Podcast: Why the Trackstand is an Essential Skill for Every Mountain Biker

In this new podcast I talk about the Trackstand and why it is an important skill for every rider to learn. In it I explain how they will help you improve your overall riding skills as well as some tips to help you more easily learn this important skill.

Download this episode (right click and save)

You can check out this video to see how I teach people to Trackstand…]

If you think that Trackstands aren’t important but you still struggle with things like Switchbacks, Techy Climbs and/ or Rock Gardens then you don’t want to miss this podcast. My goal with it is to help more riders understand how this lowly skill can help you ride with far more confidence and flow on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems


– Trackstands are not an advanced skill or only needed for certain types of riding.

– Trackstands are an important skill for every rider to learn.

– They are also fun and safe to learn.

– They are also the best “balance drill” you can do on your bike, giving you way better transfer than balancing on a BOSU ball, stability ball or other balance training tool.

– Despite all of this they are still seen as a non-essential skill by most riders and coaches and little time is spent teaching or practicing it.

– This is a huge mistake that is leaving a gap in a lot of rider’s ability to balance on their bikes in certain situations on the trail.

– Track stands are an indicator of how well you can balance on the bike.

– When you are moving you are using momentum to help you balance and if you can’t trackstand then you can’t really balance on your bike since you always have to rely on momentum to help you.

– If you think about balance and momentum on a continuum you can see how track stands can help a lot of other skills. Think of it as your slow speed balance – nothing is slower than not moving at all!

– I personally put it in that 20% of skills that will give you 80% of your results on the trail and think that time spent on it will help riders out in a lot of ways. You should be able to control momentum and balance without it, otherwise your overall balance skills on the bike are lacking.

– If you lack slow speed balance then you will struggle with a lot of the more technical side of riding like 1) Rock Gardens, 2) Techy Climbs and 3) Switchbacks.

– So while a pure track stand might not have much carryover to the trail the slow speed balance it creates does help in a lot of areas.

– In fact, IMO this is the #1 reason that riders struggle with Switchbacks – they lack the slow speed balance needed to change the direction of your momentum in the turn. I’ll bet that that few people looking for the “secret” to riding switchbacks can trackstand very well, leading them to look for momentum based techniques.

– I also think that it is one of those skills that you should spend time learning early on and then you don’t need to worry about training it as much (unlike a higher level skill like cornering or manualing where time off can erode your skill level).

– But, let’s be honest – most people want to learn the sexier skills like cornering and manualing and the trackstand is seen as a non-essential skill for some reason.

– I think that people should spend time learning to trackstand if they don’t know how already but they don’t need to spend a ton of time on it once they can hold a regular and switch-foot trackstand for a – solid 10 seconds. It is still good to come back to but at that point you spend your time on higher level skills now that you’ve backfilled a hole in your balance.

– IMO if we got beginners off of clipless pedals this wouldn’t be an issue since trying to learn to track stand on clipless pedals is stupid and most riders switch to them before learning to track stand (along with several other vital skills).

– It also helps to use a mid-foot position and get off the ball of your foot, using the same foot position favored by surfers, skate boarders, skiers and other athletes who are balancing on top of something that is carrying them rather than running or jumping.

– Lastly, don’t let your ego hold you back by making excuses for why you don’t need to learn to Trackstand and just do it.

– Trackstands are only an advanced skill if you are trying to do it on clipless pedals and/ or on the ball of your foot, otherwise it is a pretty easy and fun skill learn and it will help you in a lot of ways on the trail.

Social Comments:

WordPress Comments:

  1. rod georgiu says:

    You’re advocating right foot forward and front wheel turned to the left.

    But in a switchback turn to the left you’re advocating left foot forward. Why the difference?

    Reply • February 27 at 12:55 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      That is an example of building the gross skill with Trackstands and then applying it in specific ways through Switchbacks. You aren’t “practicing” Switchbacks when you practice Trackstands so don’t get too caught up in why they don’t look the same, you just want to build the balance. And as you get better you’ll be able to have the wheel point in either direction, it is just easier for most riders to start with it like I describe in the video.

      Reply • February 28 at 8:31 am
  2. RennyG says:

    I am so glad that you have posted this! Learning to Trackstand has improved my riding more than I could have ever believed possible. It made me realize that attacking an obstacle when I am BALANCED is way more useful than hitting an obstacle with speed and a prayer!

    Reply • February 27 at 1:35 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks, glad you liked it and have noticed the same things. I think it is hard for riders who have never experienced it to know what it feels like but it totally changes how you can attack the trail.

      Reply • February 28 at 8:28 am
  3. David says:

    lowly skill James ? hardly my man. I think it’s an essential skill for mtn bikers to learn as a intro to more advanced skills like hopping, rocking etc.

    Reply • February 27 at 1:40 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I totally agree, I was saying that more in making reference to where most other riders rank it than my thoughts on it. I think it is one of the first things a rider should learn how to do.

      Reply • February 28 at 8:27 am
  4. ron says:

    great stuff James! i find it helpful to slowly roll into a trackstand, plus that is often how it happens on the trail as well. you really share a bunch of vital and great info on your website. thanks for helping me be a better rider!

    Reply • March 1 at 4:50 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks, glad you liked the podcast and find the site helpful!

      Reply • March 1 at 10:16 am

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