kick zone," etc. The special danger of this syndrome is that the flyer thinks they are going to be caught, and the base thinks there's a back-up. And then of course there is just garden-variety bad spotting - like the spotter in the L-based extended arm F2H that I flew, who was looking out the window as I toppled over onto my ass, narrowly missing another pair by inches.
I have a speech I give after I fly someone new for the first time, when they excited by the fun of it all, in the interest of informed consent to make them aware of some of the not-so-obvious risks of the practice.
What would you add to this list? (And any pithy names for the first four?)