Unlike ordinary playground swings, a Russian swing has steel bars instead of ropes, and its swinging platform is able to rotate 360 degrees around the horizontal bar from which it is suspended. Two or more acrobats stand on the swing platform, pumping it back and forth until it is swinging in high arcs. This motion increases the centrifugal force of the flyer (the acrobat who is going to jump). The flyer then lets go of the swing at the peak of its arc, gaining enough altitude to execute one of various aerial flips before landing at a distance from the swing. The flyer may land on a crash mat, in a vertically slanted net, in the arms of other acrobats (referred to as catchers), in a pool of water, or even on the platform of another Russian swing.
Performing companies whose shows have used the Russian swing include:
- Cirque du Soleil (Saltimbanco, O, Varekai, Love)
- Flying Angels
- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Zing Zang Zoom)
- Moscow State Circus
- Troupe Shatalov
- UniverSoul Circus (Zhukau acrobatic troupe)
- Vorobiev Troupe
- Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University
- Rodney Huey (ed.). "International Guide to the Circus" (PDF). Fédération Mondiale du Cirque. p. 12. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "Glossary". Circopedia: The Free Encyclopedia of the International Circus. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Russian Swing in "O" (filmclip)
- "139th Edition Field Trip Kit: Circus Science: Understanding Gravity with the Gravity-Defying Russian Swing Act" (PDF). Feld Entertainment. 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "UniverSoul Circus - Zhukau Acrobatics - Russian swing". UniverSoul Circus. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "Vorobiev Troupe Video 2007". Circopedia: The Free Encyclopedia of the International Circus. Retrieved 13 January 2013.