Teaching the Kids

I’ve pulled my Uni out of the attic (30 yrs) and replaced tire, tube, peddles, seat, post.

Joined the local club. Am learning how to hop and idle.

My daughters became interested. Bought a 20" for the 12 yr old and a 16" for the 8 yr old.

After just 2 hours (over several days) the 12er has “ridden”.

8 yr old still can’t get past the 3 revolution wall.

I read on here someone suggests to learners to keep head up and back straight and hips forward…

Any other good tips?


I thought I had read somewhere that it helps to use the two person method. Meaning one person holding the right arm and one holding the left arm as they ride on the unicycle and gradually reduce the reliance on both people, perhaps working towards riding with only one person holding.

Thanks. At my club we’ve found that letting them ride behind a shopping cart is a good way to let them learn the muscle memory of peddling round and round.

Re: Teaching the Kids

This summer my family and I also took on the task of learning to
unicycle. Myself 36, My daughter 11 and my son 5. We all learned and
it’s great fun!!

Here are our learning times for basic riding (if my memory is good):

Myself: 9-12 practice hours to go a few meters
My Daughter: 6 hours to go a few meters
My son: 14-15 hours to go a few meters

About another 4 or 5 practice hours and we were all riding around the

Here is how we did it:

Step 1) The Deck

All of us started on our wooden deck, grasping the rail for help (going
back and forth by the railing). We did this 1 hour per day for about a
week. A deck is a really good place to learn (especially for children)
because they can practice on their own which helps build their
confidence, and if they fall it’s not as hard as concrete.

Step 2) Assisted riding

Daughter (age 11 at the time):
With my daughter, we did this with the aid of one spotter who simply
held her hand. We would go to a local running track (1/4) mile and spot
her four times around the track each day (resting between laps). Soon I
started loosening my grip and letting her solo for a comfortable
distance, then grab her hand again. She did this for longer and longer
runs until she could just ride on forever. She was the fastest learner
in our trio. (Note: I didn’t really hold her hand, I just held my hand
palm up and let her rest her hand on top of it, she would grab it when
necessary for balance).

Son (age 5 at the time):
My son took just a bit longer but was very eager to learn. He would
practice 2 hours or more per day if we let him, and on some days we did.
I tried to keep his practice time to an hour or so, fearing that he
would burn out or get discouraged if he rode too much. Like my daughter,
we spotted him with a single spotter but not around the running track.
The track was just too curvy and wavy for him to feel comfortable. We
practiced in front of our home where the street is straight and flat.
Soon I was walking with him around the block (holding his hand) and
that’s when he started having his ‘zen moments’ and soloing. However,
unlike my daughter he needed a ‘target’. Riding down the street without
a goal seemed difficult for him. So we invented, ‘unicycle tag’. I would
hold his hand and walk with him towards my wife, when I felt he had his
balance I would let go and tell him to “catch your Mama”. We played this
game for about three days backing up further and further as he
approached, also moving to the side, but always letting him catch us! We
didn’t want him to get hurt and become discouraged. When he did fall, we
always praised him for not getting hurt, and pointed out what fun it is
even to fall off a unicycle. Soon enough the game become one with me
running all around the street and him speeding after me.

My children are now my riding partners, and my son is my MUni partner.
It’s a great family experience!

Tips for all ages:

  1. Practice everyday for 1 hour. I believe the biggest part of learning
    is simply sitting in the saddle. The more you do it, the quicker your
    brain will begin to learn how to balance in this new situation.

  2. Sit down. Make sure, “all” your weight is on the saddle. (note: I
    didn’t have to teach this to my children, but it was challenging for
    me). It’s easier to balance with all your weight over your balance
    point. When you stand up on the pedals, you shift your weight to your
    feet creating instability.

  3. When using a spotter or a railing, start with your pedals parallel to
    the ground and travel in half revolutions, stopping and regaining your
    balance after each half rev. After this can be done comfortably, go to
    one rev or more and always try to stop and regain your balance if you
    get out of control.

  4. Be sure your saddle is high enough. This means that your knee is only
    slightly bent when fully extended to the lower pedal. This will also
    help ensure that you have all you weight on the saddle.

  5. Sit up straight. Don’t look at the ground, look straight ahead. I
    would have my son look at my face when we played unicycle tag. More than
    any of us, he had a tendency to look down at the ground.

One observation I made with both of my children was that they had a
preference as to which hand I held when spotting them. I always tried to
accommodate them by holding the hand they rode better with.

I hope you find this useful.



Re: Teaching the Kids

On Mon, 14 Oct 2002 14:09:04 -0500, Memphis Mud
<Memphis.Mud.cj2fn@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

Being able to “ride” after 2 hours (your 12-yo) is above-average. The
8-yo apparently needs a more usual amount of practice. 10 hours would
not be uncommon at all, but if she’s already at 3 revolutions I bet
she’ll get it under 10 hours.

>Any other good tips?

Ride hand in hand with her if you can do that. Let her hold to a pole
or whatever, ride up to her from behind and pick her up. In my
experience, the support you can give her while riding yourself works
better than if you would be walking. And it’s very rewarding to do for
both of you.

Klaas Bil

I posted only a single copy of this message.

Teaching the Kids

You don’t know how lucky you are, I was writing up a reply that was getting way too long and the site burped and I lost the entire thing!

Now for the abridged version.

One of the best tools in my garage is this ladder (if someone could explain how to attach a photo to a post I would be much obliged):


I tie it to the center posts to keep it from falling over. Both my girls, all their friends, and now my son all use it for learning and practicing new skills. (My son is an entire different topic for a future thread, he has Down Syndrome and will be a uni-rider some day, we’ll talk about disability tips later). There’s something nice about the open space below the horizontal section.

I taught both my girls and we’ve had a lot of uni-dads come to our club practice with their kids looking for help, somehow I always seem to end up with them. Some additional tips:

Don’t rush, explain it only takes time. Riding a unicycle is not impossible, it just takes time and practice. Keep it fun.

Practice with family, friends, and any other riders. Misery loves company. Have other riders help, when kids see someone as “coach” rather than “parent” they listen. We have both 5 & 6 yo kids riding, that is really encouraging & motivating to a kid who is learning.

Give them a sturdy structure where they can be centered, like the ladder or two sturdy chairs they can hold onto while rocking and getting used to the wheel. It is better they be able to stay centered rather than leaning onto a wall or fence. When they get to the stage when they are riding along a fence/wall, keep them centered.

When using one or two others as spoters, let the rider hold onto you rather than you grabbing them. I like to make a tight fist and have them place their hands over my fist. As they get more comfortable their grip will relax.

Try for good posture from the start. As I’ve stated in other threads, back straight and hips forward (the same thing I teach with skiing). With kids its easier to say “chin up” than get into complex instructions. Show them the proper posture, a good visual example is worth how many words? Its a lot harder to ride doubled over than sitting up.

Encourage them to launch into the abyss one step at a time. Counting peddle strokes is more motivating (two peddle strokes equals one full rotation). Try one stroke and step off, then two and step off, etc. in no time they’re wobbling all over.

Stop when too tired or re-gressing, this is supposed to be fun.

This is getting way too long again.

Memphis Mud,

Are you located in Memphis? I guess I could have clicked on your profile. If so, the Memphis Unicycle Club rocks! I wish I lived there instead of Jackson, MS just for the sake of having a club! I come up and visit about every 2-3 months so if you are from Memphis, perhaps we will meet.



Thanks to all for the tips. All good stuff.

No kidding, at the end of 120 minutes (over several days) she rode!!!

Lewis, Yes I’m a member of MUC. I’ve read about you. If you come up regularly, you know that Tommy is a dynamo. He keeps us all enthused.

Look forward to mtg you.