Parkour is a popular and dynamic sport that involves using your body to navigate obstacles and environments creatively. But if you are a complete novice is Parkour hard to learn? In this article, we explore the answer to this question, taking into account factors such as physical fitness, mindset, and training approach. We discuss the challenges of learning parkour, such as overcoming fear and developing strength and agility but also highlight the benefits, including increased confidence and a sense of freedom.
If you’re a beginner considering parkour, this article will provide valuable insights and advice.
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- Introduction to Parkour
- How to start Parkour at Home
- Beginner Parkour Moves
- Assessing the Difficulty of Parkour
- Is Parkour harder than gymnastics?
- Can Learning Parkour Save Your Life?
- Final Thoughts
- Parkour combines physical skills with mental resilience.
- Suitable for beginners but requires consistent practice.
- Involves both physical strength and mental fortitude.
Introduction to Parkour
Parkour, a movement skill that turns the urban environment into a canvas for physical expression, is more than just jumping and running. It’s an art form that emphasizes efficiency and fluidity. Born from the streets of France, parkour practitioners, known as traceurs, see the city in a different light — where obstacles become opportunities for creative movement.
Physical Demands of Parkour
Parkour is undeniably physically demanding. It requires a blend of agility, strength, and endurance. Traceurs often practice rigorous routines to build up their core strength, flexibility, and balance. This physical preparation is crucial not just for performing spectacular moves but also for ensuring safety during practice.
Mental Challenges in Parkour
More than just physical strength, parkour demands mental toughness. It’s about overcoming fear, pushing limits, and maintaining focus. Traceurs must learn to trust their abilities and make split-second decisions. This mental aspect can be as challenging as the physical training, if not more.
How to start Parkour at Home
Parkour can be a hard sport for beginners but if you have a reasonable amount of agility and fitness you will be able to begin your journey from home. At a basic level, you will already need to be able to:
- Run quickly
- Jump from two feet
- Leap from one foot
- Land with control
These are fairly basic levels of agility and will enable you to move with freedom and fluidity which are the main aims of Parkour. They are also within most people’s comfort zone. If not then you will probably need to spend some time building up some basic strength and agility in the gym or at home.
Some basic fitness drills that will reduce the difficulty of learning Parkour:
- Block Jumps
From the floor jump with both feet onto a higher block. This will improve jump technique such as arm swing and will also build up leg strength. To challenge yourself further increase the height of the block. You can also use a block to learn to vault. Place your hands on first with a gap in between them and then jump into a squat shape with the feet landing in between the hands.
- Agility Ladder Drills
Not the vertical ladder but the plastic floor agility ladders that can be laid out flat on the ground! These are great for improving footwork and coordination. There are a ton of drills like sides stepping or even hopscotch that can be practiced on a ladder. You can pick up an agility ladder on Amazon for around $20.
- Pull Ups
No explanation is needed for this one but if pull-ups are too tricky just work on hanging and swinging. We have a guide to home practice on bars here. It’s aimed at gymnasts but the same drills will help build up the upper body and core strength needed in Parkour.
Being able to safely roll out of landings is essential in Parkour. Even if you don’t plan on rolling at a specific point it is often safer to roll out of a bad landing than trying to stay on your feet. If you are struggling with the rolling get yourself an inclined mat at home and follow our guide on how to forward roll here.
Beginner Parkour Moves
Once you feel you are in reasonable shape it’s time to have a go at some basic Parkour moves. As a newbie, forget about the crazy acrobatic flips and somersaults unless you have a background in gymnastics.
Most Parkour practitioners (traceurs) will recommend starting out with some basic moves that enable you to navigate simple obstacles. Such as:
- Wall Climb Ups
- Side Vault
- Ground Kong
- Tic Tac
Once you have mastered some basic movements you can try linking them together to navigate a short path. Don’t try to push too hard as a beginner just focus on building your confidence and technique in these basic movements.
Assessing the Difficulty of Parkour
Learning Curve for Beginners
Starting parkour can be both exhilarating and intimidating. For beginners, the initial challenge is often mental—overcoming the fear of injury and the self-doubt about one’s capabilities. Physically, the learning curve involves mastering basic movements like rolls, jumps, and vaults. These foundational skills are crucial and require patience and consistent practice. The community aspect of parkour also plays a significant role, offering support and shared learning experiences.
Safety and Risks in Parkour
Safety in parkour cannot be overstated. While the sport might look risky, most practitioners follow a strict regimen of safety practices. This includes warming up properly, learning techniques under experienced supervision, and understanding one’s limits. Common injuries in parkour are often the result of overestimation of abilities or lack of proper training. Beginners are advised to start slow, focus on technique, and progressively build their skills.
Mastering Advanced Techniques
The path to advanced parkour skills is long and requires dedication. It’s not just about physical strength or agility; it’s also about creativity and fluidity of movement. Advanced traceurs often spend years perfecting their technique, developing their unique style, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. This level of skill demands not only physical fitness but also a deep understanding of body mechanics and spatial awareness.
Is Parkour harder than gymnastics?
It’s difficult and not very worthwhile trying to compare the two sports as they have their own unique styles, cultures and aims. There are some obvious crossovers when you look at the moves being performed; rolls, flips, somersaults, and vaults all share the same dynamics and the same forces (eg gravity) affect the skills whether they are being performed on a rooftop or on a gymnastics floor.
Some people would argue that it is harder to learn a twisting somersault in the outdoor environment of Parkour. And they would have a valid point. There are no safety mats, foam pits and very little in the way of professional spotting and supporting. To learn multiple twisting somersaults in this way has to be harder than in a professional gymnastics facility.
The rough, hard urban environment in which Parkour is usually performed can result in some horrific collisions. Parkour is synonymous with concrete, asphalt, bricks and mortar so one tiny error can hurt… a lot!
Gymnastics facilities are increasingly becoming home to Parkour programs as people recognize its beneficial to learn more advanced tricking skills indoors before taking them into the outdoor world of Parkour.
That’s not to say gymnastics falls don’t hurt but there tend to be mats, pads and protection available in the indoor environment of gymnastics which some would argue makes it easy to learn gymnastics compared to Parkour.
Either way, it’s going to be hard to learn, and the participants of both sports are regularly performing superhuman skills that defy gravity.
I attempt to examine and compare Parkour and Gymnastics in more detail in this article, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference and there is little benefit in trying to play one off against the other.
Can Learning Parkour Save Your Life?
Parkour can help reduce serious injuries because of the physical skills you use, especially when falling. Gymnasts, stuntmen and women will also agree that one of the first things they learn is how to fall properly.
Nobody wants to fall but realistically there is a good chance that a fall will happen sooner rather than later given the inherent risk associated with certain activities.
And this kind of skill could prove useful when you least expect it during everyday life.
For example getting hit by a car when crossing the road, falling from a ladder, tripping over a curb or slipping on a step. Unfortunately people are seriously injured every day in situations like this, some fatally. So although it may sound extreme, the improved falling technique, quick reaction speed and improved fitness levels from Parkour could be useful and save your life!
Parkour is a hard sport to learn but if a beginner is aware of their own limits and works on basic fitness and techniques, Parkour can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of ability. If you are lucky enough to have an organized program or facility near you I always recommend getting professional guidance as it is safer and you will probably learn faster too.
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Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Andrew Payne