In corresponding with hundreds of riders around the world I’ve noticed that most training plans lack a vital component. While things like cardio and strength training are present, few riders really plan for some dedicated skills training. Learning how to be a technically skilled rider doesn’t just happen on accident and you need a chance to practice the basic techniques you need on the trail.

This is why I suggest that you take at least 30 minutes a week and work on your skills in a controlled manner. Here is a list of skills that you should work on:

1) Track Stand Regular Stance

2) Body Position Regular Stance

3) Track Stand & Body Position Switch Foot

4) Cornering

5) Manualing

6) Bunny Hop

7) Lateral Bunny Hop

I suggest working your way down this list. For example, if you’ve never learned to how to hold a track stand for more than a few seconds then that would be a good use of your skills time. The slow speed balance that you build from track stands will help you feel more comfortable when going slower to practice cornering technique and make you more balanced in slow, technical terrain.

At first I’d just find a parking lot or grassy field to practice in but eventually you’ll want to start practicing the lost art of Urban Assault. I’d have to credit a lot of my progression the countless evenings I spent rolling around looking for staircases, ledges and other things to ride on, practicing my track stands at stoplights and bunny hopping onto and off of curbs the whole way. Today, riding with my little girl to her kindergarten class gives me a chance to practice my manuals.

Eventually you can start to build some stuff to practice on if you have some room in your yard. Pump tracks are the best but even putting up some boards to practice riding skinnies or a ledge to practice wheelie drops can help. The point is that, of most of us, practicing the skills we want to improve is the only way to get better at them.

I’ve got a post on my blog about track stands and cornering to get you started with ideas on what you should be practicing. The best in a sport aren’t necessarily the most talented; they are the ones who have a talent for practicing the sport. Fitness is an important part of trail riding but your skills are an important part ass well so taking some time to practice and then applying that practice to your trail rides is the way to consistent progress.
-James Wilson-

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