Some traceurs like to train in large groups; some prefer to train on their own. A new traceur may wonder: “Which should I choose? Should I train by myself or in a large group?” I don’t intend to say that one should be chosen over the other, that is a choice for you to make on your own; however I can provide some points for each one so that you can make a better choice.

Group Training.
Training in groups can provide a wide variety of experiences; depending on who you are training with as well as the size of the group. Training in a new environment or trying new moves while with other traceurs is extremely beneficial as they can spot you and provide additional safety as well as provide critique in order to help you to perfect your technique. One thing you don’t get when you’re training by yourself is the multiple angles and views that other traceurs may have; this can be used as an advantage as you may see a new or different way to pass an obstacle and eventually acquire the ability to look at an object and list off a number of ways to pass it, as well as which may be the most efficient. Members in a parkour group help each other, and this learning and helpful environment is greatly beneficial in the developmental stages in a traceur’s journey. Another benefit of training in a group is: it is fun! You not only gain valuable experience but can share memories, make new friends, play games (the game “grounder” can be particularly difficult when the participants are all practicing traceurs) and more while learning and practicing parkour.

There are however cons to both choices as well that need to be addressed. If the group you are with are much more advanced than you and don’t take as much notice, you may end up sitting out and just watching some of the time. Alternatively, you could also attempt the harder stuff in order to fit in or through pressure, and risk injuring yourself. While it is good to learn your limits and push them, you don’t want to go and attempt to copy the others; you will not improve this way. You will only risk injuring yourself, be it in the present, or in the future due to accumulation. The same can apply for people at your level; if they get you to try something that you are not ready for, then again you risk injuring yourself, and you can not do parkour with a broken leg or in a coma. If the group is more advanced, you may also end up feeling sad that you can’t do what they make out to be so easy; you may come to think that you aren’t cut out for parkour when really you just started out with people above your level. In a larger group you may not get the support that you need in order to advance, and may find that you remain at a stand still. There are many cons unlisted, but just as with the pros, it all depends on the group you are with.

Solo Training.
When you train by yourself, you have to push yourself much harder, and benefit from this. Without the influence of others, it becomes a lot harder to get yourself to try that precision or try a cat leap over that huge gap. It is this increased difficulty that causes you to work yourself and push yourself harder. You get to learn your limits physically and mentally and learn to push them both. With out the comfort and safety provided by a group environment, you reexamine your surroundings and become used to them in a way that is more fitting to a real life situation where your goal is to escape or get to a certain point as fast as possible. In this case you would have whole new obstacles, and you have to be able to know your limits and know yourself enough that you don’t second guess. A big part of parkour is getting to know yourself and when you train by yourself there is a great deal of self exploration as you question whether you can make that gap et cetera. Whereas with a group session you would force yourself to overcome that gap and nail that precision under the influence and comfort provided by the others, by yourself you will stutter physically and mentally trying not to second guess yourself as you try as hard as you can to get yourself to leap up and out of your comfort zone. Training by yourself can help you realize what you truly can and cannot do, and can help you better understand yourself physically and mentally.

Training by yourself is not recommended until you get the basic safety techniques down (landings and shoulder rolls). When training you are more open to injury unless you have had some prior experience; if you don’t know what you are doing you are very susceptible to injury. If you are injured in any form of severity, you may not have a means of getting medical attention if you don’t have (m)any people around you. Being alone and injured is a frightening experience, and it is as such that I recommend that only traceurs with some prior experience attempt to train on their own. Furthermore if you intend to get anything out of training by yourself, you have to be very self motivated and ready to take initiative. Without other people around you to help get yourself moving, you may find yourself sitting in a hole. If you do not try and motivate yourself to the extent that you are actually doing things and moving around, you will never progress and might as well have stayed at home. The main risks of training solo are the possibility of injury (not necessarily from over exertion or trying things you aren’t ready for, but mainly from improper technique) and the possibility that you may not experience any progress due to a lack of effort.

Where to find a group.
Often I have found while out training that traceurs may find you, however there are options that don't require you to just hope while out training. There are many online parkour communities ranging from websites to forum sections to Facebook groups, all you have to do is look. When you locate a community you will most likely wish to post your name, age and gender (though these are often optional), location and what exactly you are looking for. For example I might say:
My name is Pic-Pac. I am a seventeen year old male from Lisses, France. I am looking for a training partner or group of traceurs who are experienced, are willing to help and know the city well.

I hope this article was reasonably beneficial and worth the read. If you have any comments, questions or ideas for future articles please write them as a comment on this article until the possible future when a comment box may be installed.

Conclusion/Summary.
I like to train in groups. I recommend that everyone try their best to train with at least one more person on a regular basis. On the other hand I always emphasize the importance of training by yourself, and I think that if you find yourself motivated enough and comfortable with the basics of parkour then you should try to train a couple times a month by yourself, even if only for an hour or less. I like to keep a variety a mixture of the two, but the choice is yours. I have presented you with some of the pros and cons (I emphasize “some”, as it would be very difficult to map out a complete list as it varies with each different situation) and it is now up to you to decide for yourself how you will fit the two options into your training regimen.

1 comments and questions

  1. Anonymous // 6/8/08 20:56  

    Thanks for the insightful tips, PicPac.

    I really like the creative diagram you've put together, contrasting the benefits of individual vs. group training!