Stillstand practice (5 months of no improvement!)

I have been working on stillstands 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week since December 6 of last year. For the first 3 months of practice I made very slow progress but at least I made some progress. For the last 5 months I have made no progress whatsoever!! I’m starting to think that this skill in unachievable at my age and/or ability level. I still cannot consistently perform a stillstand for any length of time. However, once every week or so I’ll get a 10 second still stand. On the other end of the spectrum there are times when I fall over immediately on almost every attempt. I am a patient person but 5 months of no progress would strain the patience of almost anyone.

I practice standing up on a 24-inch club with a hookworm tire. I start facing a wall 2 feet in front of me with two chairs on either side of me so I can catch myself when I cannot recover from a fall. I wonder if my flexibility is lacking because when I try to recover by pushing my hip to one side my upper body leans so far to the other side that it completely negates my hip movement. I also heavily rely on my hands in addition to my hips.

Any suggestions on how I can continue to improve?

I have a much harder time trying to do stillstands on flat ground. For me it’s a lot easier to do them on real skinnies even when they are near to the ground (like 5cm). My stillstand skills came completely without practice - one day I was able to do them. I am sure that’s just because I had improved my overall unicycle and balance skills (trials, street and muni). I would say you should not focus too much on stillstands, just try them from time to time.

Try and sit down. Thats how i do it and i can stand still for about 49 seconds (time recorded at unicon).

Take a look at how fabian mark is doing it:

I have tried sitting down on my KH20 but that was much harder! I’ve also tried them standing up on my KH20 and that was also harder than my 24-inch club. I think it is because the KH20 has more Q factor than the club. I know it is harder to stand two-footed on a wobble board when my feet are futher apart then when my feet are close. This could explain why I have a harder time with the KH20 than with the club.

I’ve also wondered if I need to mix things up a little more. I know with running and weightlifting you need to change your routine to make progress. I don’t know if this also applies to brain training skills like balance. Perhaps I should try sitting down sometimes even though it is harder and mix things up by switching between the club and the KH20.

I would lose the chairs and start doing them everywhere, don’t have one specific spot where you practice it. Make the world your practice spot. Do them standing, do them sitting, do them on stairs, do them on curbs, do them in the burbs, do them in the day, do them in the hay…

Sorry, too much Dr. Seuss :slight_smile: but you get the idea.

I’d suggest not bothering going out to practice standstills, and practicing something else instead. Go out to practice the long jump (or anything else), then each time you mount, see how long you can standstill for. Each time you are going to jump, do a standstill for as long as you can. Each time you are going to get off, see how long you can standstill for. That way, you will improve at standstills, be able to do them at any point, rather than just once you’ve mounted or stopped or whatever, and you’ll improve at another skill at the same time. This has been my technique, and I managed 17 seconds after a couple of weeks. Then forgot I was practicing them, so I can’t do them for that long any more, but that’s besides the point.

If you come up with a learning technique that works for you please share it. The advice given here is good but you may hit upon something we haven’t thought of yet. I’m not great at still stands but have worked a lot on riding skinnies (curbs and train tracks, not up to fence tops yet). That seems to help me a lot.

You mentioned that it’s easier to balance on a wobble board when your feet are closer together… one thing that helped me on my first practice session with hopping was putting my feet on the crank arms instead of the pedals. You might get an initial boost to get you over the hump by trying to get your feet closer together via standing on the cranks?

Of course that method would have to be vetted by someone that can actually still stand. As you know I can’t… to many basic skills I need to work on.

It has taken me years and years of riding to get good at still stands. I only started focusing on improving them over the winter, with good results.

I would suggest getting a skinny to work on, getting progressively skinnier. This way you will have a more “natural” still stand, and one in which you can hold in any position. Try riding the rail slower and slower. You will find yourself naturally stopping to readjust. I find skinnies much less frustrasting to practice, and are more rewarding, especially hand rails. I’ve done 16 revs on a 24 on a rail in paris before unicon. I didn’t compete at the still stand because I caught a bug and was vomiting in my hotel room.

Some tips:

#1 is mental. Turn off your head and let your body do it for you. Easier said than done obv. Just practice more and let your confidence rise. If you’re frustrated (like you seem to be), performance will go down. Come back when you have a clear head, or go practice something else for a while.

Shoulders should be back in neutral position. Straight back. Tilt had as little as possible to see the rail under you.

Use stabilizer muscles in your hips, torso and shoulders, use arms as leverage and a way to unify your body. The hips are the most crucial part in controlling your center of mass. I talked with Kris a few years ago in Vancouver for the muni weekend, and he suggest an emphasis on hip movement. Use your hips above all else.

A lot of people have weak cores, and even more people have weak stabilizers.
I find my upper abs burn after a while of practicing rails, and I have over developed upper abs from controlling the swings of my torso. Your (external) obliques are obviously used. My deltoids also get really fatigued after a long still stand. Still stands use a large amount of muscle groups and you need to learn how to coordinate them. They’ll get stronger as you practice.

While I am impressed by your dicipline and rigor (I would not be able to stand this for much more than a week) it triggers the question in my mind, whether this is fun to you. Do you enjoy yourself doing this? What is your motivation?

Well, it would be fun if I improved at a faster rate. Part of my motivation is that this skill seemed like the ultimate balance feat. The other part is that I hoped it would improve my muni skills. Initially it did seem to improve my muni skills but that stopped when my progress stagnated. Another reason is that I work at a desk all day and I need to get up and do something occasionally and stillstand practice is the only thing I feel safe doing on my unicycle in my office. I usually practice about 6 times during the day for about 5 minutes each time.

I appreciate all the advice and I’ll be sure to put then into practice. I have been working hard on using my hips but for some reason I seem to move my upper body too far in the opposite direction which negates my hip movement. Has anyone else experience this problem when they were learning stillstands?

Have you tried practicing off your uni just to get the muscle memory for your hip/upper body movements? Might help…

I’ve found that it takes me 10 or 15 minutes to get warmed up before I can do a decent still stand. I don’t make any progress until after the warm up period. Really short practice sessions don’t work for me. Maybe you’re the same way.

I think this is the right way to think about it. It should feel like you’re tilting the frame with your hips instead of leaning side to side with your shoulders.

I was going to post this. Practicing on a slack line could be quite helpful… many of the same muscle groups and body movements are used between the two disciplines.

I understand better now your situation and motivation and I can relate to it!

I have a freestyle unicycle on my balcony, which I use occasionally. This has some similarities to the constraints you have in your office. Still I would give you the same recommendation as other people did before: do different things! Idleing, backwards and one footed cycling, jumping, wheel walk … and try stillstand just inbetween in different conditions. Forget about your feat for a while and come back to it at a later point in time. I saw many times that progess in one area fuels progress in another area. I tend rather not to believe that any specific tips about stillstand technique will help you.


Practice other things (including riding skinnies or simply riding extremely slow). I would even say take a complete break from stillstands for a short while. It might help you “unlearn” some of your bad habits since you haven’t made any progress in such a long time.

5 months of no improvement can be called stillstand…

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I sometimes work with my wobble board and I practiced one legged standing but I not as much as as should. Perhaps I should increase my practice with those exercises. The slackline idea that maestro suggested would also be a good addition.

I’m starting to get the idea that the best way to progress is to work on a lot of different things. Somehow I thought I could shortcut a lot of that by going after one of the hardest balance feats but it seems that just sets me up for frustration. I’m going to start riding skinnies and working on my idle and my hopping. I can idle for quite a while but I don’t do it properly. I need to learn to drive the idle more with my lower leg so that hopefully I can migrate to one legged idling and one legged riding.

Thanks to all for the great advice.