Be an active spotter at all times, ie this is generally regarded as a self-spotting exercise.
The traversing participant will only step onto the first tyre after all safety and check-in protocols have been performed.
Recognise that when a fall occurs, they usually happen quickly and may occur in any direction.
When a fall is imminent, the participant agrees that they will step off or out of the tyre.
When a falls occurs, the spotters agree to move in to support the participant and prevent them from landing on the ground as much as is possible.
Spotters will move to keep pace with the traversing participant at all times.
Spotters will provide sufficient space between their spotting stance and the participant to allow room for movement.
The participant agrees not to place their feet inside the rim of the tyres, but they may stand or sit on top of the tyre or the inner rim.
Practical Leadership Tips
Traditionally, if the participant touches the ground during the course of their traverse, they will be invited to start over.
Caution, this activity can be very physically demanding. Fatigue sets in quickly, so encourage participants to make good decisions in regards to their continued participation.
Urge your group to resist the temptation to offer or seek physical support from the spotters, eg to manipulate the position of a tyre. When a fall occurs, or the participant ends up stranded in the middle, simply encourage them to make another attempt.
This activity is usually designed to allow for the tyres to be detached from the overhead cable, to discourage unauthorised use. Or, another option is to secure the tyres with a cable or chain and lock.
Typically, the bottom of each swinging tyre is about 600mm above the ground. The drop of each hanging tyre can differ to vary the challenge of the activity.
This element can be integrated into a section of the Mohawk Ironworkers Walk, but owing to its typical difficulty, it is best designed as an individual challenge.
In case you’re wondering, yes, tyres are the same as tires – just spelt differently (in most Commonwealth countries.) The activity is sometimes called the Tire Traverse.
You could integrate Swinging Tyres as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
Depending on the level of challenge at which this element has been designed, the Swinging Tyres can be a very difficult challenge to accomplish. To this end, you can expect many people to make multiple attempts before they can successfully traverse the area. Programmatically, you may consider exploring a variety of strategies that build resilience and then present this rope course activity to practice these skills.
Paired Swinging Tyres: Invite two people starting from opposite ends to traverse the swinging tyres at the same time. Ideally, challenge the pair to pass each other in the middle of the activity.
Group Challenge: Starting from one end, challenge your group to traverse all of the swinging tyres together, often one or two people at a time. Challenge your group to complete their task as quickly as possible. If necessary, invite all others to act as spotters.
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Useful Framing Ideas
When you think of Tarzan, I’m sure you have images of Tarzan swinging through the jungle on a series of vines hung from the trees above. Would you like to be Tarzan or Jane for a few minutes…?
One of the iconic images of summertime for me was an old car tyre suspended from a rope tied to a tree limb that hung out over an inviting river. Standing on the bank of the river, with the rope or tyre in my hands, there was a rush of adrenaline when I finally jumped off and I swung out wide and high over the river, before finally letting go and splashing into the river. Sigh… so much fun. Our next activity may give you a similar thrill…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after leading this exciting challenge course activity:
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest, how difficult was this challenge to complete?
How much fun was it? Are fun and challenge related?
What risks did you take? What was at stake?
Were you surprised by how quickly you fatigued? Why is that?
As spotters, did you observe anything interesting?
What strategies did you notice about those who traversed quickly?
Did your performance improve with practice?
The inspiration for the Swinging Tyres is generally unknown but was popularised during the development of Project Adventure‘s adventure-based curriculum in the early 1970s.