Wheel Walking: Falling on my back a lot

Hi Folks,
I am learning how to wheel walk. I can regularly go between 6 and 10 feet.

Now that I am actually able to do it for a short distance, the character of my UPDs has changed, I am landing flat on my back, or elbows and wrists. I am wearing helmet, wrist and elbow protection. But it remains a jarring experience.

I believe the problem lies in how far I am leaning back. Probably too far.

Any thouhts on some drills I can do to fine tune my leaning without the risk of falling like that, or what I might be doing wrong?


ouch, i wanna try wheelwalking!.. cant u take ur feet away in time? and lean more forward, its better to fall that way because then you can land on ur feet easy

Hi Blake,

Hey, didn’t you say a few days ago that you were having a bout of something that was affecting your balance? I think that’s the only reason that you’re falling at all these days!:slight_smile: But really, everything that I’ve read has pointed to falling off the back as a good thing in the learning stages of wheel-walking. I’m trying to learn that, too. I’ve just gotten a new freestyle unicycle and it’s totally different than my attempts on my KH freeride. I’ve come off the back a couple times too…I just wish that they made effective and stylish butt pads.

I have noticed that along with that very upright-feeling balance comes the feeling that the wheel seems to want to roll forward all on its own, which means if I don’t have my foot securely on it…squirt…out it goes like a watermelon seed. For me the difficult thing seems to be getting any side-to-side correction going at such a slow speed. Any tips?

I am just learning to WW at the moment, and have just about got it past the 6m ‘barrier’ mentioned in the unicyclopedia. I find at low speed that a lot of arm flailing and body twisting to change direction is the best solution. Its not elegant at all but it seems to work for me.

You can’t lean forward at all when learning to WW, you actually have to lean slightly further back than feels comfortable in order to get a steady foot motion going, otherwise the wheel accelerates out and you get unbalanced.

My main problem with WW at the moment is transferring into it, or freemounting into it, so I need a wall. Until yesterday that is, when Roger taught me this mount, so now I can freemount into my crappy WW.

Now I need to learn how to transfer out of it into normal riding, and work on going for more than 10m or so.


Well, yes… and I was only a little dizzy yesterday. I just couldn’t help myself, I had to ride! You may be right. I should probably just practice things I know how to do until I get my equilibrium back 100%! Kind of like blind man darts: labyrithitic unicycling.

Your watermelon seed analogy is great. It is JUST like that!

LooseMoose: That mount looks hard!!! I am just learning the back-mount into regular riding, so unless lt looks easier than it is, I think I need to wait. It sure looks very cool, though!! Great you can do it! Seems it must have taken a lot of nerve to rty it the first time, eh? Sounds like you are making really nice strides towards WW mastery.

Oh yes, I am going to start wearing my kayaking life jacket as padding on my back. It is light and my arms can flail freely in it.

To me WW is one of the most boring skills to practice. I keep doing it because it’ll eventually lead to gliding, but I haven’t yet found the motivation put in the kind of time it takes to really master the skill.

I have a few tips which I hope will help me relearn 1ft ww soon.

Walk slowly, go for time rather than distance.
Take long steps.
Practice “half step back”: Stop the uni in mid step, roll the wheel backwards a little, and continue forward.
Be quick to get the free foot back and ready to take another step, or to step off the uni if the walking foot slips.
Think about how things go wrong and how to bail out. Then practice falling off in a controlled way, without getting hurt.

The good news is that after you learn to wheel walk you’ll be able to land on your feet when you fall off the back rather than landing on your back and elbows. Unfortunately that’s not going to help you while you’re learning.

In my way of thinking, wheel walking is more about learning foot control than worrying about upper body balance. If the unicycle is shooting out it is because of poor foot control and not because of poor balance. Concentrate on learning the foot control.

I was a very slow learner for wheel walking. Took me ages to learn the proper foot control. And then when I learned one foot wheel walking it also took me ages to learn the foot control. But once you learn the foot control then wheel walking becomes easier and safer.

Foot control is learning the proper pressure to put on the tire, getting the feet placed properly on the tire, not letting one foot get in the way of the other, being consistent with each kick and each foot, learning to take long strokes, getting the full toe to heel motion, etc. There is a lot for your feet to do and it takes time for the motor skills to kick in and learn to do it all on their own.

Yeah, really. I don’t exactly care too much about being able to wheel walk, I just want to be able to glide. Unfortunately it seems like it’ll take a decent amount of time to get to the point of confidently gliding, with lots of wheel walking practice in the middle.

I was exactly the same, I started to learn to WW because I wanted to end up being able to glide, but actually WW is a very challenging and entertaining skill in its own right. Mounting into it isn’t too hard (the tyre is always there and its always the same, unlike the pedals/cranks). I’m slowly moving on to 1ft WW, which will end up in a glide eventually, but for now I’m content on working on my WW until its nice & solid.


I also decided to learn WW about a week ago i think my progress is a little slow can only do 2 or 3 steps on the wheel, and keel over its so frustrating :angry: . i switch between keeping my right foot on the pedal and using my left to walk the wheel and the standard way of doing it.
Anyone think this will help any ???

hey blake, something i can tell you that realy really helped me out was this. when doing your kicks make them short and quick and dont let your foot go too far down the wheel at all. just do short and quick little kicks. some people will bs you and say “lean back”- i speak out against it saying that its bs and its no cure all at all. anyways best of luck and update us on your progression:)

Got to disagree with both halves of that.

Short little “kicks” can easily lead to the wheel shooting forward, and you on your back. That style of motion should come later, as it works great for going fast. But when learning, you need control. DO take long steps, and as long as you’re not going fast, DO let your foot go as far down the front of the wheel as is comfortable. When learning, remember the idea is wheel “walking.” Once you figure it out, then you can run.

I do agree with Peacock on the leaning back thing. Don’t lean back. Don’t lean forward. If you’re being methodical in your approach and holding onto a wall, fence or spotter, you’ll figure out your balance point. You can balance in any bodily position, but for most forms of riding, including wheel walking, the best position is to sit up straight. What feels different is that your pelvic area is at a different angle when you wheel walk, because your legs are out in front of you. You’re sitting further back on your butt, and it will feel strange if you’re not used to it. But when in doubt, always sit up straight. Your spine should be more or less parallel to the frame.

Falling on your back:
First thing to do there is learn how to catch yourself before you experience the dreaded tailbone landing. I did this on my (cement) garage floor a few times when learning some wheel walking skills, and it’s one of the worst feelings. Practice falling off the rear and landing on your feet. To do this you need two things:

  1. Your feet need to be able to whip out to the sides and down behind you. Keep 'em wide, or else they may catch on the pedals.
  2. You need to know when to do it, before your balance is too far gone. Comes with practice. I prefer a slow and safe approach, while others are willing to push their limits a little harder to learn faster, maybe falling more.

Then go back to improving your distance (or time). If the wheel is shooting ahead of you, you might just be accelerating out of control. Try to keep a steady speed. This will be quite a bit slower than regular riding, so get used to it. You have to concentrate on balancing more. Most people tend to go off the front, because they keep leaning into it expecting to go faster. But wheel walking isn’t fast at all, until you’re very solid at doing it.

I’ve been able to WW for a few weeks now. It’s still not pretty, but I’ve learned to not fall on my back. The key for me was not letting a pedal hook one of my feet. I know it’s a terrible feeling. For a moment after coming off the back you think you’re fine, and then a pedal whacks your foot out from under you.

One thing you might try is wheel walking up a slight slope. That way you can lean a bit into it, hopefully reducing the falling backwards, and still get the practice maneuvering your feet on the wheel.

I need advice on getting back to my pedals from a WW. Please help me.

Look down. When you see a pedal, put your foot on it, and put the other foot on the pedal in the back at the same time. Then ride away!

Thanks. That was exactly the advice I needed.

yea…no. when returning make sure to keep one foot on the wheel so its stable, then return that foot after the other goes into place.

Tmtowtdi :wink: