Difficulty of uni skill levels

Around Christmas, I discovered the 10 unicycle skill levels. Since I don’t have any unicycle buddies, I needed something to motivate myself to practice. So I started trying to master skills on the list.

It is really tough to learn something new when you don’t have anybody else to show you what you are doing wrong. Nonetheless, the skill levels have given me a lot of needed motivation.

After four months of practice, I can do half of the skills on the level 5 list–which isn’t too bad considering I started out at basically level 1.

There are some tricks that feel impossible. I have never figured out how to ride over a 10X10cm obstacle. Wheel walking is downright frustrating. I go a couple feet, then the wheel goes flying out from under me and I land on my arse. Practicing the kickup mount leaves me bruised and battered.

Generally, however, I have found that most tricks are learnable with a little patience. When I first started, I thought that tricks on higher skill levels would be exponentially more difficult to learn.

But it doesn’t feel that way so far. The level 5 tricks that I am practicing now feel just as difficult to learn as the level 2 tricks I tried to learn 4 months ago. I have gotten a lot better, but it still feels just as difficult to learn a new trick.
I haven’t been keeping track of the time that I practice, so I’m not sure if I practice longer to learn higher level tricks, but I think that it took me the same amount of time to learn to free mount as it now takes me to learn to ride in a circle with the seat out in front.

So I was wondering what other people’s experiences have been. Do you find that the tricks grow successively harder to learn as the skill level goes up? Or is it about the same with each new level?

Since very few people make it to level 10, I assume that people must hit walls at some point and stop progressing. At what point does it grow difficult to learn new tricks?
Why is it that only young people seem to go to the highest skill levels? Is unicycling like music? Do you have to start at a young age to be a truly great unicyclist? Are the tricks harder to learn with age? Or do you have less time and interest to practice as you grow older?

Any thoughts?

Amos.

Firstly, even if you are generally riding alone, the Skill Levels are only one way of challenging and motivating yourself. I normally ride alone, but I motivate myself in terms of distance, speed, the difficulty of the terrain and so on. I’m constantly looking for new routes, and revisiting old routes to find they are now loads easier because I’ve progressed.

But given that the Skill Levels have interested you, that’s fine. each to his own and all that.

Think of building a pyramid of rocks. Position the bottom layer carefully and it will be easier to make the next layer stable. Rush to build the pyramid high, and you will find it wobbles.

If you want to build a very tall structure, you need to build very carefully. Each rock has to be the right shape, and positioned properly.

So, if you work hard at the basics of unicycling, get a good freemount, idle confidently with either foot down, reverse and turn confidently, and so on, then the next level of skills will appear easier. If you simply rush to try the next trick before the last one has ‘set’, then eventually, you may find yourself doing a whole load of skills badly, and your development will become self-limiting.

When learning any difficult physical activity, it is important to revisit and revise what you already know. An unpractised skill deteriorates.

So, the answer to your question is contained in how you approach it. I guess that, as with most sports, most people get ‘so far’ then they lose their enthusiasm for learning, they decide they know enough, they just get on with doing the sport, and what they gain in experience they lose in technique.

So it’s up to all of us to decide. There are people who initially take to unicycling quite easily, but there are no natural experts in any discipline.

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

On Sun, 27 Apr 2003, amosbatto wrote:

> There are some tricks that feel impossible. I have never figured out how
> to ride over a 10X10cm obstacle.

Hop onto it, then off it the other side. Or ride towards it, then
as your wheel reaches it, give a little pull up on the seat, so
the wheel rolls up, then back down the other side.

> Wheel walking is downright frustrating.

Correct. Hard work - but well worth it.

> Practicing the kickup mount leaves me bruised and battered.

There are lots of other mounts that aren’t the kickup.

> So I was wondering what other people’s experiences have been. Do you
> find that the tricks grow successively harder to learn as the skill
> level goes up? Or is it about the same with each new level?

Well, I did my first level tests this weekend at the British
Unicycle Convention. Although I can 1-foot wheel-walk and glide,
I failed level 2 on Friday (passed this morning, though!)

A lot of the difficulty is the transition. You have to ride,
do the skill, then get back to the pedals and ride again.
Now, if you’ve tried gliding, then you can get great distances,
and feel very pleased with yourself, but what do you do at the
end of the glide? Fall off, of course. The levels insist that
you get back to the pedals, then carry on riding.

I believe that once you’ve learned all the skills necessary
for a level, you will have a solid foundation to start learning
the next level (as another poster has said). They will get more
difficult - coasting has totally evaded me so far.

> Why is it that only young people seem to go to the highest skill levels?
> Is unicycling like music? Do you have to start at a young age to be a
> truly great unicyclist? Are the tricks harder to learn with age? Or do
> you have less time and interest to practice as you grow older?

When I unicycled in my former life, I was at university. Despite
the huge amounts of stress I had with coursework, exams and lectures,
I did a lot of practise. Now I have a house, car, job, wife… all
of these require maintenance and attention. The stress of university
seems like nothing! My unicycle has been in a cupboard for 4 years.
Life has slowed now to the point where it can come out occasionally
for a play. The house has a roof on that doesn’t leak, and brickwork
that isn’t going to fall down. We’ve been married 2 years, so some
of those initial pains are going away. I’ve been settled in the
same job for 2 years.

As for the age thing… I unicycled all day on Saturday. That
meant I was so stiff on Sunday that I didn’t ride much at all.
In the good old days, I would ride all day for 3 days solid.
Also, I saw a kid fall badly off a 6" giraffe - she bounced,
laughed, and got back on. I dismounted from a 5" giraffe, and
as I landed on my feet, I though “ouch… that was a bit of
a tough landing!”

I think there are many factors - just look at the same factors
that athletes, gymnasts and other sportpeople have to influence
their success, and you’ll probably get close to the same as
unicycling.

Hope some of this makes sense!

Cheers,

Stu

Re: Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

Those are some mighty small giraffes! Have you got any pictures?

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

[QUOTE]
Originally posted by amosbatto

It is really tough to learn something new when you don’t have anybody else to show you what you are doing wrong. Nonetheless, the skill levels have given me a lot of needed motivation.

[QUOTE]

One thing that may help is seeing the skills on video. You can try the old skill level video done in the eighties. It shows every skill demonstrated in order. Perhaps a more useful video is “one wheel no limit” It shows a large number of freestyle skills and includes footage of people learning the skills. You can often get a better idea of how to learn something by watching people throughout the learning process rather than just the experienced riders who have mastered it. Both videos are available from unicycle.com

[QUOTE]

So I was wondering what other people’s experiences have been. Do you find that the tricks grow successively harder to learn as the skill level goes up? Or is it about the same with each new level?

[QUOTE]

Most people have periods of reasonable to rapid improvement and then hit a plateau. Plateaus varies from person to person but they often end up being one type of trick (Say wheel walk). Wheel walking is so different than anything you will have done before that it requires your body to completely relearn how to ride. Once you have the feel of wheel walking you’ve broken into a new group of skills which have a similar feel.

So if you attack the skill levels you will have periods of good progress followed by times where you feel like you are hitting a brick wall. One reason I think younger people do better is that they don’t assume they have to learn something straight away. People expect children not to be able to do things. Adults tend to assume they should be able to everything quickly and get frustrated when they can’t. Adults often learn faster than children but just don’t put the time in.

I know of several really talented riders who didn’t start freestyle unicycling seriously until their 30s. If an adult is willing to put in as much time as the talented youngsters who are level 10 I think they could achieve the same thing.

Peter
Plateaued at hand wheel walk

Stick with it, Amos. You’re doing great. Remember that the skill levels are not totally tutorial. That is, not all skills on the same level are of the same difficulty, and the progression between levels is not necessarily smooth. Use them as a tool, and don’t let one stubborn skill stop you from going beyond that skill’s level. Eventually you can come back to that skill with a different, better perspective. It took me nine months before wheel-walking started kicking in. I can’t recover yet, but it’s just a matter of a little more time now. Wheel-walking is generally considered to take longer to acquire than many of the other level 5 skills.

I think it’s great that you are using the levels as a “companion” unicyclist to stimulate and motivate you. They are great for that.

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

U-Turn.mkmn0@timelimit.unicyclist.com writes:

>It took
>me nine months before wheel-walking started kicking in. I can’t recover
>yet, but it’s just a matter of a little more time now. Wheel-walking is
>generally considered to take longer to acquire than many of the other
>level 5 skills.
Hey, Amos. It took me 7 months to get ww, and I’d only been uni’ing before
that for 22 years. That skill is definitely the hardest of the first 6
levels with the exception, for many people, or hopping on the wheel 5
times (in level 6).

David

Hey, while we are talking about skill levels…

Can anybody explain the difference between coasting and gliding?

What is the difference between pirouttes, spins, and 180 uni spins?

–Just wondering. Amos.

Some of your questions are answered here
<http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/skills/skills.html&gt;

Gliding is riding with one foot on the frame and the other foot rubbing the top of the tire. No feet on the pedals. More info on gliding is here
<http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/skills/glide.html&gt;

Coasting is riding with both feet up on the crown and the feet cannot contact the tire.

Spins and pirouettes are described here
Spin: <http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/skills/spin.html&gt;
Pirouette: <http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/skills/pirouette.html&gt;

A 180 unispin is:

  1. Start on the pedals holding the seat out front
  2. Jump up so your feet are up above the pedals but the unicycle is still on the ground
  3. While you are in the air spin the unicycle 180 degrees
  4. Land back on the pedals
  5. The unicycle will now be facing backwards

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

On Sun, 27 Apr 2003, onefluffybunny wrote:

>
> > Also, I saw a kid fall badly off a 6" giraffe - she bounced,
> > laughed, and got back on. I dismounted from a 5" giraffe, and
> > as I landed on my feet, I though “ouch… that was a bit of
> > a tough landing!”
>
>
> Those are some mighty small giraffes! Have you got any pictures?

Haha. Ooops :o)

I do, of course, mean 6’ and 5’.

blush

Stu

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

On Sun, 27 Apr 2003 18:26:03 -0500, peter.bier
<peter.bier.mki8n@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
[color=darkred]
>> > > > I know of several really talented riders who didn’t start
>> > > > freestyle unicycling seriously until their 30s. If an adult is
>> > > > willing to put in as much time as the talented youngsters who
>> > > > are level 10 I think they could achieve the same thing.[/color]

If simply learning to ride 50 metres is anything to go by, then
Peter’s statement is confirmed by the results of my famous “How long
did it take you to learn?” thread. 30 year olds learn quicker than 20
year olds, and 10 year olds learn still slower. Picture on
<www.xs4all.nl/~klaasbil/agelearn_short.htm>

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Your secrets are safe with me and all of my friends.

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

>Coasting is riding with both feet up on the crown and the feet cannot
>contact the tire.

Dan Heaton coasts with one foot on the frame, and one foot extended for
balance.

Dylan

Re: Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

Yes, My bad. I’ve seen others do coasting that way too. A better description of coasting is riding with one or two feet up on the crown and no contact with the tire or pedals (or spokes or cranks or rim).

Coasting: no touching the rotating parts!

john_childs: Thanks for the nice links. I tried the instructions under spin and found them more helpful than two months of going nowhere fast. Then I thought about frontspin and backspin: two more skills that seemed to be intractable.

http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/skills/backspin.html

After reading that description, I have new hope!

Oh, a uni-spin includes the possibility of the rider doing the spin while the unicycle stays still. I’d like to see that variation.

Ah, but the frame rotates like a hinge around the hub and touching the frame is allowed. :slight_smile:

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

“Klaas Bil” <klaasbil_remove_the_spamkiller_@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
news:3ead85dc.3385139@newszilla.xs4all.nl…
> If simply learning to ride 50 metres is anything to go by, then
> Peter’s statement is confirmed by the results of my famous “How long
> did it take you to learn?” thread. 30 year olds learn quicker than 20
> year olds, and 10 year olds learn still slower. Picture on
> <www.xs4all.nl/~klaasbil/agelearn_short.htm>

Nice graph and thanks for the efforts generating it. The results do seem to
be at odds with the real world experience of myself and others I have
watched learning to ride. So either my observations, which woud suggest 10
year olds learn MUCH quicker that 20 and 30 year olds, are wrong, or else
the data is dodgy. It has to be difficult to remember how long it took in
hours, maybe spread over a number of weeks, to learn to ride. It may also
be that the accuracy of recollection varies with age. It may be that most
older people listened to advice, rather than just going for it. Asking
people for data from memory rarely gives realistic results, unless you are
asking questions which can only give accurate answers ( eg How old are
you). Questions like “How many hours did you spend on a uni at the BUC this
weekend?” are very difficult to answer accurately. But I do understand
that your survey was a fun thing, rather than an attempt to accurately
produce data.
I wonder what results would come from a rigorous test: finding a mixed age
group that would learn from scratch whilst being observed, with similar
tuition and conditions, would bring?
I read that in most physical disciplines that are not limited by size and
strength, the young tend to learn quicker.

Naomi

Shoot, foiled again. But since I am at the center of my UNIverse, the frame is not in rotation. :slight_smile:

p.s. where did the rotating Sun go? Yesterday was so nice.

Re: Difficulty of uni skill levels

Each new trick, in my experience, is a very new struggle. There may be previous tricks that are in some way prerequisites for the current one to be learned, but that current one is simply a challenge. I find this particularly true with juggling. I can do a bunch of fancy moves with 3 balls or clubs, but when learning a new trick the objects go flying all over the place exactly as when I learned the basic pattern.

Of course, the skill levels are designed to have the difficulty of the tricks in each succeeding level increase, so given that and the preceeding comments, it would make sense that at each level the tricks take a little longer to learn.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

When I first saw the title to this thread, I thought the question was going to be on the overall difficulty of a level, not the individual skills.

Each skill is composed of a few sub-skills:

The riding/stationary skills require a transition from forward riding to doing the skill, the skill itself, and a transition back to forward riding. Mounts require the mount itself, plus a transition to regular riding, in the case you mount to some other skill. Transitions themselves usually have a higher point value in the Standard Skill List.

Once you combine all these skills into a level, how difficult is it to get them all performed correctly with only three misses?

One thing implicit in the transitions to a skill and higher skill levels that build on a previous skill is that you have to learn a skill much better that you would otherwise. So higher levels have the implicit requirement of perfecting previous levels.

A – If you’re not up to about 90% in, say 30-40 consecutive attempts on each skill as tested (transitions and all), then your level test is just a throw of the dice.

B – The focus induced by an actual test is helpful.

C – Testing responsibly (i.e., not wasting the tester’s time) means you have tested yourself with someone else offline and passed a couple of times in a row, if not more.

D – Tests are a little draining concentration-wise and that, too, is worth practicing.

E – Yes, a level test is worth that much attention.

F – Try it and find out!