Skill Levels

Hello, my name is Andy Cotter, I am the current Vice President of USA. Lately I
have not been involved in the internet as the outdoors is calling and summer is
when I do my most riding. I have just finished reading most (if not all) of the
articles pertaining to the IUF/USA Skill Level debate. Since I am an officer of
USA I felt that I should say a few words (especially since the talk is getting
quite pointed).

I was voted into VP position during the General Membership meeting last summer
(that was the meeting where the skill level was changed). I had only heard of
the proposal just a short time before the meeting was started. Since Nationals
was before Unicon VII, the people I talked to thought that the subject of
changing the rule around would be brought up in the IUF general membership
meeting. Why it wasn’t brought up in the IUF meeting (or if it was) I don’t
remember anybody talking about it.

As I understand it, the levels are mainly used in the United States. Even in
North America, most riders look at the levels as guidelines or suggestions for
their next tricks they want to work on.
>From my travels in Europe, many USA members in these countries didn’t
care about the levels much less test for them. I don’t know if Japan Unicycle
Assoc. (JUA) uses the current IUF levels at all. The USA rule committee has (in
the last couple of years) defined what exactly each trick is and how it is to be
done. This was done so people knew exactly what was ‘legal’ and what wasn’t.
While these defined rules are not yet finished, the people working on them are
planning on having them available soon. Was the IUF going to adopt the USA rule
committees regulations for the skill levels? I’m not sure, I don’t believe it
was even thought about by either parties.

As the VP of USA I am in charge of the roster and other membership data that
comes its way. One of those is skill level data. In the membership roster
membership book (sold for $2.50) there is a graph showing what riders past what
levels. Before the skill level change there was a many riders stuck at level 4.
Now with the level change it is distributed more evenly. This would suggest that
moving the skills around was a good idea. Ideally, the riders should be somewhat
evenly distributed among the levels.

As for a huge division in the USA over the skill levels, I have only heard of
two people being strongly dissatisfied. The issue is welcome for this summer USA
General Membership meeting. If there is a division I’m sure that I will see it
there. As for having the IUF and USA agree and coexist, I am all for it. Since I
was one of the Co-Directors for Unicon VII and I am planning on helping a lot
with Unicon VIII (where ever it
is), I want IUF and USA to work together. I hope that we can work something out
(soon). Maybe a compromise can be worked out. How about the IUF rule
committee and USA rule committee get together and talk this issue through.

Here is some other comments that I want to respond to: *No, I’m simply stating
the truth. Anybody who has done a little pogo *stick, can simply just jump onto
a unicycle tire, squeezing the frame *with his feet and holding the seat with
his hands as he hops *effortless on the unicycle like a pogo stick. It is a bit
more *difficult than on a pogo stick which was designed for the purpose, but *a
person who can’t ride a unicycle normally, can hop on the wheel *easily.

I beg to differ. I encourage anybody to go out and try to pogo stick for 5
minutes and then try to hop on the wheel for 5 minutes. Let me know if you can
do any hops on the wheel. Pogo sticks have a big spring so hopping is easy,
unicycles have a very small spring (the tire and your body) making hopping
harder. Kids in our club have brought pogo sticks for fun and they can do all
sorts of tricks on them but they have a very hard time (and still are having a
hard time) with hopping on the wheel (I’m not talking about transitions, just
the hopping).

*I wasn’t aware that the purpose of the Skill Levels was measuring the
*progress of a rider. However, some clubs have decided to allow club *members
to do certain things only after they have passed certain skill *levels. I
thought the purpose of the Skills Levels was to gauge one’s *own progress, not
to qualify for club prizes. Yes, some clubs *actually bribe their members to
pass skill levels.

I would imagine that the above statement was directed toward the Twin City
Unicycle Club (TCUC) since the above writer was a member of the TCUC. Since we
are a club with 150 members (120 riders) we need a fair way to determine the
riders abilities. We use the skill levels as a gauge on how good a rider is (not
always the best indicator but it is a relatively fair measure). For example, we
don’t let anybody under level 3 ride tall club unicycles. If the member has
their own tall unicycle they can ride it all they want, they just can’t ride
club unicycles. Initially I was surprized to learn that riders would work very
hard to become level 3 so they can ride a tall unicycle. The kids feel very
proud when they can ride the tall unicycles. Call this a bribe? I hope not.

TCUC uses skill levels to find out who eligible for the performance group. Since
we are trying to have the top level riders in the performance group, using skill
levels as a gauge is the fairest we can think of. Is this a club prize? Depends
on your view.

As for bribes. Sometimes when a rider is getting close to passing a higher level
(usually 6 and above) I will say to the rider if they pass the level today I
will buy them lunch. But this is coming out of my own pocket. There have been
other similar challenges in the past but the money always came out of an
individuals pocket.

There are members in our club who don’t like to do levels, that is just fine.
Levels give many kids goals to shoot for.

Well I’m off to practice.

Andy B. Cotter cotter@skynet.com VP of USA

Re: Skill Levels

Andy Cotter <cotter@cae.wisc.edu> wrote:

>I was voted into VP position during the General Membership meeting last summer
>(that was the meeting where the skill level was changed). I had only heard of
>the proposal just a short time before the meeting was started. Since Nationals
>was before Unicon VII, the people I talked to thought that the subject of
>changing the rule around would be brought up in the IUF general membership
>meeting. Why it wasn’t brought up in the IUF meeting (or if it was) I don’t
>remember anybody talking about it.

The IUF meeting was held from about 10:00 PM to about 12:15 PM 2 August 1994. I
believe the Skill Levels issue was on the agenda, but not everything on the
agenda could be addressed in such a short time. Also, there didn’t seem to be
any urgency, since the only national unicycling union to complain about the
Skill Levels had already made a local modification of it, for its members (not
binding on the IUF or any other national unicycling union).

>As I understand it, the levels are mainly used in the United States. Even in
>North America, most riders look at the levels as guidelines or suggestions for
>their next tricks they want to work on.
>>From my travels in Europe, many USA members in these countries didn’t
>care about the levels much less test for them. I don’t know if Japan Unicycle
>Assoc. (JUA) uses the current IUF levels at all. The USA rule committee has (in
>the last couple of years) defined what exactly each trick is and how it is to
>be done. This was done so people knew exactly what was ‘legal’ and what wasn’t.
>While these defined rules are not yet finished, the people working on them are
>planning on having them available soon. Was the IUF going to adopt the USA rule
>committees regulations for the skill levels? I’m not sure, I don’t believe it
>was even thought about by either parties.

Maybe, the USA could try saying “Hey IUF, we like the Skill Levels, but they are
not quite right and not defined well enough. Here are our suggestions. Could you
come up with a new version by <some specific date>.”

>As the VP of USA I am in charge of the roster and other membership data that
>comes its way. One of those is skill level data. In the membership roster
>membership book (sold for $2.50) there is a graph showing what riders past what
>levels. Before the skill level change there was a many riders stuck at level 4.
>Now with the level change it is distributed more evenly. This would suggest
>that moving the skills around was a good idea. Ideally, the riders should be
>somewhat evenly distributed among the levels.

Vol. 21 No. 1 of the USA Roster shows 109 riders at level 4, 31 riders at level
5 and 21 riders at level 6. It now appears that riders are still stuck at level
4, now probably due to the overly difficult wheel walking skill in USA level 5.
On the other hand it doesn’t appear that riders are stuck at USA level 6 due to
the hopping on wheel skill.

>From a more relaxed perspective, now at least the number of people in
each level decreases as the level increases, so perhaps the Skill Level change
is a good. The dreaded implication of this, if true, is now the entire IUF
Standard Skill List should be reevaluated for similar problems. Move one brick
and the whole building may collapse.

>As for a huge division in the USA over the skill levels, I have only heard of
>two people being strongly dissatisfied. The issue is welcome for this summer
>USA General Membership meeting. If there is a division I’m sure that I will see
>it there. As for having the IUF and USA agree and coexist, I am all for it.
>Since I was one of the Co-Directors for Unicon VII and I am planning on helping
>a lot with Unicon VIII (where ever it
>is), I want IUF and USA to work together. I hope that we can work something out
> (soon). Maybe a compromise can be worked out. How about the IUF rule
> committee and USA rule committee get together and talk this issue through.

The USA has its Skill Levels and the rest of the world has the IUF Skill Levels.
That is exactly what the people at last year’s USA General Membership meeting
voted for and got. I’d say that people in favour of that vote have nothing to
complain about; non-USA members could do nothing about the vote, yet they are
now forced to deal with two separate sets of Skill Levels. Many USA members see
the injustice of the USA exerting its influence over the rest of world while
denying that influence. That is the beginning of the USA splitting; the USA will
continue to polarize into “USA only” and “International OK” camps so long as
there are “USA only” outspoken people.

>Here is some other comments that I want to respond to: *No, I’m simply stating
>the truth. Anybody who has done a little pogo *stick, can simply just jump onto
>a unicycle tire, squeezing the frame *with his feet and holding the seat with
>his hands as he hops *effortless on the unicycle like a pogo stick. It is a bit
>more *difficult than on a pogo stick which was designed for the purpose, but *a
>person who can’t ride a unicycle normally, can hop on the wheel *easily.
>
>I beg to differ. I encourage anybody to go out and try to pogo stick for 5
>minutes and then try to hop on the wheel for 5 minutes. Let me know if you can
>do any hops on the wheel. Pogo sticks have a big spring so hopping is easy,
>unicycles have a very small spring (the tire and your body) making hopping
>harder. Kids in our club have brought pogo sticks for fun and they can do all
>sorts of tricks on them but they have a very hard time (and still are having a
>hard time) with hopping on the wheel (I’m not talking about transitions, just
>the hopping).

The previous author did say that hopping on the wheel is a bit more difficult
than hopping on a pogo stick, because the pogo stick is better designed for
hopping. The above paragraph seems to be explaining that in more detail, rather
than contradicting it.

>There are members in our club who don’t like to do levels, that is just fine.
>Levels give many kids goals to shoot for.

Whether hopping on the wheel is in level 5 or level 6, the Skill Levels remain
goals to shoot for or ignore.

Stay on Top,

Ken Fuchs <kfuchs@winternet.com

RE: skill levels

Dave wrote:
>>I’d love to see a set of skill levels for distance riders. One possible
standard: miles ridden without dismounting. (Who was the Japanese guy who went
for more than 100 miles without stopping?) >> That was Takayuki Koike. Why
can’t you remember that? But I wouldn’t want to be the guy standing around
testing people on # of miles ridden without a dismount. I can just see myself,
lazing back in my car, inching along behind the weary riders just waiting for
their feet to touch dirt! 1 km or 1 mile could be used as a milestone of some
sort, but it gets boring after that. I was thinking more in terms of curbs,
glass, cracks, bumps, construction zones, crowded sidewalks, etc. jf

RE: skill levels

Seth Golub wrote:
> Jokes aside, your history of skill levels was missing something important: the
> purpose of skill levels. It’s good to have the goals stated explicitly so we
> can tailor the product to fit them, rather than just using whatever skills we
> can think of simply because we can think of them.
>
> Personally, I’ve never been interested in them, but I can imagine some
> possible goals you might have in mind.
>
> 1) Promote interest in unicycling by appealing to people’s competitive
> natures.

Yes. This works well in a club environment.

> 2) Provide a list of skills for people to work on.

This is one of the main purposes for the existing 10 levels, to show people what
they might try, and put it in a progressive order of difficulty so they know
approximately what order to attempt things.

> 3) Create a common basis for comparing riders in some way they find relevant.

Yes.

> 4) Give unicycling organizations something to do. (set rules, test,
> distribute certificates)

No. At least not without a purpose, like above.

So we have skill levels to

  • tell people what’s possible
  • put things in a relative order
  • provide goals and motivation

The first and second reasons are good for people who are on their own. Back in
my early days of riding I was afraid to waste my time trying to freemount my 6
footer because I didn’t know it was humanly possible. How small our perceptions
of “the possible” are when we’re not unicyclists! When someone finally told me
they’d seen it done, only then was I ready to spend hours & hours trying to
figure out how.

On my first visit to the Redford Township Unicycle Club in 1980, I was given a
copy of the skill levels. I saw one foot riding in level 3 and thought “Surely
that’s not possible on a unicycle!” Then they had a 10 year old kid come over
and demo it for me. My jaw was on the floor.

The third reason (goals & motivation) works great in a group or club
environment. When riders can push each other, by trying to learn skills faster
than each other, they can do amazing things. The Twin City Unicycle Club is a
perfect example. They’ve got so much momentum at the moment, it’s hard to tell
when another group is going to catch up.

Having goals will give people things to try. Having things to try will
generate motivation to strive in areas where a rider might otherwise not learn
new skills.

Not everyone is interested in levels, nor should they be. Levels are there for
people who like to play with them, and should not be thought of as the be-all,
end-all of unicycling merit.

Are there any other reasons why we do this?

jf

RE: Skill levels

Scott Arnold wrote:
> One possibility for a different kind of achievement level would be one for
> commuting. How about some kind of official recognition for someone who
> regularly commutes to work? A rider could keep a log of the days and distances
> he/she rides. Maybe a “level one” achievement could be to commute (round trip)
> 250 times (roughly equivalent to a full year of commuting).

Ouch. A whole year just to pass level 1?

Or alternatively, a total commuting distance
> of 1,000 miles (~1,500 km). That would be the equivalent of a 4 mile (~6 km)
> round trip commute. Each additional year of commuting (or 1,000 miles/1,500
> km) could earn another patch or bar, similar to the level patches.

But this is mileage, not skill. I was thinking more in terms of the type of
terrain the rider must master to make the necessary ride. But this doesn’t
really apply to a commuter. If you can make it to work you can commute, and if
you can’t, you’re probably not commuting.

Bicycle clubs do things like Century patches, for riders to keep track of the
centuries they’ve done. Something similar could probably be done with commuting.

Many people simply don’t have the option to commute to work. I live 3.5 miles
away (at the moment) and have unicycled it a few times, but it’s a bit far,
especially in the summer when I’d get all sweaty in the first 100yds.

If it’s a “commuter” award, only commuters should be eligible. But if it’s
levels for outdoor cruising, we still might be able to come up with something
that anyone can learn and pass. Here’s a rough idea:

  1. gym floor
  2. smooth sidewalk
  3. nasty sidewalk
  4. cars & pedestrians
  5. curbs
  6. steps

There could also be merit for speed:
7. 1 mile in under 7 minutes (from the old USA levels)
8. 2 miles in under 14 minutes
9. 10 miles in under 70 minutes
10. 1 mile in under 6 minutes etc.

More useful, though, I think would be levels for schools or clubs. Here the
traditional skill levels could be broken down into chunks that are small enough
for the environment in which they will be used.

jf

Re: skill levels

the first mount I learned after the traditional freemount was the suicide mount.
A less intimidating version of this mount is the jump mount. There’s absolutely
nothing to it, really… it helps if you’re already comfortable hopping, though,
that’s not paramount.

Jump mount: the pedals should be horizontal. While holding the seat, jump from
the ground to the pedals, land yourself on the seat and ride off. The suicide
mount is the same, only you let go of the seat before making the jump.

It’s almost entirely a mental thing… techincally, very simiple, but what a
rush when you get it right for the first time. (Actually, I’m still quite
frightened to do the jump mount… I’m much more comfortable with the
suicide mount.)

good luck, jl

>a few questions regarding skill levels:
>
>Level 1: I am assuming that “mount unicycle unassisted” means a free
>mount…not holding on to a car, lamp post, etc?
>
>Types of Mounts…I understand left foot and right foot free mounts. What
>about eight other types to aspire towards? Details? (especially for the
>easier ones).
>
>Thanks!
>_________________________________________________________________
>Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com
>


Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com

RE: skill levels

On Mon, 9 Nov 1998, Foss, JohnX wrote:

>
> > 2) Provide a list of skills for people to work on.
>
> This is one of the main purposes for the existing 10 levels, to show people
> what they might try, and put it in a progressive order of difficulty so they
> know approximately what order to attempt things.
>
> > 3) Create a common basis for comparing riders in some way they find
> > relevant.
>
> Yes.
>

If the skill levels are going to be revised I suggest that they be named
meaningfully rather than numbered. For example, something like:

beginner novice intermediate advanced expert elite

John H

I’m 23 and have been stuck around level 5-6 for about 2 years. I’ve been
riding for 8 years, and really only mastered wheel walking (i.e., being
really comfortable with it and able to go for about 50 m regularly)
recently. I’m also a bit stuck on dsmounting wheel hopping and can’t be
bothered learning right foot one footing… Here are some factors
contributing to my skill plateau

  • other interests / lack of time / intense university schedule (I probably
    only `practise’ for an average of half an hour a week)
  • other unicycling interests (I’m into trials, hockey and ofroading, which
    don’t really contribute to skills like ww and wheel hopping)
  • lack of peers (there is only one other rider I know of a similar skill
    level, but we rarely ride together). This is probably the greatest
    limiting factor for my (and probably other people’s) slowness in
    learning difficult or scary tricks. At least the internet is a constant
    source of inspiration.
  • the fear factor: somehow the thought of pain and suffering really
    doesn’t do it for me any more
  • boredom: why would I want to learn one foot riding with the RIGHT foot?
  • weather: it’s raining at the moment
  • laziness: yeah well…
  • krap uni: my seat really hurts and my cranks are permanently bent and I
    can’t afford to fix them.

Actually, looking at that list, there’s a lot that I can overcome. At the
moment, I’m not really that bothered about improving skill levels, I’d
rather learn to hop higher and learn to pedal grab. However,the same
factors contribute to me not learning thos skills.

nic

On Mon, 24 Dec 2001, harper wrote:

> When Ryan Woessner achieved skill level 10 he was the youngest at 13
> among a very small group all of who achieved this level in their teens.
> I thought that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. People are
> hopefully still patting him on the back every time they see him.
>
> Is it possible for someone in their 20’s, 30’s, or beyond to achieve
> this level or is this something like female Olympic class gymnasts
> where, if you are out of your teens, you really can’t compete anymore?
> I’m not interested in the “anything is possible if you…” responses.
> I’m interested in responses from the older (apparently over 20 is
> older), higher skill level riders giving an indication of what the real
> limitations are for them. In particular, what is it in skill level 7, 8
> or 9 that you just haven’t been able to do and why do you think that
> particular skill is so difficult for you? Maybe you can’t practice
> enough anymore because you have to support yourself and a family or some
> other time constraint.
>
> I also am not asking you to be self deprecating. Since posting to this
> group I have learned to do more things in the last year than in all my
> previous 38 years of riding. I do things on a unicycle now that I never
> even thought were possible and I’m just getting ready to pass skill
> level four. Last year I would have considered it to be impossible to be
> where I am now and I still look at some of the things in the upper skill
> levels and say, “no way.”
>
>
>
>
> –
> harper Posted via the Unicyclist Community -
> http://unicyclist.com/forums
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