Safety Issues and How to Stay Balanced on the Rola-Bola

The rola-bola is also known as bongo board, teeter board or just spelled slightly different e.g. rolla bolla. It consists of a cylinder and a board (usually wooden)judi bola – you place the board on the cylinder, and then rock and roll side to side to try to stay balanced!

It’s a bit like a one-man seesaw! Once you learn the rola-bola, you should combine it with some other tricks such as club juggling or plate spinning.

Some safety issues before we begin!

Safety for Others: When someone falls off a rola-bola, the board will fly one way (at shin height). You cannot have anyone standing at either side of the rola-bola or they may end up with a bad leg injury! It is fairly safe to stand in front or behind a rola-bola (the only thing that will fall on you is the person!) 

My tip would be to practice in the corner of a room with the board diagonally facing the wall, so that there isn’t too much space for the board to go flying in either direction. If anyone wanders into the rola-bola danger zone or tries to stand beside the rola-bola watching you practice, tell them to move or simply stop practicing.

Non-Slip: Only use solid boards with a non-slip surface.

Extra Grip: Rubber (eg a car inner tube) can be used around the cylinder to help improve grip. Skateboard grip tape can be used on the board.

Wet: Don’t perform with this prop if the board or cylinder is wet. It’s too slippy and dangerous!

Strength of Board: Make sure that board is of sufficient strength and material to be able to take the weight of you and any props you are using on it!

First Moves – Standard Balance, Stop and Start 

Feet should be equal distance apart from the middle of the board. This makes sure your weight is as equally distributed across the whole board as possible.

Your knees should remain bent at all times!

Keeping your back straight, helps you to keep the centre of gravity over the cylinder.

Eyes straight ahead helps to make sure you are not staring down at the board which can put you off-balance. It may help to focus on a point at eye level in the distance.

A standard balance is where you stand on the board with one foot at each end. The next step is to shift your weight so the board balances on top of the cylinder. You can use a support to help you get into position (such as a chair, wall, hand-rail etc).

From here, you try to keep the board from moving, and especially stop the ends from touching the ground on either side! Please note that the aim isn’t to remain still on the board, but to gently rock from side to side. Try to increase the amount of time you stay balanced until it becomes really easy. They try rocking the board faster!

How To Stop: From a standard balance position, and keeping a light contact with your support, let the board move to one side. Placing all your weight on that foot (the farthest foot from the cylinder), the end of the board should touch the floor gently. Do this as slowly as possible as there is no point in crashing the board to the ground! Attempt this move until you able to do it without holding on to any support. If you find that the board crashes to the ground, then it means that you haven’t shifted your weight properly.

How to Start: It does seem a bit silly teaching you how to start after I have taught you how to stop, but these tricks are worth learning in this order as you needed to learn how to balance first of all! From the stop position (one end of the board on the ground), slowly shift your weight back over to the other foot. This will edge the board slowly up the cylinder. You will soon begin to feel yourself tipping over the cylinder, at which point you need to shift your weight over the centre of the board once again!

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