Part 1: Macro-Transitions

While you hear the term “flow” thrown around a lot in Parkour, it is an aspect of movement that can be elusive without targeted practice. This series aims to clear up some of the misunderstandings that exist around conservation of momentum and along the way I’ll be giving you some tools that you can integrate into your training or teaching to help find your flow in every moment.

Fluidity (or flow) is simply conserving your momentum while moving through an environment This skill is important not only in moving fast, but also when  mixing complex acrobatics in with your movement. It is imperative that the energy loss between each movement is minimal so that you can have the greatest chance of success and safety in your training.

Macro-transitions are how well you conserve your energy for the “In Between” ; the spaces between the movements that are in your line.


For part 1 of Finding Flow we will be talking about how macro-transitions can aid us in fluidity. Macro-transitions are how well you conserve your energy for the “In Between”; the spaces between the movements that are in your line. The goal with focusing on our Macro-Transitions is to help ensure the least amount of energy loss for the In Between. Generally when I think of Macro-Transitions I break the concept down into Steps, Entry/Exit and Adaptation.

Once you understand these parts of your Macro-Transitions you should have no trouble improving the efficiency of the In Between.

The steps in between your movements will be our first visit. The goals here are to work on step length/consistency, techniques for stopping stutter steps and the importance of ambidexterity.

Step Length – “The Goldilocks Rule”

The key here is for your steps in between each movement to be “just right”.  Pay attention to the distance of your steps, which will vary depending on speed and ensure that you are keeping them as evenly metered as you can.

If your steps are too small or too large you will not be able to maximize the energy transfer from one movement to the next. Play with this concept so you can find your preferred step length with different speeds and set ups.

If your steps are too small or too large (for your speed) you will not be able to maximize the energy transfer from one movement to the next.


Step Consistency – Preempting a stutter step

Preventing a stutter step is going to be one of the main things that will improve your flow. To develop this you need to practice and develop your awareness of which foot will arrive at any given location. When walking from place to place you can give your best guess for what foot will land on a marker(like a crack in the ground, curb, etc.) and see how well you are able to guess which foot naturally will arrive there.

Train your step consistency at different speeds, with different obstacles, and different approaches so that your mind can build up the awareness and feeling of which foot will be your last step. While developing your step awareness you can begin to add these next tools for stopping stutter steps. Which tool you will use will depend on your preference and whether you are doing a single move (like a wall run or running jump) or multiple moves(like in a run).



Stopping Stutter Steps

The Goldilocks rule is a great introduction into further awareness for the in between but what if your perfectly metered steps lead you to the “wrong” foot? This is where we talk about the stutter step. A stutter step is one or multiple steps that are generally of a smaller length that may occur while approaching a movement.


Train your step consistency so that your mind can build up the awareness and the feeling of which foot will be your last step.

For a Single Move

Switch the Start Foot 

As long as you are maintaining a consistent step length and starting your run from the same location, you can switch the start foot  to change your last step for the movement. This will be helpful for any large single moves that you are working on so that you can eliminate the guesswork and any energy loss. 



For a Sequence

#1 – Ambidexterity

Ambidexterity is the ability to do use both sides equally. The more comfort you have with different vaults, jumps, rolls, etc. regardless of which side/hand/foot is used, the safer and more smooth you will be for all of your movements. This will eliminate the idea of a “wrong” side unless the environment demands a particular side or if it is a max effort movement. If you train your ambidexterity regularly it can be a great ally in making you a more fluid and well rounded athlete.

The next grouping of tools have to do with altering your step mid run. You can play with these different methods of altering your steps and see which ones make the most sense for your body and the situation. Explore them all so you have a basic level of understanding and can pick the right tool for the job. The most important concept to keep in mind for all of these methods is that they should be done as soon as you become aware of the need for a different step so you can apply the technique and then accelerate into the next movement.


#2 – Big Step

Once you feel and understand that the “wrong” foot is going to be the take off step you can take one or more large steps to get you back on track so that you can continue with minimal energy loss.


#3  – Same Foot Stride

Same concept as the Larger Steps tool, but instead you use a quick same foot stride so that you can reset which foot will be the finishing one.Both these skills are useful for different situations and you may find that you prefer one or the other.


#4 – 2 Foot Reset

For this technique you can use a plyo or 2 foot landing to “reset” your steps This allows you to pick which foot you’d like to use for your next step. Try it instead of a stride or for the landing from a vault to get a feel for where it can fit best into a run.


#5 – Early Stutter Step

You can take your stutter steps immediately after completing one movement so that you are able to accelerate through the remaining In Between with normal steps. This will give you a higher chance of accomplishing the movement/keep the run going than if you were to stutter in the middle or end of the In Between.


Acceleration > Speed

An incredibly important part of keeping your momentum between movements is understanding your controllable level of speed and ensuring there is some acceleration at the end of your in between so that, if your technique is good, you can carry as much of that energy into your next movement as possible. The key here is to pick a speed you can maintain and pump a little more energy out of it when you need for your more powerful movements.

This applies a lot for complex courses where different movements are dictated by the course. For shorter or flatter courses you may be able to sprint the entire time but if you try to keep your absolute top speed the during longer and more varied obstacles it can be more difficult to maintain and you might not have a surplus of energy when needed. This is where understanding the natural rhythm of each movement in your run will help you maintain your speed in a sustainable way.

Explore your movement tool kit and play with these tempos so you can see which ones are most effective for you at various speeds and in different situations. 


 Tempo Dictates Technique

Each movement has a range of tempos that work most effectively so you will want to verse yourself in the techniques that are best for slow, medium and fast tempos respectively. Some movements can maintain their effectiveness at many speeds, though the execution may change slightly from one tempo to the next. It’s important for you to explore your movement tool kit and play with these tempos so you can see which ones are most effective for you at various speeds and in different situations. 

Steps are just one piece of the fluidity puzzle. Now that you’ve got a grasp on how to improve that part of the in between we will cover how you can use those beautifully smooth steps in your actual movements.


Start building the awareness of your technical preferences and decrease the discrepancy between your two sides bit by bit every training.

Mastery of Ambidexterity

This will be a recurring theme for flow and it’s just as important here as it was with the steps. You may have a preference for your most powerful movements but for most of what you do, it will only make your life easier if you have a solid ability to do it on either side. This includes split foot entry on the catpass or step out landing, each side for all of your vaults, stepping movements, jumps, rolls and even being able to do your lache’s and switches with either arm to throw. This is something to start practicing now if you haven’t already. Start building the awareness of your technical preferences and decrease the discrepancy between your two sides bit by bit through training.


Explore your Start

The thing that I really enjoy about Parkour from other more regimented disciplines is that the potential amount of variables that we naturally encounter in our movements is nearly infinite. As I expand my awareness of the possibilities in the environment and my movement vocabulary, it helps create a level of newness in each training which has been instrumental in my continued engagement in Parkour. Here we will see how changing your starts can effect your training.

The Start has to do with all the different ways you can begin a movement. This subject ties a bit into my creativity topic on modifiers but here are the basics of it. The more variables you are comfortable with in your start, the less likely you are to hesitate and the more likely you are to conserve your energy when your route requires something unexpected, or when something unexpected happens.

The start modifiers below can be done in isolation until comfortable but be sure to mix them together to get the full benefit and enjoyment out of this exploration. Here are some of the ways you can modify your start to expand your movement mastery. 

    #1 – Ambidexterity

     See ambidexterity points above. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here.

    The more variables you are comfortable with in your start, the less likely you are to hesitate…

    #2 – Approach Angle

    In training try to approach your obstacle at all angles and on as many axes as you can. This will help in your ability to apply your techniques effectively regardless of where the obstacle is. I like to use the clock method to work this. Think that you are in the center of a clock and you are facing 12 o’clock. You are always in the center of the clock as you move. The obstacles may come from different “hours” in relation to your clock.

    • 12 o’clock is always in front of you
    • 3 o’clock to your right
    • 6 o’clock behind you
    • 9 o’clock to your left.

    You can practice this with the 4 main directions I just mentioned but also touch on the “hours” in between to find any holes in your technique.

    Be sure to practice maintaining the same technique regardless of your approach angle as well changing the technique to the most effective version (e.g. Left hand vs right hand step vault if the obstacle is to your right or left respectively).


    #3 – Starting Body Position

     Explore all the different positions for starting a movement. If you can complete a certain movement(E.G. Left side travel vault) regardless of your starting position it will decrease your micro-transitions for that movement and your time to start or transition into your techniques.

    It’s not always possible to go straight to a technique from some starting positions, instead you will have to add a couple steps/phases for the movement, which I’ll also refer to as micro-transitions. We will talk about that more in depth for the part 2 of this article but the basic idea will be to minimize the amount of movements from your starting position to your chosen technique. Below I’ve given you a couple base starting positions you can explore. Don’t forget to mix and match this with the other variables as you get comfortable.

    • Standing: Feet Together, left Leading, right Leading, weight in your heels, toes, etc.
    • Sitting: Seiza, cross legged, kneeling, pike, chilling, etc. 
    • Environmental: Against a wall, bar, bushes, in crawl spaces, in between obstacles, etc.

    #4 – The End is the Beginning

    So as you gain your comfort in these different starts I’d also ask you to look at your finish position of each technique as well . When you combine movements, begin to develop your ability to start and finish from different positions so you can, with training, blend your starts and finishes seemlessly into your runs.

    You can start on your finishes by seeing what finishes naturally come to you and then which finishes fit into the starts of a technique you might want to connect to. Practice the technique’s natural finish and your own natural finishes, then just like with your starts you can begin to alter your finishes to fit the techniques you want to go into. Once this is understood you can start to create different connections for your vaults, jumps, flips etc. and link them in unique, fun and creative ways with different movements.

    Play with these 4 modifiers in isolation and combination to ensure that no matter what position you end up in you’ll be able to transfer your momentum well and move effectively.


    General Notes on Entry/Exit


    …learn to dial in your ability to start and finish from different positions so you can begin to blend your starts and finishes seemlessly into your runs.

    Understand your Nature then Expand your Nature

    Understanding what movements come naturally to you comes with time, repetition and awareness. To make new movements and thoughts natural takes even more of the above.

    Think about what preferences you have during the beginning, middle and end of movements to help build up your capabilities and/or address your compensatory mechanisms.

    Video feedback can be a useful tool for this if you use it like “a spot the difference“ puzzle. You can use your video and a reference of what you are trying to achieve until you can feel when you get the technique the way you want. Some things to keep in mind for progressing your nature…

    • Find Your Preferences(take off/landing leg/hand, comfortable approach angles, etc.)
    • Ambidexterity: Once a basic understanding is developed(E.G. Multiple vaults from the same leading foot) begin to expand this nature (strive for ambidexterity, the different approach angles, starting positions etc.) and strive for the same level of consistency in all your techniques.
    • Reverse Engineer Known Movements: Build consistency in your comfortable movements so you can bridge the understanding of the technique and reverse engineer it to your other side. (think of being able to achieve 5-10 similar repetitions)
    • Learn Similar Techniques Simultaneously:  Once you start to feel safe with a movement try playing with it on the other side, with different angles, environments etc. so you can begin your mastery of the technique as early as possible.


    Apply the above techniques as they work for you and try not to ascribe to a one size fits all approach. Some moves you’ll be able to learn variations quickly and other ones may take a lot of time. Think about expanding your sphere of comfortable techniques, so that whether you are improvising, adapting or planning your route, you will be able to approach the movements with confidence.

    The best plans and training only mean so much if they fall apart when under pressure. This section will touch on the process of developing adaptive abilities so that you can apply your training during performances, competitions, and other circumstances not entirely under your control.

    Connect the Unconnected


    After you have begun to master and develop the  “natural” movement capacities, be sure to explore and play with the different end ranges of possibility for different movements. A lot of fun and growth can come from attempting to connect 2 or more seemingly incongruent movements. This struggle will help your adaptability, creativity, problem solving and tenacity.

    In addition to these benefits you may find something unique to share with your friends, peers and the world. Once you’ve found the movements that naturally fit each other it’s this exploration of fitting in movements that don’t naturally fit and making them work that shows another level of technical proficiency. This is a great intermediate level exploration concept once you have begun to develop mastery in a range of different techniques.



    Falling is moving


    This idea is something that was first shown to me in my martial arts training and I’ve found it applies just as readily to Parkour. Simply put if and when you fall/make a mistake, keep moving! The more you develop this skill, the faster you will be if and when you mess up during routes. From a creativity standpoint it can even lead to some very fun moments where you can find new movements from these falls. When you watch those that have trained this skill it can be hard to tell what movements they are doing on purpose and what is just a “happy accident”.


    Perfect the Imperfect


    The perfectionist mindset while seemingly beneficial can also create some adverse side effects in life. It can promote procrastination(I don’t have enough {insert excuse here} to do my best), hesitation(waiting until the time is right) and/or anxiety if you aren’t always doing your best. This applies in the techniques of Parkour as well.

    What happens when you don’t have enough run up for that wall run, when the hands slip on the climb up,  and how will you react to a short and awkward run up into a jump?

    Let’s be imperfectionists, opportunists that do our best regardless of the circumstances, doing what is needed to accomplish our goals regardless of how favorable the prevailing winds may be.

    • Imperfect Environments: Find the awkward and imperfect environments and see what can be created there.
    • Imperfect Timing: Waiting for situations to be perfect can help but don’t only use this tool. While you develop impeccable timing in your movements also develop the ability to complete your task/technique when situations aren’t perfect.
    • Imperfect Physical/Mental state: How can you SAFELY train or move while stressed, injured, restricting your movement, lacking sleep/food, etc. *It’s not efficient or safe to injure yourself so be sure to keep your awareness high and your ego in check whenever exploring these concepts so you can keep progressing. Understand you may not always be able to train safely depending on your physical and mental state. It cultivates strength and wisdom to know when to rest and not train as well, despite our urges to keep pushing.

    Let’s be imperfectionists, opportunists that do our best regardless of the circumstances, doing what is needed to accomplish our goals regardless of how favorable the prevailing winds may be.

    This concludes Part 1 of Finding Flow. The techniques above are all focused on the macro-transitions idea of flow and how we can increase our energy efficiency in our movement by focusing more on what’s happening around our techniques, not just the movements themselves. Part 2 will be focused a bit more on micro-transitions and how we can better use and understand our momentum inside our techniques to aid our flow.


    Thanks for reading and don’t stop moving!