Helping You Ride Stronger, Look Better, and Feel Great!

Practice Crashing, Avoid Injuries

It’s important for cyclists to do certain training drills to keep their skills sharpened. One drill I recommend you do is practice crashing!

Crash simulations are important drills for cyclists, especially mountain bikers. If you crash nearly every single race, like me, these drills help a lot!

The point is to practice the proper way to crash, in a controlled environment. Then it becomes ingrained in your mind, and when you crash for real (eventually you will,) you naturally crash properly and sustain as little injury as possible.

Here are two different ways to practice:

1) The Survival Roll

The “survival roll” is where you tuck and roll over one shoulder. (It could also be called a “shoulder roll.”) You may have done these during gym class as a kid. We had a “tumbling” day and did these. It’s also part of a typical high school football practice.

This drill will teach you how to roll through a high speed crash when you are thrown off the bike.

The basic maneuver

First, imagine you are being thrown forward through the air (because that’s when you use this move.) The basic movement is the shoulder roll, in which you turn slightly to one side and tuck your head so that the impact is taken as lightly as possible by one shoulder and dissipated across your back during the roll.

Depending on your speed, you may roll once then sit upright, roll a few times and stop, or roll once and end up back on your feet running.

The practice drills

First things first, location. I suggest practicing these drills in a soft grassy field.

For the first drill, start out crouched down on your hands and knees. Spring forward and perform a shoulder roll.

Next, stand up on your feet, but stay bent over. Lunge forward and perform a shoulder roll.

Next, stand up straight, take a step forward, and do a shoulder roll.

Once you are comfortable with the shoulder roll from an upright position, add some speed. Progress to where you are running and then dive forward, performing a complete shoulder roll.

If you want, you can even practice riding an old bike, slam on the front brakes, dive forward, and do a shoulder roll.

Tips

1. Start slow and progress as you get more comfortable. This is about practicing to not get hurt, so there’s no need to rush into it and end up getting hurt from the practice drills!

Take it one step at a time.

2. Do rolls onto both your left and right shoulders so you feel natural going either way. In a real crash situation, you could end up going either way.

3. Wear your cycling helmet and some pads at first while practicing. Not just for protection, but to make the drills resemble real riding conditions! If you wish, wear just your spandex and helmet.

2. The Slow Speed Fall

Sometimes when navigating technical sections at slow speeds, you will fall. But at low speeds, instead of rolling, you just kind of hit the ground and thud – so the survival roll won’t work here.

What you can do is increase the amount of time your body makes contact with the ground, decreasing the force of the impact on a single area.

The basic maneuver

Imagine you stuck your front wheel against a rock, lost all momentum, and you’re going down on your side. The goal is to lessen the impact.

First, unclip your foot as you fall. The side of your foot or calf muscle should hit the ground first, followed by your knee, thigh, hip, and shoulder. Do NOT stick your arm out! That is more likely to lead to a broken collar bone than to save your fall.

The practice drills

There is one drill here, but two places to practice it.

Start out on a soft grassy hillside. Roll along slowly then hit the brakes to come to a quick stop. At this point, fall over to the side. (Fall uphill, which will be less painful.)

Once you are comfortable with that, practice in a soft grassy field. You’ll fall a little further on the flat ground, so make sure you have the technique down first.

Tips

1. Imagine your body as a piece of rubber, rather than a piece of wood. See, you can snap a stick in half by slamming it on the ground. You could bend a piece of rubber or slap it around, and it could get bruised (if it had veins like we do,) but it won’t snap. (I’ll take a bruise over a broken bone any day!)

So when you fall, stay loose and relaxed. Be like Jell-O.

2. If you have good reflexes for getting your foot unclipped quickly, you might end up dabbing instead of falling over completely. That’s a better outcome, but watch out – you could get your foot stuck in a hole and twist your knee.

Now go practice crashing and ride safely!

Share on Facebook1Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone
2 Comments
  1. maybe some picture or even video would help a lot 🙂

Leave a Reply

coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

usa cycling certified coach


pn1 certified coach
Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
Coach Levi's Mom
Hometown, PA