It happens to all of us, from the novice hoop dancer to even the most veteran of performers. You spend so much time mastering a hoop trick or flow sequence, that your brain gets stuck in the movement pattern you’ve practiced.  You can see this in a hoop jam or a performance, where inevitably you fall back on the patterns that your brain and body know, the sequences that are comfortable.  This can lead to stagnation, boredom, or feeling “stuck” in your hoop dance flow.  Today we are going to give you 9 ways to freshen up an old trick and break out of your “hooping habits” that will re-energize your mind and just might help you invent the next amazing hoop trick.

One Hoop Trick, Multiple Variations

Using our cheat, sheet, we took the basic hoop smear and modified it with speed change, body position changes, grip change, vertical position change, one leg execution and turning.  And not to worry – if you want to learn the basic smear, we’ve listed tutorial resources at the bottom of the article!

When all else fails, ask a fellow hooper or hoop coach for help or ask them to show you how they perform a trick or a certain combination of tricks.  You’ll find that everyone has a slightly different spin on things and watching and working with someone else can you help you get “unstuck”.

Use Our Cheat Sheet to Add Interest to a Trick That's Lost Its Luster

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    Break It!

    Add a break into your flow.  Sending your hoop in the opposite direction creates visual appeal.  Try breaks while waist, shoulder hooping and even at the top of your escalator.

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    Do It On One Leg

    If you’ve mastered a hoop dance skill, how can you make it visually more appealing or interesting by balancing on one leg?  Can you perform the same trick with one leg to the side or behind you?

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    Change Your Speed

    Change the look of your hoop dance trick by speeding up the trick or dramatically slowing down the skill.   Practice how fast you can perform a skill AND how slow can you perform a skill.  You can also change the speed of an entire hoop dance sequence to give it a big time makeover. Hint, a change of music is super helpful for changing the speed of a trick or sequence.

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    Take It Up Or Down

    How can you perform the same hoop dance skill but move your body either up or down into a kneeling, sitting or deep lunge position?  Think of the hoop dance trick as “fixed” but your body now moves.

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    Change Your Foot Work

    How can you change YOUR footwork while you perform your hoop trick?  If the hoop trick stays constant, what can you do with your feet and legs to make it visually more interesting?  Can you use more of your space?  Can you move in a large circle while you perform the trick?

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    Add a Second Hoop

    Once you’ve mastered a basic figure eight, adding a second hoop can keep you challenged for well, let’s just be honest – forever.  You can also add a second hoop in the horizontal plane and start to learn how to split them.  And doubles adds another level to creativity to keep both your mind and body occupied!

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    Change Your Angle

    Once you’ve mastered a trick and have clean “plane” lines, consider changing the angle of the hoop.  A classic example of this is a figure eight or basic weave with your hoop.  You want the plane of your hoop to stay in plane, meaning it’s not flying off at weird angles through your trick.  But can you change the angle on purpose to give the trick a new look?

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    Change Your Body Position

    How can you change YOUR body position through a trick to add visual interest?  Can you add a body wave to a simple figure eight or pass? Can you change your arm position?  Can you turn while performing the trick?

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    Reverse the Direction

    Try reversing the direction of the trick to add visual appeal and illusion.  Performing a trick in two directions creates a nice symmetry!

Learn the Hoop Smear!

Basic Smear Tutorial with Alisha Donnelly:

No Hand Smear with Sheri Alice:

Smear Variations with Deanne Love:

About The Author:

Leigh Little, Hula Hoop Expert

Leigh Little is a certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Precision Nutrition Certified. She is a hoop dance performer and regular Canyon Hoops contributor with blog articles and videos and is the creator of Canyon Hoops Hoop Fitness DVD.  To work with Leigh one on one for hoop fitness, dance, or weight loss contact her at

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