Learning to Standstill

I’ve been trying to learn a standstill for a while and been making only limited progress. One basic question I have is what movements to do when I start to lean to one side. For example, if I feel like I am tipping over to the left, do I (1) let my hips go with the lean to the left and try to move my shoulders and arms to the right to stop the tipping to the left or (2) do the opposite and try to shift my hips to the right to offset the lean while my upper body moves to the left. When I look at videos of people doing standstills, I see that the hip and upper body often move in opposite directions as the riders maintain their balance, but it’s hard to tell which part of their body (lower or upper) is being used to offset the lean.

More generally, I’d welcome any advice on learning to standstill. Most of my attempts have been from riding. I have tried both doing standstills while remaining seated and trying them while standing up. Every once and while, I can often hold my balance for a few seconds, but rarely longer than that.

A final question is whether there is something helpful to think about. When I learned to slackline, the simple advice to keep my head over my feet helped a lot. Is there something comparable in learning to standstill?

Thanks for any and all advice!

Maybe take a look at this video that @finnspin created as a start?



I’m honestly never sure how the mechanics of stillstand work, the main tips that helped me was looking at a fixed point further away on the ground (similar to on a slackline, don’t look at your feet, but fixate a point further ahead) and making sure the upper body is relatively upright. The rest my body figured out by itself.

I think an important point might be that you aren’t going to balance by the movement of your shoulders/hips if you don’t have good tension through your core/legs. Not so easy to figure out and explain the actual physics, but the force has to be translated into the contact patch of the tire for it to change your balance, just swinging the arms doesn’t do much if the upper body is floppy.

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Thanks much! I have been focusing on a fixed point in front of me, but not on how I am translating my movements through to the wheel. I will try this.

Still stand is quite a difficult, and take a while to become really good at it. That being said, it’s a fun game as you get longer increments all the time so it can also be rewarding.

Keep going!

As Finn pointed, a good core is very important. It’s important to try and do as small corrections as possible in your balance, the bigger the correction, the bigger the risk of over-correcting. Every time you fall, you can ask yourself why you fell. Didn’t correct enough, corrected too much? Relate that to the feeling you had at the time so you can gage the amount of correction that needs to be given.

EDIT: I also agree with Finn that looking further than your wheel will be better, unless you’re wanting to transpose that skill to riding narrow objects, which then you need to keep an eye on the tire to make sure it’s in line with whatever you’re riding.

Once you get really good then you can try with just 1 arm, or no arm, which personally always makes me feel like a fish flopping out of the water.

EDIT 2: if you’re still standing sitting down, keep that weight on your seat! You correct balance with your arms, shoulders (and upper body if needed) but your legs play an important role as well. Those tiny forward and back motions help tremendously to stay in place. Keeping the weight on your seat will allow you to relax your legs more, and not tense your lower body too much, make those corrections a breeze rather than stressful and tiring.

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Many thanks for these tips! I will try all of them.

I just recently learned how to stillstand.

It really clicked for me when I recognized that the hips play the most crucial part. While you can do minor corrections with your arms, you definitely have to shift your hips to the right when your are falling to the left. Moreover, you can also regain balance if you do a 10 degree forward or backwards rotation. I do this when shifting my hips alone would not be sufficient. Good luck!

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Thanks so much. I use my hips to balance on a slackline as you describe. If I am tilting to my left, my hips go to the right and my arms go to the left to adjust the balance. I am going to try this when I stillstand.

You are very welcome.

I also slackline and the movements are indeed similar. However, in my experience you have to use your hips a lot more if you want to stillstand on the unicycle. The arms are not nearly as effective as they are when your slackline. It took me three days to figure this out but then I made rapid progress. So don’t be afraid to exaggerate your hip movements :wink:

This is a great tip. Thanks!