Online MTB Coaching Rocks

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Ryan Leech Connection offers the most detailed MTB skills progressions available. Compare our 40-part Bunnyhop Masterclass with a free 5-minute YouTube video and you’ll quickly see why RLC members succeed where the majority of riders fail. It’s not for lack of trying, it’s simply a lack of meaningful progressions to follow. 

But there’s more to learning a skill than just following a series of progressions, no matter how detailed they are. Everyone gets stuck at some point and needs feedback to correct a movement pattern, or even just encouragement that they are going in the right direction. And this is where online coaching really comes into its own: ask a question or post a video and receive detailed feedback anytime during the learning process. You are not alone. 

This feedback comes in two forms. Ambassadors provide general guidance from the perspective of a fellow student. They know what you’re going through because they recently experienced the same challenges. Whereas Coaches provide detailed guidance from an expert’s perspective, someone with formal qualifications who is equipped to provide detailed technique advice. 

Ambassadors and Coaches respond to questions that run the gamut from basic technique advice through to detailed questions specific to unique trail challenges. Here’s just one example:

Cornering Continuum Conundrums

Member Question -  Part 1

I recently got your Cornering Continuum class to help me get better in well, cornering.

I browsed through the course and watched the vids hoping to find help on a certain corner which currently poses a challenge to me now. This corner is on an off camber, steep (30% to 40% grade) switchback, maybe 20-30ft long. I want to nail this corner but having a hard time doing so. This is a big challenge for me and I don't want to back out from this.

I got the Cornering Continuum in the hopes of getting help in this type of corner - but didn't see any mention on this. Did I get the wrong course?

Ambassador Response - Part 1

The Cornering Continuum is a good course for working on your general cornering and a good first step. Personally I found I got even more out of it the second time around as cornering is a complex topic and improvement generally comes quite slowly, over a period of many months (even years). I recommend riders do it at least twice. 

In regard to your question about the steep switchback, there is some information in the Cornering Continuum, although as cornering is such a broad topic that course concentrates more on common corner types. The lesson Knee Vee Balance is the most relevant to your steep, tight switchback. Opening the knees can really help with balance and stability. But this type of corner also requires very smooth braking and the ability to ride very slowly with good control (balance). To develop those skills I'd recommend taking a look at the Tight Switchback and Nose Pivot Course. The second section, Tight Turn Stability, is the most relevant to you. Or it may be that the corner in question is most safely ridden using a nose pivot (sometimes keeping both wheels on the ground is actually more dangerous) and later lessons develop that skill should you wish to explore that.  

And if you have the time to do some balance work then I'd highly recommend the Baseline Balance Skills course. It helps your riding in so many ways by developing slow speed balance and bike-body awareness. It's a must for all riders in my opinion.

In the meantime is there a similar corner to your nemesis you can practice on? Developing skills on something easier is always a good strategy. Perhaps video yourself riding an easier corner and post it on the site so the coaches can provide some technique feedback. And consider videoing a track walk of your nemesis corner so the coaches can see what it looks like. Context is everything.

It sounds as though you're yet to ride it successfully. Is that correct? I might suggest that the Level Pedals Bailoff lesson in Tight Switchbacks will be really useful as the ability to dismount mid-corner safely makes attempting a tricky, dangerous corner and lot less daunting. 

Coach Response - Part 1

I think most of the key things are covered above and there are some useful lessons to explore. I have added a few thoughts below: 

What Course?

  • I would encourage you to go through the Cornering Continuum drills/lessons and see how they will scale up eventually to the final 'goal corner' (sounds like a tough one!) 
  • The Nose Pivot/Switchback course may indeed be more topical for that specific corner, but again do not overlook the foundations of cornering either. 

Using lessons and feedback on videos of your practice will help hugely. If we can see you ride (and maybe your goal corner!) then we can suggest some variations from what you are doing now. If I guess at what the corner looks like and what you are doing on it, then it's likely I am going to miscue you! 

Member Question -  Part 2

Another thing that I'm doing the course for is riding 'switch-foot'. I'm working on this one lately as to me switching foot during a turn helps with cornering smoother. However, in one of the videos, Ryan mentioned that switch-foot is not necessary. Okay, I kept an open mind while watching the rest of the videos, hoping to find an explanation as to why it's not better and how not switching actually helps... but no mention of this.

Also, if I'm not switching foot, it feels like my body balance is different when I'm turning to the left than turning to the right. What I mean is:

  • If I'm turning to the right and have my outside foot back, I can easily manage my weight which aids in cornering. Feels natural.
  • If I'm turning to the left and have my outside foot forward, it is hard (awkward) for me. Since my outside foot is forward, my weight by default is more towards the front than the rear, plus feels really weird.

I'm no pro racer, just an average dude trying to get better one step at a time. Everything I said is just based on how I feel. 

Anyways, I also got your Manual, Bunnyhop and Jump classes and I like it! Still working on those for well over a year now, but it's all good. What hinders me is the fact that I don't wanna get hurt. :)

Ambassador Response - Part 2

In regard to your question about riding switch-foot, if you feel comfortable swapping feet then it's totally okay to do that. The reason Ryan says there's no need to switch is because it's possible to corner just as effectively without switching. Also, switching gives the rider something extra to do between corners and that can disrupt flow. Having said that, I totally know where you're coming from preferring to have your inside foot forwards when cornering as this was my preference for period a couple of years ago. I switched feet for every corner because I felt more confident and balanced. One reason is because having the inside foot forwards makes foot dabbing faster as your foot is perfectly positioned and this can really help with confidence. 

However, as my cornering continued to develop I found Ryan's advice (not to switch feet) became more true the more I practiced. These days I'd say 90% of corners I don't switch, but I do for certain corners if I have time because it feels more comfortable.  

So I might suggest that switching is your current preference, but that could change in the future. Individual riders have their own preferences and there's no one way that works for everybody. Trail type and riding style are also factors. 

It's common for a rider to find cornering in one direction easier than another. It would be worth videoing yourself on the same corner with your feet both forwards and backwards and see if your technique changes. It may have less to do with your foot position and more to do another factor such as hip, shoulder, head or knee position. I’d recommend posting a video in the Completion Practice lesson if you want some coach feedback. Video is the best way to reveal differences. Keep us posted and have fun out there!

Coach Response - Part 2

Switchfoot

  • My general rule is that if it is sketchy/steep, or I am going to do any sort of nose pivot or hard braking, then I have my preferred foot forward (normal stance). 
  • From what I have seen (not universal) swapping feet is most common with BMX riders usually, whereas many downhillers do not do this as much (but they may drop their outside foot). This may inform in which situations you should switch stance (ie. Is the trail BMX or downhill terrain? Berms versus downhill/rocks?)
  • This difference between switch stance and foot drop and the 'continuum' between dropped foot and level pedals is discussed in the Cornering Continuum lesson Pedal Position - Level to Dropped.

Hope that helps - I look forward to seeing this corner and helping you stomp it! 


Learning a new skill isn't always easy, despite how straightforward it looks in the YouTube Videos. The most important ingredients include detailed step-by-step progressions to follow, and meaningful feedback from someone whose been there before. Ryan Leech Connection provides everything you need to succeed. Just add practice. 

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