I am finding it very difficult to learn to ride my unicycle. My fear of falling off of this thing is paralyzing my efforts. Did any of you have this fear? How did you overcome it?
Use every piece of safety gear possible and slowly reduce as the skills develop.
Add padding if needed, full face helmet, work gloves… whatever.
If you feel safer with the gear then your brain will back off with the self preservation mode.
Oh, and keep away from crutches. Walls, fences, poles, certain distances, certain spots, etc…
Practice riding so you learn to ride.
Mount, ride… mount, ride… mount ride…
Bummer. I got the safety equipment for that reason. It still didn’t make the fear go away. I don’t know why it is so bad. Maybe someone dropped me as a baby. I doubt anyone in the family will fess up to that one.
Have you gotten hurt while trying to learn to unicycle?
Just from my ankles banging up against the frame. I have been so paralyzed with fear I never get far enough to get to ride the thing. The first sign of trouble I jump off.
Make yourself fall.
By that, I mean don’t try to ride. Find a support structure (fence, bridge railing, tennis net, car, anything), and mount the unicycle. Then, lean forward without the wheel moving. Keep your feet stationary. Then, before falling on your face, step toward and walk away. Do it over and over and over. Do it until you don’t fear falling forward. Then, do it backward. Lean back, and step off. Then, lean back further before stepping off. Do it over and over and over until you are no longer afraid of falling backward because you now know how to “bail” and how to catch yourself.
Start with a tiny number, like 100. At try #100, you will be more comfortable than try #1.
OK. That sounds like something I can work with. I bet that works. Thanks.
Take heart @Ravenkeep, the reality is that 99% of falls off a uni (especially whilst learning) will result in you landing on your feet.
Take heart and keep on…
I was going to chime in with the same comment.
Making yourself fall is a great suggestion. Even getting very good at stepping up and over a unicycle and letting it drop is wise as it trains you to just not care about it falling and keep walking.
You also have to tell yourself: you will (given time m) crack it and that it isn’t you that is faulty but gravity.
Lastly the best advice I got when learning was:
Vary your mistakes
Observe your tendencies and do the opposite. It just means your pushing yourself to explore all angles rather than repeat the same thing.
So find new ways to fall (safely) and keep at it. If you get too frustrated- stop for that day but come back and try again.
One thing I’ll add in is also finding/creating an environment where you feel safe. School gyms are ideal, but hard to get access to. Maybe tennis courts, basketball courts with the softer rubberized floor?
Avoid crowded and loud places, find somewhere with good light, a good atmosphere and plenty of space.
Consider adding music if you are into that, I learned to ride as a kid so I had no fear to deal with then, but music has sometimes helped me to clear my mind and commit to harder tricks.
You will have to get over your fears yourself and nothing can take them away but you, but it’s easier to start out in the most ideal conditions you can set up.
Yes. You can even start without the unicycle. Stand then lean as far forward as you can until you start falling then run out of it.
Even though it is harder to ride on grass, maybe if you have a well-trimmed lawn, you can try and ride on that. If you fall you land softly. As grass tends to be bumpy, the chance of tumbling off is bigger, but that is a good thing, because that is the fear you need to overcome.
Generally I don’t have a fear of falling off, but I do feel this stress when there is a bump on the road which I think I might not make or when riding the 36" and having to go on a steeper downhill, then I jump off before getting the chance to try.
Childrens play areas sometimes have a rubberized mat surface. These same playgrounds will have swingsets and jungle gyms that you can use for support. I typically see these rubber mat playgrounds at schools. Go there when the school is closed and no one will be concerned about the creepy guy on a unicycle hanging out in the playground.
Here’s a great piece of advice from frode… (it applies to pretty much everything!)
“I don’t know about you, but personally, I discovered that I quite often found myself dismounting the unicycle willingly just because I thought I was going to have an “unplanned dismount” (UPD) in a fraction of a second or two (still happens ,especially when I am exhausted). While this might be a good idea while out unicycling to avoid an accident or hard fall, it might not be as good an idea during the learning process. Therefore, when I feel that I am going to fall (yes, it often starts with a feeling), I pull myself together and force me to continue until I am grounded.”
Relax, settle your mind, and use the Force.
It will come.
With regard to that last piece of advice from @Canoeheadted , I’m am constantly amazed at the “stuff” I ride through now, and then find myself thinking, “How/why did my brain not just tell my body to panic? How did I keep my balance, when I used to just “bail” in the past?” It happens every ride, now. Essentially, I find myself riding INTO the feeling of imbalance, or the actual act of imbalance, in order to regain my balance. Similar to the feeling of leaning too far toward, and having my brain skip the act of talking to me and instead just making a direct call to my legs and telling them to pedal faster. But, it happens in all directions.
I find that more regular riding helps with this too.
- To reduce fear of falling, practice falling. When I say falling, it’s a blanket term to cover any type of dismount. The vast majority of these will be to your feet, but not all, especially when learning new things/tricks. Practice dismounts in every direction. To the front, to the sides, to the back. Get comfortable with the idea that you can land on your feet with confidence.
- Practice actual falls. The older we are, the harder we fall. That’s because we’re out of practice. If you play other sports that involve lots of falling down, this won’t be an issue. Otherwise, do practice stumbling forward, falling to the sides, falling on your butt. This accomplishes two things. Builds up muscle memory for how to fall safely, and reminds you that falling down isn’t so bad.
- Yes, after this practice you’re going to work to avoid falling down, but having that experience there will help all around. Last year I had to dig up some old muscle memory to get me out of a forward dismount at over 10mph from my 36". I was listening to music, the trail ramped upward and I didn’t realize it until I was too far forward to correct. I took a couple of running steps, realized this wasn’t going to work, and my old programming took over and had me do a shoulder roll. A few scratches (and a broken bell) later, I was otherwise fine.
- I’m not a fan of using grass for learning. Sure, it’s more pleasant to land on, but it’s a lot harder to ride on. On the upside, you will get even more practice at dismounts/falls.
- Some people recommend riding out into the open right away. This depends on your attitude and age. Works better for younger, more athletic people. Based on your post, you are not so young, and prefer not being on the ground so much. So stick with a support at first, to build confidence in making revolutions.
- The downside of the “holding on” method is a reluctance to let go when it’s time. Beyond a certain point, you aren’t going to improve much more by sticking with the wall/rail/fence/someone else’s car. Eventually it will be time to gut it out, and head out into the open. But by that point, you should be ready. You’ve practices your dismounts/falls, done others that weren’t practice, and learned you can get back up and not be hurt.
- EVERYONE who learns to ride a unicycle is successful, as long as they do one thing: Don’t Quit. That’s all. Some people learn really fast, some take longer. It’s your own journey, and you can do it.
That makes me think that you could try judo, not for the fights, but because of the falls that are the first thing you will learn. The muscle mrmory of the forward fall as saved me from a few really bad falls.
These are all great suggestions. Thanks y’all.
The grass ideal doesn’t work here. I only have weeds and stickers for a yard. Otherwise it was a great ideal.