People always want to know how they can improve in parkour, asking for tips and tricks that are guaranteed to make them better. Unfortunately there are no little tips that can be applied universally to get more distance off of your kongs, or to get those few extra inches off of a wall run since each unique situation will have its own solution; however there are three things that are common amongst all the best traceurs, three steps that can help you improve in parkour

1) Physical fitness.

You are not going to improve in parkour if you don’t work on building your strength and endurance. If you can wall pass a twelve foot wall once, you can do it again and again and again; and practicing it over and over ensures nothing more that you can pass that specific wall well. Your perfect technique on that wall will do you no good in a real life situation where you have to pass a thirteen or fourteen foot wall; only strength and an increase in physical fitness will take you those extra feet, technique no matter how perfect can only take you so far.

Even if you are outside six or more hours daily practicing and making a lot of "progress" on the technical side, you aren’t pushing yourself or your body. Practicing that vault isn’t working to increase your ability, only to perfect your technique. So after all the training technically to control the way you move, you will still be out of shape, without any power behind your movements and have poor endurance skills; these are key to progression and to be able to succeed when attempting more difficult feats.

Despite the debunking, you will need to work on the technical aspects of your training as well in order to avoid being sloppy (and thus making each move the most efficient possible), but there comes the point where you have to realize that all your time spent training the technical portion of your moves is not going to make you any faster, stronger, or have increased vaulting or climbing abilities. You will never significantly advance if you don’t begin to exercise and work out.

2) Technical training.
Physical fitness and training is what allows you to progress to more difficult feats with success, but those moves will not be worthwhile in a real life scenario if they aren’t streamlined to be the most efficient possible. The ability to jump further or higher won’t do too much if you are unable to execute a move properly. The key to success here is repetition.

I have spent entire days dedicated to certain maneuvers, spending countless hours repeating it over and over in order to make it the most efficient and effective possible. In parkour a move is most efficient if it can be done with precision, accuracy and speed without sacrificing good technique for sloppiness. Repeating a certain move over and over helps you identify your weak points; maybe you are jumping too high for a vault and sacrificing momentum and energy from that, or maybe you are rotating a little too much or too little and thus have to waste time readjusting before you can continue. Identifying these weaknesses gives you the opportunity to help turn them into strengths; practicing a vault over and over trying to get closer to the object or trying to get the most distance off of it seems mundane, but it is the time and effort put into the moves that will make them worthwhile in the future.

In a real life scenario, all the little tweaks and adjustments you have made to your movements will pay off as you can efficiently escape or chase with speed and precision; when faced with a new obstacle, you will know with confidence that you can approach it from a couple different angles and still be able to efficiently overcome it.

HERE is an article on how to improve your technique.

3) Mental endurance.
To be able to willingly participate and work to improve your physical fitness and technical ability takes a lot of patience and mental endurance. When you feel ready to give up after an hour of training, it comes down to your mental ability to give yourself another big push and keep going. Over time you will develop the ability to identify your limits both physically and mentally, and it takes a lot of effort in order to push those limits and progress further in your training. Motivation, self-confidence and a positive outlook will not come from hours in the gym or practicing a certain move, it comes from mental strength, and without it you will find it difficult to get to where you want.

You have to work over time to be able to convince yourself that you can do that move one last time, ten times, and to keep going even when you feel like giving up. It takes time and commitment in order to be able to push yourself to train and to be able to nudge yourself out of your comfort zones. It all comes from telling yourself over and over that you can do it, and telling yourself that one more wall run will not kill you. Mental endurance and strength are the only things that stand between you and the pursuer or escapee in a chase when you feel that you can’t run any longer. It is the hardest of the three keys to progress within, and the most rewarding too.

Conclusion/Summary.
These are the three keys that are essential to know and practice in order to be able to get better at parkour and progress steadily within it. While other people may stress things like learning a basic monkey vault and the likes, I believe that you need to start with a positive mindset, and then work on your physical and technical capabilities from there. It isn’t all easy, it isn’t all the fun and games that you see in YouTube videos, it can be really gritty at some times; but if you have what it takes, the willingness to continue and push forward, then you will surely succeed.

7 comments and questions

  1. tubby // 24/3/10 02:39  

    Thanks a bunch for highlighting these key elements of pk! Was just wondering...in your conclusion you mention the importance of starting with a positive mindset; could you elaborate? For example, is there anything in particular you've done to actively develop this 'mindset' (as opposed to it just evolving from years of pushing past barriers)? I ask because this is something that many traceurs talk about, but it is left as a sort of amorphous generalization. It would be great if you could get down to specifics...

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