Consistency of Tricks on Uneven Surface

Weird question, but I haven’t been able to find anything else about it. I was wondering if anyone else has any input.

I find that when I’m in a gym, once I get used to the floor I’m a lot more consistent with tricks than outside on an uneven surface. But I don’t have regular access to a gym, especially while at school. I sometimes practice in a gym when I’m home for summer and winter break, but that’s about it.

I find that riding skills are less effected by terrain because they’re done faster. Yes, uneven terrain makes it slightly harder, but usually you can overcome it with speed. One foot skills you pedal a little harder (or lighter if going downhill). Seat drags the seat bounces a lot more on uneven ground which is annoying, but once you get better at controlling the recoil it isn’t that bad. The exception for me is SOS one foot, but that could be because it’s done in a circle so less predictable how the uni will react and also I learned it somewhat recently. Unispins, wraps, rolls, also seem less effected.

Wheel walking skills are the most effected. I can do spoke walk and lace walk across the entire gym with the limiting factor being fatigue. But doing these skills outside for 30+ feet I find difficult. They’re done so slow that I just tend to go in the direction of whichever way the ground slopes, and there’s no controlling it. Whenever I’m about to fall, I know it; I end up still standing for 1 or 2 seconds before I fall not being able to save it. My balance point is perfect, but it’s hard to fight the unevenness. I find this to be more true for backward skills. Standup is slow, but doing it on uneven ground isn’t too hard because you can see where you’re going. But standup koosh koosh is backward. It becomes a lot harder (particularly transitioning) when I’m outside on uneven ground. It’s also slow, so again, I tend to go in the direction of the slopes, and if I’m about to fall, I get stuck in an awkward stillstand for 2 seconds and there’s nothing I can do about it it seems.

It’s really frustrating, thinking I have skills solid and being able to do them with consistency, and then struggling to do them outside. Yes I still have all these down outside and can do them for the most part consistently, but transitioning in particular is unpredictable with the uneven ground. At NAUCC, I was surprised at how many things I did first attempt, things I hadn’t even tried before. And I could do them with consistency. I can still do them outside, but some days it can take me a few or sometimes even a lot of attempts. Doing my bwd ww → bwd 1 ft ww → spoke walk → lace walk → 1 ft lacewalk combo outside feels almost impossible. Each of these individual transitions aren’t that hard, but doing it all back to back on a surface that isn’t level is quite difficult, especially the bwd 1 ft lace walk part.

Here’s my question. So people clearly have these kinds of skills solid when they are competing in freestyle, in a gym, but do they have them solid in an outdoor environment, where the ground may not be flat? I know it’s a weird question, here’s why I’m asking. I had a gig last May. First day I was performing on a bridge. It was flat, so I did one of my favorite tricks, lace walk, quite a bit. People just acted like it was weird, but I don’t care because I think it’s cool. Second day there was a new security guard though who wouldn’t let me use the bridge, so I was stuck in the sloped sidewalk next to the road. I just resorted to easier tricks after that. Additionally, I’m trying to get new members for the unicycle club at school. I think a good mix of easier tricks, harder tricks you’re good at, and tricks you aren’t good at (so people see you’re still learning too) are conversation starters. But as I mentioned, a lot of harder tricks I am good at become less consistent with the ground being less than ideal.

How do you think I might go about fixing this problem? I’ve noticed I need my hands for balance outside more than I do on flat ground, so maybe getting very good at arm independence would be helpful? I don’t really ever practice turns on skills like spoke walk, but maybe being good at turning would make correcting on uneven ground doable, instead of getting stuck in an awkward still stand before falling? Obviously, it is best to not get caught up in the details and just enjoy, but I like being able to show people skills. And I do. I like showing non riders standup koosh koosh. I “don’t even need the pedals”, the foot motion is confusing, I’m “standing on the wheel”, I’m going backwards. People are always very impressed by that one. And I have it consistent for showing other non riders, but doing it in combination with other wheel walks outside is hard.

I get that non riders would rather see you just juggle 3 clubs while idling, and do simple tricks like one foot riding, wheel walking, and seat drag is also good. But I’m more interested in showing people what I think is cool. I like doing standup and backwards wheel walking in parades, but I would like to be able to do very high level tricks in parades and at gigs without worrying about whether the ground is flat or not. Think about it, surely these expert freestylers can do advanced skills arm independent at least a little bit, given they can wave their hands around and dance to a theme song while they do tricks. And plus, don’t you have to be able to do slow skills like spoke walk with both hands behind your back in order to do Julian walk? You can’t use your hands for balance because they’re on the seat.

Whew, that was a mouthful. Here’s a summary of what I was asking:

Can advanced freestylers do their best tricks with consistency even if the ground isn’t flat?

Can people do these very slow skills like spoke walk completely arm independent (both hands behind back)? Does this help with being able to do them when the ground is uneven? I’ve been working on wheel idling arm independent and I think it’s helpful but so far have only done thirty something back and forth wheel idles and am not consistent. It’s easy on both feet with even just one arm out for balance, but for some reason the sole being worn down more on my gliding foot makes it harder to keep traction, but only when I’m practicing arm independent.

Does practicing circles and figure eights make you better at correcting when on uneven ground? I’m mostly talking about slow wheel walking skills but you can include advanced riding skills in here too (like side ride for example. Can’t do that one yet).

Are practicing wheel walking skills arm independent (both hands behind back) helpful for learning seat out wheel walks? I find sideways ww to be extremely hard. My longest run is only half the gym when I was at NAUCC. But this also applies to Julian walk, smiley walk, SOS wheel walking (different from daiki). I currently can’t do any of those other than sideways wheel walk because I haven’t worked on them.

Thoughts, comments, and questions are welcome.

No. They can do harder tricks in not perfect condition, but not their best tricks. Depends on the tricks of course, wheelwalk tricks are typically hard on uneven ground, while dragseat and other riding tricks are easier to compensate, but freestyle unicycles and tricks are not built to handle uneven ground.

That’s probably why they are popular flatlandtricks :wink:

It does help to be better at the trick, so it will probably help on uneven ground - but ultimately I don’t think it’s the circles and figure eights that are responsible, it’s getting better at that trick, by whatever way of practicing.

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That all makes sense.

What do you think about practicing slow skills like spoke walk with both hands behind the back? Is this something people do? Does it help with learning seat out wheel walks?

I haven’t seen many people do that, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to incorporate it. Freestyle riders typically seem to practice “arm independency” while they practice it with hand movements for their choreographies, but I’m not sure if that is actually good methodology. (And also not necessarily applicable if you don’t practice routines.)
Not sure that it would help seat out wheelwalks specifically, my experience on those is limited (I can only do some sideways ww at probably a similar level to you), but I haven’t heard anyone recommend that. I’d tend to believe that the hard part by a big factor remains learning to create the stability in those positions and less the fact you don’t have arms to flail around, but I might be wrong.

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