How to finess balance on tip of a rock?


I have been doing more trials lately and recently got to do some natural trials. It’s low level stuff - rocks that are about 10 - 12 inches in height with a gap of @1 foot. I am finding when I gap to a rock that has a point to land on, I am tensing up my legs to sustain the balance, then indirectly placing a lot of force on my left wrist which is my linking hand to the seat handle. This move is placing a lot of stress on my wrist and thereby creating pain.

What is my goal in a situation like this? Do I need to relax more?
Do I need to place more emphacis on my legs and less on my wrist? Or…? It seems like this move should have more finesse to it rather than brute strength, but I am not sure which “direction” to go. I have watched Andrew Carter’s 8 minute video many times and he makes it look effortless - it ain’t effortless for me.


Hey Rod, thanks for the compliments. :slight_smile:

I’d say you do need to relax a little, but just relaxing is only going to result in the wheel slipping out from under you. I think the finesse you’re looking for is in predicting the forces that will be applied to you and the unicycle. Of course this is purely my opinion and I can’t really back it up, but I think trials really is all about awareness and anticipation and when you know ahead of time which angle the forces are going to be acting on and how powerful they will be you can make those tiny adjustments that should come out of instinct and as a result find yourself positioned in a way that will reduce the required force.

When you go to gap to the peak of a rock, if you are aware of the slope of the surfaces and which way it’s going to throw you you should hopefully find yourself hitting the right spot and having to make less corrections. Even if you do land in the wrong spot, your awareness will mean that you can make these corrections early on (a little corrective hop to get yourself back on the peak maybe) so you’ll have to apply that force for a shorter period of time.

This is all very hard to explain over the internet, and unfortunately I think that’s the best I can do to help.

Good luck!


This is a problem I’ve been having as well. I only do MUni, but we were at the Olympic Horse Park mountain b*ke trails yesterday, and it provides ample opportunity for such Trials bits.

My problem: I find that I tend to straighten or lock my legs to keep a firm grip on my uni, especially when I panic a little. Of course, this makes the next jump almost impossible. The locking seems to creep in after some number of hops. (As I get better, the number increases.)

Any tips on proper flexing would be greatly appreciated. (Other than saying just relax. :slight_smile: )

What if you try to just relax on less pointy rock peaks, then when you’ve got that down move on up until you can relax on the harder stuff.

I was going to say to practice on smaller rocks, but it looks like you’re old enough to have already figured that out. :smiley: Beyond that, follow the good advice of the experts.

I just spend as little time as possible on pointed rocks. When picking out my line through rocks, I pick a line wsith no more than about 2 pointed rock moves linked, and a stable third to regain my balance on. I’m working on staying better balanced on pointy things, but whe1n it all comes dowsn to it, the faster you’re to the next object, the faster you’ll be able to relax and regain your balance.

I find when I tense it takes the for of a billion little cortrection hops. Those are exhausting, but at least they aren’t painful.

Also, I would start by practicing on BIGGER rocks. Bigger rocks generally have more space to move around on and bigger patches to put your feet when you fall. I comfortably ride trials on large rocks (2-4’ tall, etc…) and do well, but the other day I went to a jetty with small (about 1’-ish) sharp rocks. The moves were quite small (i never did a gap bigger than about 4’ and a hop bigger than about 20"), but there was very little room to make a mistake, which made it far harder than most other trials spots I’ve ridden. 2’ gaps between teeny rocks are often harder than 4’ gaps between gigantic rocks.