Feet Position for Basic Riding

Hi there,

I have noticed in a lot of the beginner posts that people always suggest that the best foot position is to use the “balls” of your feet on the pedals.

I have come across this many times, and am slightly concerned as I have just learned to unicycle using the middle of my feet (just below what are known as the “balls” of the feet). I have tried using the balls of my feet, but this makes me feel less secure.

My questions, to any and all who can answer this, are “Is it important to use the balls of your feet on the pedals?” and “Why?”.

Is it not possible to use the middle of your feet, like me, and still ride proficiently?

All I want is a simple explanation, which I’m sure many of you could give me. Please be gentle, I’m only a rookie to all this! LOL!

Thanks, in advance, to any and all that offer help and advice!

Many thanks

Mark Watson

I’ve used the centre of my feet all my ridding life and I’m fine, i think the minoroty use the balls of there feet for general ridding.

Whatever works for you is the “correct” foot position. I learned using the balls of my feet first because that’s how I ride a bike, but I can pedals in lots of different foot positions now.

There is nothing wrong with your feet placement, there are threads that have discussed the merits of both, from memory the summary is something like.

Balls - more efficient and greater power as you are using the muscles in both your upper leg (as the knee flexes) and lower leg ( the ankle).
By having the pedal under the instep the lower leg muscles are used far less.

Instep - this is preferred by trials and extreme muni riders (I’m neither) as they feel that when UPDs occur this position is less likely to result in damage to the ankle and the placement is more solid and consequently UPDs are less likely in the first place.

I have always ridden with the balls of my feet on the pedals whether on road or off, but as I said above I wouldn’t describe my riding as dangerous (I think it’s partly an age thing)

I’ve been road biking for years, and on a bike you always want to use the balls of your feet (efficiency, like another poster said)… On unicycles, though, I’ve never used the balls of my feet, and have always had my pedals centered just behind my balls, like you’ve described. Feels much safer. I think I might be able to be more efficient using the balls of my feet, but I think that, due to my 125 cranks, that will only result in me using less of the range of motion of my quad instead of maintaining all of the quad motion and supplementing it with calf/ankle action, which is what would happen with longer cranks, (like onmy bike’s 175mm cranks).

I use the balls of my feet for any kind of distance riding and the center of the foot for trials / offroad / hopping. (none of which I’m very good at)

I do however find that when attempting to learn any new skill I tend to have much more control using the center of the foot.

I’m comfortable riding in either position but certainly find that my ankles are much happier if the foot is in the center position for any kind of drop.

It depends what sort of unicycling your doing.

I would always go for the middle of the foot but then I am a trials rider. Having the middle of your foot on the pedal means that your foot is less likley to get strained when landing a big drop.

Iv’e never tried riding a unicycle with the balls of my feet even though I ride that way on a bike.

Hi there,

Thanks for all the feedback guys!

As I have previously mentioned on these forums, I never learned to ride a bike, but if I did then I may feel more comfortable using the balls of my feet.

However, as you have now all informed me that there is no need to change my foot position, I can comfortably resume my practice without any worries of doing something wrong!

Thanks to you all for helping me!

Many thanks

Mark Watson

Use whatever feels best for you.

As several people have posted the center position is best for drops.

I read of a guy hear who tore his achilles tendon because he did a 4 foot drop on his MUni and forgot to move his feet from the balls to having their center over the padal’s axle.

Middle of the feet is fine for learning. All the world’s top riders ride on the balls of their feet except for certain situations as mentioned above, big drops, hard climbing or tons of hopping. Or tons of idling, like performers may do while juggling or doing other stuff on the uni.

Riding with the balls of your feet on the pedals is the “correct” way for the same reason it is for bicycles, or anything else powered by pedals, for that matter. That position most efficiently transfers power from your leg/ankle/foot into the drive system. Any other foot position and you are lowering your efficiency, hence your power. This is most noticeable if you want to ride fast.

As efficiency is not important when you’re just starting out, foot position is a lot less important than learning to keep your weight off your feet, and the other basics, like learning to turn and freemount. Have fun learning, concentrate on the big milestones you want to reach, and worry about the details later on. :slight_smile:

Wow… strange.

If i ride with the balls of my feet, (especially when it’s wet) I find they slipp off very easily as i have no room for error…

Left: ball of foot.

Right: whatever part of the foot happens to land on the pedal as I mount. :frowning:

I ride with the centres of my feet over the pedals, i always imagine the pedal axle being the centre of the arc prescribed by my arch. My foot placement is so consistent that a groove has cut in the sole of my boots where the pins are placed on my pedals. Maybe I should experiment with going on the balls for road riding.

I started learning with the middle of my feet … then later learned with pedal under the balls only for “road riding”. For Muni I stick with middle of my foot with one provision: when pedaling my foot is pointing slightly downwards (not horizontal).

I ride on the balls of my feet, probably because I’m a bicyclist and anything else feels “wrong”. It’s certainly more efficient in theory to ride on the balls of your feet, but in some unicycling situations it does hurt your ankles - I tend to move my feet slightly further forward on the pedals (i.e. pedal more with the middle of my foot) for the more rocky bits of trails and I can certainly see why trials riders or people doing big drops would want to ride that way, but smoother xc and road riding definitely feel better on the balls.

If we can somehow work rims, pumps and nipples into this discussion we’d have a post Finbar Saunders himself would be proud of :stuck_out_tongue: