Tumbling drills to save your a**

We’re all going to crash – it is just a fact of life for mountain bikers. Practicing basic tumbling drills is something I  recommended for mountain bikers to help them understand how to crash better.

Getting good at these basic drills will save your a** some day. It can be the difference between walking away from a crash and lying there in a bloody, wimpering heap. Trust me on this one, I’ve had these drills save me more than once!

-James Wilson-

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  1. BoT says:

    “I don’t know why but practicing basic tumbling drills is not something that has been recommended for mountain bikers to help them understand how to crash better…until now.”

    Ned Overend, the god of XC, has the whole chapter 18 in his bible “Mountain bike like a champion” dedicated to Crashing, including drills, instructions and pics. That book has only been around for 10 years …

    Reply • November 11 at 4:38 am
    • bikejames says:

      @ BoT My bad, I guess I missed that. I’ll revise my statement…”no one has talked about it for the modern mountain biking crowd until now”. That it was mentioned once in a 10 year old book still speaks to the fact that tumbling drills are not commonly used to help riders learn to crash better. As far as I know, few people in the modern era have suggested it. Every time I mention it to a rider I see a light go off in their head as they realize how obviously important it is. After corresponding with a few hundred riders, from World Cup pros to local bros, and noticing that they all have the same reaction just lead me to believe that no one else was talking about it.

      Thanks for the heads up, though, I’ll be sure to check that info out.

      Reply • November 11 at 7:15 am
  2. Ole says:

    I totally see your point and how this is important skills.

    I had a good crash where my shoulder hit a root last year. Almost ripped one of the shouldmucles. Anywho.

    Im not scared to do drops, but I am actually a bit hesitant to do rolls. Which is pathetic. Next time Im in the gym Im gonna do it though. So thanks for the push 🙂

    Reply • November 11 at 6:52 am
  3. Adam says:

    On your philosophy of good, better, best, I think this comes under good; personally I think an ordinary somersault is not the best way to roll. It could expose the head and neck to quite significant trauma. The parkour boys have been rolling to prevent damage after dropping from great height for ages and the PK roll is pretty much universally accepted by these guys, whereas if you start somersaulting you’ll get shouted at for being unsafe! Check out this video to see what I mean:

    That said, it is necessary to know the basics of somersaulting before attempting more complex rolls.

    Reply • November 13 at 4:01 am
    • bikejames says:

      @ Adam – two things. First, their roll looks exactly like what I was calling my “shoulder roll” but they did a better job explaining it. I so encourage everyone to check that video out. Second, I can tell you from experience that sometimes you will get pitched straight over the bars and not really have the chance to turn a shoulder. While a regular somersault is not the best way to roll since, as you pointed out, it can expose you to injury more than a side roll will, you may need to do it. I had it save my a** just two weeks back – luckily I was rolling into some dirt and sand and not asphalt, though.

      Like you pointed out you need to know the basics before you can get more advanced. I also mentioned in the video practicing by running at and jumping over a swiss ball to simulate getting pitched over the handlebars. That is about as specific as you can get but I wouldn’t recommend doing that until you were comfortable with the basics.

      Thanks for the input, that video was very interesting and gave me some ideas on coaching the side roll better.

      Reply • November 13 at 7:21 am
  4. James, I’ve shared this video with my road bike racing team as well as my triathletes. Too many of them this year had falls, some due to wet road lines, some due to inexperience, and two of them, both males, broke bones. Now I stress the importance of bone health, especially in road cyclists, as well as injury prevention. Thanks.

    Reply • December 23 at 2:48 pm

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