The castaway is one of many skills that are unique to parkour. The idea of flipping from your hands, past your feet, over your hands again, and landing on your feet after rotating within arms length of a rail or ledge, is simply absurd by the standards of all other acrobatic pursuits. The level of movement efficiency that this skill has been pushed to in recent years is staggering. Literal children are hitting castaways on ledges far too small for most of us to cast, let alone pull an entire flip off of our hands. Dominick Hughes is one of the athletes pushing the envelope of the castaway, hitting the skill at a measly height of 11 inches from the ground, working new variations like elbow-casts and hands-to-hands castaways, and even single arm casts. I asked Dominick for a few tips on this increasingly popular skill, and here’s what he had to share.
1: Use your hips!
You know your hip bone? Put the ledge or bar just below your hip bone. If your ledge is above your hip bone, you’re gonna smash it against the object.
2) Use your thumbs!
Put them around the edge of the object. Some people put their hand flat on a ledge, but the thumb prevents you from slipping. A flat hand just isn't stable. Honestly whenever I see people casting with flat palms, I wonder how they can even commit to the castaway.
3) Bend your knees!
Knowing how and when to bend your knees for this skill is incredibly important. Some people will try to cast with straight legs, and you end up trying to force the skill with very little generated momentum, and your upper body will be forced to do most of the work, causing low landings and slow rotation. Bend your knees while you’re arching your back. Once you’ve completed the initial cast with bent knees and are coming in for the “snap,” straighten your knees as quickly as you can. This straightening is what pops you off of and away from the object. After this snap, your knees will bend once more for the tuck, increasing the speed of your rotation. So bend your knees, straighten, and bend again. Otherwise your rotation is slow and will only be generated by your upper body. This is one of the most important tips for advancing your castaway to lower surfaces.
4) Bend Your Elbows!
There’s a tendency athletes have when they first start learning castaways, to either keep their arms straight, or allow their elbow to bend backwards toward their torso. Keep your elbows turned outward! If you watch my elbow casts, my elbows travel away from each other like scissors on the object, this should be the case in all castaways, as it allows for a harder, faster push and more powerful rotation.
5) Head position!
If you look at Shawn Bautista or Alfred Scott’s head position in castaways, kong gainers, back tucks, etc. their head is in their crotch. This helps with your rotation speed, but is one of the more difficult tips to master, because it’s so natural to want to look back and see where you’re traveling. Resist the temptation! When I’m doing low castaways I always try to look at the object I’m taking off of. Practicing standing back tucks with good head position, chin to chest, can be very helpful.
An additional note from Dominick: Castaways are a skill that relies highly on your speed and strength, and are so physically demanding that they can even be used on their own as a workout. Keep this in mind, if you’ve achieved the skill but are having trouble taking it lower, you may be lacking strength. Take some time away from the skill itself and work on building the muscle necessary for creating explosive momentum off of your hands.
So, if you’re one of those kids striving for the lowest castaway of all time, wanting to do vertical wall castaways with Shawn Bautista, or if you’re just trying to work up the confidence to throw castaway into a pit for the first time, try these tips from Dominick. They may make all the difference.