# backspin/frontspin help needed

The backspin and frontspin are defined in the USA Rulebook, page 51, section 8.4.8. They are Level 6 skills and have a very strict definition.

If you go to this web site and view the backspin the turn is accomplished using the pedals, which is correct:
http://www.unicyclist.org/cont/levels.cfm

The problem I’m having is in making the “cusp” small enough to fit in the required 30cm boundary. If I use a 1/2 revolution forward to get into 90 degrees of the cusp, and a half revolution backwards to get out of it (total of 180) the point of the cusp is outside the 30cm. What is the proper pedal movement to accomplish the forward half of the cusp, then backward while keeping within the boundary?

Any help is greatly appreciated. For such a seemingly simple skill it’s driving me crazy keeping the line within the required boundary.

BTW: Ignore the video of the front spin. The turn he makes is with his shoulders, his pedals don’t move, which is incorrect according to official sources at USA.

The objective in those spins is to keep a smooth riding flow in the direction you’re going. Without slowing down. If you figure out how to accomplish that, you don’t need as much cusp. It’s not like making a 3-point turn, it should be more like a stunt driver flawlessly flipping a car from reverse to foward. Leo has the right idea in his videos, but he’s missing the smoothness.

It starts with the upper body, like Leo’s example start your shoulders in the direction of your rotation, then smoothly snap the wheel to the other direction as you continue the rotation until you’re facing the other way. I wish I had a video clip of that to point to…

Thanks, John. What’s killing me is the description clearly shows the cusp and it aint small! I’ve spoken to a couple of USA directors and they both say the cusp needs to be made with pedal movement, not with the shoulders, but nobody can show me what that movement looks like. Our team wants to be consistent with USA requirements but it’s getting increasing difficult as our riders reach higher skill levels.

As an organization USA really needs video examples of how to get into, through, and out of each skill. Alan Tepper and I started such an effort but never got passed the planning stage. I guess TCUC had similar aspirations, I emailed them and Connie directly but haven’t heard back yet. If you run accross a video of this skill (or better yet make one yourself!) please let me know.

I think when you do it with a complete twist of the wheel, it doesn’t have the fluidity that makes it look nice. Those two moves aren’t as simple to describe as most. I think when it’s done well, it’s a combination of Leo’s example with a little bit of a cusp to keep the wheel flowing. Try mixing the two together. Remember, keep the momentum going.

Please mind, that are not the USA levels, but the IUF levels.

Both the front- as backspin video was recorded by an official IUF tester, who’s allowed to examine all 10 levels, and who’d knew the purpose of this recording, and would have told me if it was unacceptable as example.

It may be possible that the USA definitions may have been added and/or altered after publication of the mentioned “corresponding” video.
Leo (not a USA member anymore) never got the memo or received feedback.

I guess you now can guess what was my motivation back in 2001 (or actually earlier).
It’s an awfull lot of work. And requires besides time also many people.
And unicycle.tv which came in 2005 had a different kind of setup / purpose.
So I’m not surprised that in 2012 there isn’t much else.
But recently I found a new studio where I now practice (see the 180 panaroma), and I was thinking about redoing all of them but better.
I will keep this one in mind, and may record it from the air.
Anyway, even without the notify, thanks for bringing this up. If there is more things like this, please let me know, so I can make things better.

Hi Leo!

I really appreciate the videos and look forward to anything new you have in mind. I’m a visual learner so it helps to see the skill being performed instead of simply reading about it. I can see it is a LOT of work, there are many skills and you do them well.

I checked the IUF Rulebook and it is identicle to the USA Rulebook for those skills. Perhaps back in 2001 they were different, which is quite possible. There has been a lot of work to align the IUF and USA Rulebooks. I apologize if I sound critical, that is no my intent.

My frustration is in finding a video example that satifies the current definition of the frontspin/backspin. Using the half revolution in the backspin you did appears to go outside of the 30cm boundary, I measured it with my 20" tire. This is not your fault as the definition of the skills may have been different then. It would be helpful to see a video shot from above or behind that clearly shows the wheel staying withing the 30cm requirement.

BTW: nice photography studio!

You now got me curious, and I looked it up also; the change came in the 2010 IUF rulebook. The 2008 IUF rulebook has still the original rules. This also means that the mount examples videos are probably showing now “unacceptable” skills.

I was kicked of the 2010 rulebook committee for not competing in IUF competition recently. All activity was not public then. So until you started this thread I was unaware of this change, although I knew the USA rules already had these additional definitions (and long before published they already were applied - but vague to me as I could not look them up).
First thing I though when reading this was in deed this impossible sizing problem / conflicting definition there now is, because by head I know one revolution of a 20" wheel is about 1.57 meter. So even a quarter revolution is more than 30cm, and for 24 inch even more.
Currently I’m aboard the rulebook committee again. Maybe we should make a correction.

and

Ha; well, the side that you can’t see in the picture has a balcony, and there are trusts in the ceiling (used for lights and used by aerial acrobats). So I promise it will be the 1st thing I’ll do once I have it available again and have time, but I’m afraid that wont be this month.

I’m on the USA Rulebook committee this year so we should coordinate efforts if you determine a change is valid. I’ll see if I can dig up some more information on how the turn is supposed to be made, 30cm seems too small without doing a partial 180 spin.

It seems there is no such definition as you mentioned in the 1st post;
neither in the USA as in the IUF rules mentions a “½ revolution”.
Meaning the skill has to be performed within a ¼ revolution…
(it would have made more sense if it was defined compatible with different wheel-sizing, in stead of “30 cm parallel”)

My last post crossed your last post:

I think having the “30 cm” replaced by either a ¼ or ½ a revolution would be better, plus more fair regardless of wheel-size.
Or maybe ⅓; up to what the committee thinks about it.

Let’s make the IUF committee vote, and have the USA adapt in case it results in a change?

This would be my draft:

BACKGROUND:
Section 8.4.8 is causing difficulty to be inconsistent depending on which wheelsize is used. Although that’s the case with all circle size definitions, this one could be tackled easily.

OLD:
8.4.8 Level 6: Back turn/Front turn
An adequate back turn/front turn is a continuous, linear flow of motion by the body while the wheel changes direction. The motion should be fluid, and not like a turn, stop and turn, and the proper path looks like a cusp. Front turns and back turns must be performed within two lines 30 cm apart. This picture is a back turn. For a front turn reverse the riding direction.

PROPOSAL:
8.4.8 Level 6: Backspin/Frontspin
An adequate backspin/frontspin is a continuous, linear motion by the body while the wheel changes direction. The motion should be fluid, not like a turn, stop and turn. The proper path looks like a cusp. The change of direction must be performed within X* a wheel-revolution. This illustration is a backspin. For a frontspin reverse the riding direction.

BODY
X* = a ¼, a ⅓ or ½ a revolution. Please tell in the comments what you think is acceptable for this level 6 skill. Then before puting this proposal to vote I’ll revise to what seems most agreed on. My own opinion is that ¼ is too few, ⅓ is better, and ½ much but still valid. So I would say ½ a wheel revolution.

REFERENCES

Also, with the eye on international readers I think that “linear motion” is better translated when called “vertical motion”.
Please, let me know what you think of this.

As a native speaker, “vertical motion” does not work at all.

I think it would be quite interesting for a good freestyle rider (like Leo) to complete a visually correct (one an IUF tester would approve) frontspin/backspin (with the possibility that it is not within 30cm lines) with a wet or chalked tire. Then measure how big the cusp is. If possible, perform this with multiple wheel and crank sizes. Also by multiple riders for extra data.

I like it, and I like scotthue’s proposal as well. The better it can be documented the more likely it will be clear and accepted. If you can get it past IUF it will be more likely to get past USA.

Hi Leo!

BTW: I still haven’t received a video from anyone showing the proper way to execute these skills per the current USA rulebook. Sheesh!

Yes, that proposal passed on Nov. 25, with 1/2 revolution as the max. width for the transition. So now it’s proportional to wheel size.

Sounds like nobody is working on videos. There’s an old video, like VHS video, made in 1989 of the 10 levels as they were then. The basics of Frontspin/Backspin haven’t changed, so I wonder if that one shows an acceptable version? I’m not about to dig up a VCR to find out…

But I think you guys are being way too anal on the definitions of these things. When it’s done right, a “proper” Frontspin or Backspin is easy to see. It’s much easier to ride than it is to understand. The overall width of the move should be less important than a smooth transition from one direction to the other.

I didn’t know the USA had a Rulebook Committee going on. Is there anything publicly viewable of that? It would be interesting to see what you guys are working on.

I’m on the committee, try here: http://usarulebook2012.herokuapp.com/
Not a lot of action but you wouldn’t want to change too much at once anyway. Unfortunately the date for submitting proposed USA rule changes has passed.

I guess I may have sent the notify to you to a wrong email address or otherwise failed…

Minor detail: Dec. 23, but more important, yes, proposal #34 passed.

Well, yes, it requires a couple of ingredients that -even if available- still seem incredible hard to arrange to have them all together at the same time.
I had the luck to live nearby a full tester, who I met frequently in a gym.

After I finished unicycle.tv last week I will start to convert unicyclist.org the same way.
And I have an amazing studio available, and this time I will use a headset for some (limited) pointers, to get better / more useful / more attractive teaching material.

I received a copy of that entire tape, with permission to publish it, but my EU/US/JP recorder with 5 reading-spools was still unable to play it, and so I couldn’t convert it.

I twice agree. But, who says the unicyclist is able to see it?
In 1994 I for example never believed coasting was something truly possible.
And in 2013 with much better content distribution than tape, but without a proper video of a proper spin…
Anyway, I also have almost a TB of freestyle footage of past Unicon in HD. I expect to be able to extract a proper spin to show from that.

Ha, yes. Same for coasting. After I learned it, it still took more than a year before I realized how it functioned. I felt like being a female figure skater (who -generalizing- do things pure by feeling, oppose to men who analize and calculate physics and math).

True, but then any smooth circle may qualify, while the new definition now makes distinct between what your description divides at the word “transition”. Despite that it wasn’t a problem for a lot of years, I always felt it could be improved a little.

I agree that I’m being anal about performing the skills properly, and I also agree it’s obvious when these skills are done right. On the other hand aren’t we supposed to perform the skills as written? Otherwise a Level 6 in one club might really be a Level 5 in another. I believe consistency accross testing is important, we had one PE coach think that as long as a rider can do any skill in a level they have passed that level! Boy, was he surprised when he found out his level 6 rider was really level 2.

It’s also a matter of integrity. Since most of our riders are still kids it’s really hard to keep any manner of integrity if the rules can be interpreted ad hoc or “fudged”, and they know it. Trust and integrity must be earned through consistency and walking the talk, but can be destroyed in an instant. IMHO we are teaching more than unicycling as a skill, we are teaching an approach to life by example.

My only issue is the 30cm limit specifically stated as a requirement in the rulebook. While I appreciate definitive rules that are not open to interpretation this one seemed unreasonable since nobody could demonstrate it. I’m very happy to see the proposed change make it through the IUF board! Thanks for your help, Leo.

BTW: I talked with Ryan Woesnner who is the current USA Level Guru. He said he would bring it up for inclusion in the USA rulebook since the IUF has already approved it. I’m on the rulebook committee but the official date for proposals has passed.

Viewing the site as a non-member, I was only able to see two proposals, and it did not indicate if they had passed. I get the feeling I’m only seeing two that were “left hanging” in the pre-voting stage. I wonder if that’s the same for non-members viewing the IUF Rulebook site? They look the same, so probably run on the same code (much appreciation to Robin!). Are the finished changes successfully edited into a new document yet? It seems notoriously difficult to stay on schedule with those things…

That’s probably a good thing, said the guy who demonstrated (most of) Level 9. I’m sure someone else could demonstrate it better!

The unicyclist is able to see what it looks like, but not necessarily to understand the mechanics. I had to do it over and over to develop my own description of how it works, but the basic idea is very simple: A smooth change of pedaling direction while maintaining a basically straight line.

I didn’t really believe coasting when I first saw a picture of Joakim Malm doing it in 1981. But my friend and I went out and spent a lot of time working at it. We got good at gliding, and gained some understanding of coasting. Coasting got easier a few years later when I switched from 24" to 20" for tricks.

Yes, some of that is a problem in reading comprehension. The other is needing to know the exact parameters of the individual skills. Passing skill levels is where unicyclists most resembe lawyers. (Secondary to that is when they’re on Rulebook committees!) It’s funny how much extra description the skills in the levels need over any other skills found in the Standard Skills list. The one that used to drive me the nuttiest was the endless questions on the 10 x 10 cm block. Often it was people asking what the third dimension was. My standard response to that was “Infinity or less”.

Kids also become lawyers if they learn they can bend or change the rules. Kudos to your club for maintaining high standards.

I agree. Hopefully this new definition will ease that one area. In my days as an active tester (many years ago), I went with the spirit of the rule without being too consumed with the exact specifications. Yes, you have to do your circle skills at a minimum size, and line skills for a minimum distance. But you don’t have to do a spin for three revolutions, as some try to do, you have to do it for a minimum of three. And if your Frontspin/Backspin is fluid, width should not be an issue.

Perfectly spoken, and like you already describe; it depends of wisdom and intentions of those who are teaching. Or actually; there is an interesting difference between teaching and educating.

And thanks for your input, John!