Skill progression questions

Hi.

I’m trying to figure out what a normal skill progression is for riders before they get to Level 1, which is freemount, ride, dismount.

What would be a logical breakdown of skills?

Here’s a possible list:

.1 Ride forward 5 revolutions with support (wall or helper)
.2 Dismount with uni in front with support (wall or helper)
.3 Ride forward 7 revolutions with one other rider
.4 Dismount with uni in front, unassisted
.5 Ride unassisted 3 revolutions
.6 Ride unassisted 15 revolutions
.7 Ride unassisted 5 revolutions, dismount with uni in front
.8 Standard freemount (forward or rollback), ride 1 revolution
.9 Standard freemount, ride 3 revolutions, dismount with uni in front

Are there other methods out there to help riders get to Level 1 or beyond?

Also, what about idling? It’s required for Level 4, but I wonder if it’s an easier skill, since I can idle and I’m no where near Level 4.

And, in Level 2, a rider must mount with right foot, and mount with left foot. I think that the non-dominant foot mount is an important skill. But I’m wondering, how many riders continue to learn to do mounts with either foot? Is there a good reason to do that?

Thanks.

Carol
Minnesota

I didn’t find dismounting with the uni in front that easy… I was still finishing with the uni behind when I could bounce down steps. Getting off the front was easier, and it wasn’t until I started riding in busier places that it was really a problem.

The opposite with idling… it’s quite hard, but its usefulness probably makes people learn it sooner.

Phil

skills

I personaly found that riding assisted didnt help me at all so i just learned by lining up between 2 chair and pedaling off into nowhere. I think this was the easiest way to learn to ride. mounting on the other had was hard and i still have problems. dismounting seat in front i can do but i have to think about it when i do because seat out back is just sdo much more natural since i’m “leaning” foward anyway.

Re: Skill progression questions

In article <Carol.McLean.ho2uo@timelimit.unicyclist.com>,
Carol McLean <Carol.McLean.ho2uo@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
)
)Hi.
)
)I’m trying to figure out what a normal skill progression is for riders
)before they get to Level 1, which is freemount, ride, dismount.
)
)What would be a logical breakdown of skills?
)
)Here’s a possible list:
)
)1 Ride forward 5 revolutions with support (wall or helper)
)2 Dismount with uni in front with support (wall or helper)
)3 Ride forward 7 revolutions with one other rider
)4 Dismount with uni in front, unassisted
)5 Ride unassisted 3 revolutions
)6 Ride unassisted 15 revolutions
)7 Ride unassisted 5 revolutions, dismount with uni in front
)8 Standard freemount (forward or rollback), ride 1 revolution
)9 Standard freemount, ride 3 revolutions, dismount with uni in front
)
)Are there other methods out there to help riders get to Level 1 or
)beyond?

I think dismounting with the uni in front should really be learned
after freemounting; it’s not all that easy at first, and it’s not
really that useful, certainly nowhere near as useful as freemounting.

)Also, what about idling? It’s required for Level 4, but I wonder if
)it’s an easier skill, since I can idle and I’m no where near Level 4.

Everyone learns differently, but I think most people find idling to be
a fairly difficult skill, at least judging from our uni basketball
group. It’s probably harder than any of the level 3 skills except
maybe stomach-on-seat. 10 meters backwards (another level 4 skill) is
easier than idling with your bad foot, and probably easier than idling
with your good foot.

)And, in Level 2, a rider must mount with right foot, and mount with left
)foot. I think that the non-dominant foot mount is an important skill.
)But I’m wondering, how many riders continue to learn to do mounts with
)either foot? Is there a good reason to do that?

I certainly haven’t. I think advanced mounts are used either just to
pass skill levels, or for performances, and since you don’t need to
use your off foot for either of those, I doubt it’s common to learn
“side mount, leg around seat 3 times” with both feet. It might be
useful to learn rolling mount and jump mount with both feet, since you
could conceivably use those in real-world situations (say, while
MUni’ing and needing to mount heading uphill) and there might be cases
where using your off foot is better (like, you’re on the edge of a
cliff and you want to lean the other way).
-Tom

Re: Skill progression questions

The list you provided covers most of the bases of getting to level 1. I don’t think the order matters too much at that stage, other than not worrying about freemounting until you can ride away (otherwise how do you know you really freemounted?).

The freemount alone is perhaps almost equal in difficulty to learning to ride forward. People will need to spend a while on that. While doing so, their forward riding will hopefully improve as well.

People were replying about how dismounting to the front is easier. Yes, it’s like falling off a log. That’s why level 1 asks you to dismount to the rear, to show some control. The forward dismount is an “easy” trick for everyone by the time they can ride 10 feet. Dismounting to the rear is the preferred way to get off the unicycle in crowded situations, when you don’t want someone to be tripped by something popping out behind you.

Good for you! Idling is probably harder for the average person than it was for you.

A couple of good reasons are versatility, so your body doesn’t get too one-sided, and speed. The main place where I think mounting with either foot would be useful is in games like hockey and basketball, where time is of the essence and sometimes you need to get going now! If I played those games regularly, I’m sure I would be stronger at mounting with my non-dominant foot. As it is, I can mount that way, but my “bits” are conditioned to mounting from the usual side. Mounting from the other side has to be done with care, for me.

I dont like the idea of having a proper way to learn how to unicycle. Everyone learns a bit differentlly and you have to to get used to the way your body reacts to being in a strange situation of riding a unicycle. There are many different methods to learn. But Pre level 1 skills are not needed.

I actually found freemounts quite easy. By the time I could ride 5 pedal revolutions I could freemount with 50% success.
-Isaac

On Wed, 22 Jan 2003 10:54:54 -0600, Carol McLean <Carol.McLean.ho2uo@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>What would be a logical breakdown of skills?

Whatever works for the learner in question. I think the keyword is variation - a bit of this, then a bit of that, with the added advantage that beginning to master skill A often has a positive effect on learning skill B. That certainly applies when learning higher skill levels, IMHO.

>Also, what about idling? It’s required for Level 4, but I wonder if
>it’s an easier skill, since I can idle and I’m no where near Level 4.

Me too. I could idle before I was level 2, because of that dreaded “other foot mount”. But it will be different for others I’m sure.

Klaas Bil
[no sig line for forum posts]

On Wed, 22 Jan 2003 12:52:41 -0600, johnfoss <johnfoss.ho86b@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>I don’t think the order matters too much at that stage, other than not
>worrying about freemounting until you can ride away (otherwise how do
>you know you really freemounted?).

That’s right. A guy at the unicycling club was practicing his freemount at the same time as I did. But he couldn’t ride yet (while I could). He claimed that he could freemount before me, but that he just couldn’t prove it. LOL!

Klaas Bil
[no sig line for forum posts]

I don’t think the order of learned skills is ever important. I learned to ride one-footed before idling. Now I can idle with either foot, but am much stronger riding with (only) my right than (only) my left. -And I still have to think when I mount with my non-dominate foot. For a level 2, I’m a solid trail rider able to make many obstacles bikes have trouble, but I can’t get myself to do a rolling mount and am really afraid to try a suicide mount. I think we learn things when we’re ready.
As far as pre-level 1, I was happy when I was able to dismount with face-not-on-sidewalk and never paid attention to the cycle in front or behind! -But that was before the internet was available and my brother and I learned by trial and error. Mostly error.

Breakdown Everything.

I think your breakdown of level 1 skills is commendable. I needed all the help I could get including ways to think about approaching trying to ride. I know your list would have been motivating to me. It is fairly intuitive by about 6th grade that we all learn a bit differently as to rate and sequence but outlines like yours need to be encouraged. The whole point of writing out a developmental scale is it to help the new learner, learn the task with a greater degree of efficiency. Efficiency means to learn more quickly. Trial and error is ok but slow. That is why we are all here reading about the experiences of others. To pick up tips, sequences, approaches, etc to make our learning more efficient and fun.

All this praise is given to motivate you Carol to write out a task breakdown for idling. Please. I need your help. Give me some tips. I already know it is trial and error. But I want more. Tell me how I can do things better and faster. I’m sure I’ll have more fun. Help anyone help.
:o

Re: Skill progression questions

Hey Everybody,

I’ve been lurking on this group for awhile and finally feel I can add my
2 cents’ worth. I bought a unicycle just before Thanksgiving
(Unicycle.com was great!) and have proceeded to learn since then.

I try to ride about an hour each day, 4 or 5 times a week. The first
three days I rode while gripping the rail on my deck, reaching the point
where I could go a revolution or so without holding on.

Then I rode off into the abyss of my backyard (which is mostly dirt
thanks to Atlanta’s summer drought). I think riding without having
anything to hold onto really helped me learn faster. After another week
or so I could ride about 10 revolutions in a straight line, about as far
as my backyard reached.

Then I decided to start freemounting. I spent one day doing nothing but
trying to mount, and finally succeeded – ONCE – at the end of that
day. For me, mounting was by far the most difficult skill. I’m still not
happy with how I do and work on it alot.

I continued to ride in the backyard, practicing mounting and making
turns. Then, two weekends ago, I ventured out into a nearby park that
has some old closed-off roads in it. I’m able to ride about 700 or 800
feet at a time before getting too tired and hopping off to rest a bit.
Turning on asphalt is alot easier than on dirt. Falling on asphalt
however is alot harder :-). I’m getting better at mounting but still
need to work on it. I have tried mounting with my weak foot (right)
exactly once and don’t know if I will ever be able to do it. I’ll try,
though it’s not a priority for me.

One thing I have never had a problem with, though, is a rear dismount. I
have always been able dismount to the rear just as easily and with as
much control as to the front. I’m surprised to hear that many people
have a tough time with this, since it seems so easy for me. Maybe it
makes up for not being able to mount very well. I guess we’re all a
little different.

The thing I’m working most on is building endurance. After that I want
to learn to idle.

Anybody have any advice or suggestions?

Thanks,

Tom


Tom Kelley
tpkelley@mindspring.com

For Freemounting I suggest the “fake stepping on your brother’s stomach” technique.

If your brother won’t lay down on the floor for you, then any delicate crunchable thing will do.

why not place a couple of phonebooks on the floor, topped off with an empty coke can.

place one foot gingerly on the can. Holding this foot in place, hop the other foot over to the other side of the books without crushing the can (or your sibling, if applicable).

Then move on to the Uni, put pedals in 3 and 9 position (or so). This technique might help those who jam down too hard on the back pedal, winding up in the “dead zone” with pedals at 12 and 6 position. Usually just the weight of your foot (no pushing) should hold it in place during the mount.

You’ve got to get your weight over the top. Else, you’ll fall off backwards.

To dismount with Uni in front:
at the end of your ride, slow down, slow down again, slow down again, now at a crawl…hold back pedal still and slowly timber backwards. Your front foot will instinctively come back to help. One or two tries and you’re “gracefull”

Ok. Here it is – idling skill progression:

  1. Bring unicycle into kitchen.

  2. Sit on unicycle.

  3. Put pedal with dominant foot on it down.

  4. Hold on to the top of the microwave with one hand.

  5. Move dominant foot back and forth, over and over and over and over and over . . . .

  6. Don’t fall into the butter.

This is how I learned to idle. It’s one of the few skills a person can learn in the kitchen. (Other than how to make a soufflé, of course.)

I still say idling isn’t that difficult. With a million hours of practice, it’s no big deal. I think part of it is just strengthening the foot and leg, which can be done while holding on to something. However, I’m no expert, as others here are.

I agree that idling is a very useful skill. One-foot idling is cool. I’m practicing that with my left foot now. Riding in the kitchen is my best bet today since it’s ridiculously cold in Minnesota.

Err, um, I mean it’s lovely in Minnesota and you should all plan to come here in July, when it’s warm, no bugs, no humidity, and well, just generally perfect in every way.

Carol

I have more skill progression questions for you.

John Foss mentions speed as one good reason to learn to mount with both right foot and left foot.

Hockey players: do you find that you use either foot when re-mounting quickly during a game?

MUni or Trials riders: do you find you use either foot when mounting?

Anyone: Would you argue for or against learning mounts, idling, and one-foot with both right foot and left foot?

When I concentrated on learning to idle with my other foot, it really didn’t take too much effort to get it. (I do not generally learn quickly. Trust me.)

It seems that developing the non-dominant side may give me more control in general. Also, since unicycling is all about balance, doesn’t it seem somewhat logical to develop both sides, dominant and non-dominant? Doing that is harder and should be greater proof of mastery of balance. (Did that make any sense?)

What do you think?

Thanks.

Carol
Minnesota

Excellent advice!!! That is exactly the way I freemount, but I learned to do it on my uni. The only thing I have to add is : as you hop up onto the saddle, be sure to lean your upper body slightly forward as you make those first few cranks of the pedal. This really seemed to help me gain forward momentum

Re: Skill progression questions

In article <Carol.McLean.j03bn@timelimit.unicyclist.com>,
Carol McLean <Carol.McLean.j03bn@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
)
)John Foss mentions speed as one good reason to learn to mount with both
)right foot and left foot.
)
)Hockey players: do you find that you use either foot when re-mounting
)quickly during a game?
)
)MUni or Trials riders: do you find you use either foot when mounting?
)
)Anyone: Would you argue for or against learning mounts, idling, and
)one-foot with both right foot and left foot?

When I play basketball, I always mount with my normal mounting foot,
though there are some guys who will mount with whatever is closest.
At MUni, I can definitely see the benefit of being solid with your
non-dominant foot, because there are lots of different trail conditions
where it might work better to mount on the other side. Again, I personally
am not there.

I think you should learn the static mount from both sides, and idling
from both sides; there is practial value to both of those skills.
Once you’re into one-foot skills, you’re beyond anything practical, so
do whatever you’re interested in doing.
-Tom

Firstly, any new rider needs to be reassured that the Skill Levels are not compulsory, and they are only relevant to a certain type of rider. This is particularly true of the higher level skills, which have no ‘practical’ application for MUni, road riding, or (I suspect) trials.

This is why I like to think of ‘skills’ as things which will help you to ride better (e.g. freemounting, idling, reversing) and ‘tricks’ as things which have no useful purpose, but are fun (e.g. one foot riding, stomach on seat and so on).

So for a new rider, I’d suggest learn as follows:

  1. Learn to ride a reasonable distance.
  2. Get used to steering.
  3. Learn to freemount.
  4. Tidy up 1,2, and 3, and learn to dismount gracefully!

My mate Andy rode 4+ miles with me yesterday, mostly on easy but muddy trails, but with some challenging obstacles. His freemounting is around 50% (when not fatigued!) and he often does an assisted mount to save energy. However, he’s capable of riding 1/2 mile or more in comfortable control of the uni. The fact that he is now riding far enough for unicycling to have some ‘purpose’ beyond simply being able to ride it is now inspiring him to work harder at his freemounting to extend his range. Now he’s experimenting with idling, and I even caught him trying a crafty hop yesterday!

when i started out i didnt know anything about skill levels. i think the most important thing is to learn to ride and then pick which way you want to go with unicycling.
Muni
Trials
Circus, just joking (unless someone really is into the circus stuff)

idling came pretty easy to me too, but the whole learning process was quick. i learned to ride in like 4 days but i think my dads genes had something to do with that. Ive never really developed my non-dominant foot but im mostly interested in Muni and Trials.
I learned how to one foot ride and one foot idle with my dominant foot and then my non-dominant foot just sorta knew how to do it.

as for learning a free-mount, i just put the back of the wheel next to the curb and pushed off using the curb to balance me and then you eventually get the feel and it just comes natural.

As for having to mount from either left or right, i really dont see a need to know both but keep in mind i ride Muni, but as i said it comes easy for the nondominant foot once you learn so…

happy riding

People come up to me all the time and want to try out my unicycle, so the subject of what preskills do they need to know always enters my mind. I’m afraid they will end up breaking something on their first attempt to get on the unicycle, and never try it again.

Pre riding skills might include:

  • being able to properly mount the unicycle against a wall,
  • being able to properly mount the unicycle with a wall , or other support, beside you (i.e. one hand on a support)
  • being able to sit on the unicycle against the wall
  • same, using no hands on wall, just foot pressure on pedals.
  • being able to sit on the unicycle while holding on to something with one hand.
  • being able to read a two page disclaimer and explanation of unicycling while sitting on the unicycle against the wall. :)
  • riding one half revolution with the two assistants (then more) -- riders should stop with pedals in a horizontal position for greater control, initially riders should learn to think in term of this ride/pause method. I have applied it to learning backward, seat out back with great success.
  • riding with one assistant
  • from against the wall, lean forward and step off the uni with the back foot. If you do this one right, the uni wheel will not move since the seat lean will push the uni back into the wall.

I think these learning steps are important because not everyone is going to pick up unicycling in a day or a week. Most will never try much beyond their first attempts if it isn’t made clear that the learning curve is steep, and it is natural to find it difficult even to sit on a unicycle at first.
Shouldn’t new riders feel a sense of accomplishment at getting though the pre-riding skills? Their confidence, and perspective would be much improved in the process.

Freemounting is much easier to learn if you think in terms of overdoing the forward motion to get onto the uni. I help kids all the time with this one comment, and they usually get it right within a few attempts. I think the extra momentum also keeps them from pushing down too much on the back pedal, which exaggerates the problem by moving the front pedal up where you have less leverage to move forward.

The rollback mount is much easier to learn with your weak foot. This is the mount where you start out like a regular free mount, but you push down on the pedal and let the unicycle roll back underneath you. The key to this mount is to relax you leg when the pedal reaches the bottom of the stroke. This is a great mount to learn because once you are mounted you can go forward, backward or idle. The reason is that you can control the amount of momentum you put into the mount. This mount also make learning the backmount much easier. The thought of jumping up backward just didn’t work for me, but the roll(forward) mount makes it all feel just like idling.

For skill level 2, it would be helpful if the rollback mount were considered a different mount, as it would probably encourage riders to learn that one before going to the other foot.

I learned idling in almost the same setting as Carol, just replace the microwave with a refrigerator. This points out the importance of finding skills that are less difficult, but that teach the essence of the skill you want to learn. Most would not consider idling while holding on to something to be a unicycling skill, but if it gives you more seat time the result will be quicker learning.