Over the last few months I’ve been secretly working on a project that has been long overdue. I call it The Underground Skills Training Handbook and in it I hope you will find some tips that will help you ride with more flow and confidence.

I put this handbook together because I believe strongly in two things:

1 – Knowing how to ride your bike in a safe and effective way shouldn’t be a secret. You can and should have access to everything you need to know without having to pay for it or go searching through a bunch of different resources.

2 – The thing holding most riders back isn’t knowing the “10 Steps of Cornering” or any other step-by-step method. The problem most riders face is having the body awareness and movement ability to execute those things in the first place.

What this means is that most riders don’t have a skill problem, they have a movement problem. And trying to solve one with the other won’t work.

I know because I’ve been coaching riders since 2005. Early on with MTB Strength Training Systems I started to coach my clients on skills as well because it went hand-in-hand with the strength and conditioning training we were doing.

I realized that everything you do on the bike is a combination of basic movement skills that we use off the bike and the key to helping riders was to show them how to apply good movement to the bike. This led me to start looking into skills coaching methods to share with my clients.

What I found, though, was that a lot of what I was learning either went against my own experience on the trail or movement principles that I knew from the gym. I tried to overlook that, implementing and coaching what I had learned because it came from “the best” in the skills training industry.

However, my unique position of working with riders several times a week for years – as opposed to a few days over a camp/ clinic – showed me that over the long term a lot of this advice was breaking down and leading to bad habits. Showing someone how to get better at going through a parking lot drill or around a pump track is one thing but showing them the principles they need to keep progressing on the trail is another.

Things like “light hands, heavy feet”, “drop your outside foot in corners” and “lean your bike and not your body” simply were not working, especially compared to the methods I was developing myself. By looking back at the basic movement principles I knew to be true in every other sport and situation I started to break the rules and see better results because of it.

Over the last several years I’ve written a lot of blog posts, shot a lot of videos and even recorded podcasts sharing my “underground” views on improving your skills. Like I said, I want to make sure that riders everywhere have access to the info they need to improve their skills.

Some of these things – like leading with your inside foot when you go into a corner – are actually starting to gain traction in some circles but most of what you are about to read will be pretty controversial. It goes against a lot of what you think you know about skills training for mountain biking and isn’t what you’ll learn at your local clinic or through weekend certified coach.

In fact, you won’t learn this stuff anywhere else. I just ask that you keep an open mind and try what I suggest, even if it is so that you can so you did and my advice still sucks.

But I’d be willing to bet that if you apply the things you’ll learn here that you’ll improve every aspect of your riding in a few weeks and you’ll have the blueprint you need to keep seeing improvements for years to come.

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Nothing feels better than flowing down a sweet trail or conquering a technical section that always got the better of you and I hope that the Underground Skills Training Handbook helps you enjoy more of that.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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