Coaching advice needed...

Hi everyone,

Since I took up unicycling in May 2002, the number of unicyclists in my suburb has grown from 1 to around 10 (at least). We’ve all bought unicycles from the local bike shop where I work part-time and to most of them I’ve told them there’ll hopefully be some sort of a weekly ride and quite a few are interested. When he’s got more time my boss will come along and help with the coaching, but until then it’s up to me.

Hopefully next Saturday afternoon I’ll be starting the weekly unicycle ride and/or lesson session (I like the sound of that:)). If it all works out, there’ll be a bunch of maybe 3-10 people there (the numbers will hopefully grow each week) at a range of different skill levels. Some may not be able to ride at all.

Does anyone have any suggestions about how I should run the lessons and what order to teach different skills in? I’ve helped a few people to learn to ride, but only briefly. I’ve been saying that the best way I can think of to learn to ride a unicycle is the following:

  • Set up with something solid and easy to grab on your left or right.
  • Put one foot on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke.
  • Either hold the seat with one hand and use the other to hold onto the support or hold onto the support with both hands.
  • Get the other foot onto the other pedal in the up position.
  • Turn the cranks a bit to get them laying horizontally.
  • Sit for a few minutes just rocking backwards and forwards by turning the cranks a little bit.
  • Put one pedal all the way down and practice rocking that way (spend a while on this because it’s tricky).
  • Get the cranks back into the horizontal position (move to a wall if you’re not already near one)
  • Try riding along beside the wall for a while until it starts to feel a little bit more natural.
  • Then, do the same thing but let go of the wall every now and then (while still riding beside it).
  • Go along the wall and then turn away from it and ride for as far as you can.
  • That’s most of the hard stuff over and done with, so keep going further and further.
  • Try free mounts…

Can anyone suggest a better way to teach this?

Thanks a lot,

p.s. Just to bring back some good old memories, here’s me learning to ride!


I’m not sure if rocking back and forth is the way to go. Use a railing to hold onto – use a fence or whatever you have, or build a railing – it will be well worth the effort.

Put one pedal down (the left?) and use the railing to assist mounting. Pedal backwards a quarter of a turn to level the pedals. Sit for a while. Pedal forward a half rotation. Pause and balance. Then another. Pause and balance. Hold onto the railing for dear life. When you run out of railing, swivel around (while pedals are level) without getting off. Repeat the process. Soon, pedal in full rotations instead of half, then two, then continuously. Constantly emphasize good posture. Sit up tall and straight and put your weight on the seat.

Sooner or later, they will be using the railing less and less. If they launch too soon, they will spend too much time OFF the uni. Using a railing allows them more uni time. When they can just lightly touch the railing a few times while riding beside it, have them keep riding PAST the end of the railing.

By riding past the end of the railing, they can venture out into the great void WITHOUT the instability of launching. At launch time, you are initially going VERY slow for an instant. My method minimizes that and allows greater riding success. Then have them launch from a stop.

Don’t rush them into free-mounting. They need some degree of balance and control first.

By then, you will be a pro at teaching, and you will know what to do next!

Disclaimer: I’ve NEVER taught anybody to ride except myself. In fact, I’ve never even MET a unicyclist in person. And I learned very slowly – I was not aggressive in trying to launch. On the other hand, my above description is compatible with the teaching method used in the video Introduction to Unicycling, with Dustin Kelm (from

Good luck and have fun! You are doing a wonderful thing. Patience and positive encouragement! That’s what they are going to need most! Give them that and even if your teaching methods are not perfect, they will get it!

uni57 (Dave)


Thanks a lot for the tips. Your method makse a lot of sense…I’ll try it out.


I’ve just recently learned to Uni so my experience is fresh in my mind. I deflated the wheel somewhat (this makes it easier to balance, but harder to turn) Used a wall or post to mount, with my pedals at 6 and 12 (I was just less than arms length from the wall) I kept my other arm out as well. I then turned my pedals so they were at 3 and 9. Then leaned forward somewhat and pedaled as far as I could go. Just kepp trying this and you’ll get it.

The main thing while teaching people to ride is lots of positive affirmations and try to find the best way to teach that person, because everybody learns differently.


Learning how to ride on a 16" Troxel with a solid rubber tire.


Hey Andrew, I’m just now learning to freemount, I’ve been riding 12 days and let me explain how I learned to uni (with the “crutch” that I used until now)

I originally used a wall to lean against without much luck.

Then I started to use a cinderblock to rest my rear pedal on,
then I just stood on the rear pedal to get my balance and pedaled off.

This method was the easiest and worked very well for me

That is a brilliant idea. I am stunned. The brilliance lies in the simplicity and directness, and the fact that it works perfectly. It just fits under the pedal. It is stable when standing on it. And it does not get in the way when you ride off.

I tried using a short piece of scrap 2x4 behind the tire. It was enough to prevent rollback. It is wheel-centric, while your solution is pedal-centric. It’s all a matter of focus. When you step on the pedal, the wheel wants to roll back. When you step on the pedal, the pedal moves down (causing the wheel to roll back). Your solution goes straight to the source.

I’m not sure it’s a good way to learn to mount, but I’m just blown away at the brilliance of the idea. You must now direct your creative powers and clear thinking toward issues such as crank length and Constant Foodspeed Hypothesis Theory. There must be some simple hidden truth awaiting discovery. Between you and Mikefule and Klaas and a few others, you guys should be able to come up with a Unified Theory of Unicycling (UTU).

Did you ever think anyone could be so utterly impressed by the creative use of a cinderblock?

uni57 (Dave)

s/tire/tyre/gm if $UK;

Thanks everyone,


Great work!!! I love that idea and I see how it goes with the people who are learning to ride on saturday.


Did you ever think anyone could be so utterly impressed by the creative use of a cinderblock?

uni57 (Dave)

Actually, I came up with the cinderblock idea after someone here offered the idea of using a curb to start. I tried that, but the street in front of my house has been repaved so many times that the curb is extremely short. I needed something to “help” me with my starts and went looking around my scrap pile, then cinderblock started calling to me!!! hehehe

A “portable” curb, how convienent!!!