Out of all the trail skills I work with riders on Cornering remains one of the hardest to pick up. The funny thing is, it isn’t because of a lack of “knowing” what to do since there are a lot of great videos, books and camps that can teach you the technique behind it.
However, despite all of this great information explaining “how to” corner a lot of riders still struggle with applying it consistently on the trail. The reason for this is simple –Instead of focusing on the techniques behind cornering, they need to focus on the movements behind the techniques.
A lot of times it isn’t a technique issue that is holding riders back as much as it is a movement issue. If you can’t get your hips to move like you need them to then no amount of “knowledge” can help you..
I know this because I was one of those riders. Despite knowing what to do from a technique standpoint my real breakthrough with cornering happened when I started focusing on 5 movement skills to help stay balanced and better able to execute my technique.
I've found these things have really helped my clients as well and I wanted to share them with you as well...1) Get your seat down and use a mid-foot position on your pedals.
Cornering is all about getting your hips moving around the bike and if your seat is in the way it can be a lot tougher to do. In fact, if you try to learn with your seat up you’ll most likely pick up bad habits.
Also, you’ll need to be able to drop your heels so you can weight the outside foot and “carve” the corner which requires a more mid-foot position on the pedals. I recommend flat pedals since they naturally put you in this position but if you run clipless then make sure you don’t have the cleat set under the ball of the foot as this will throw your weight too far forward and make it harder to use your as hips effectively.2) Be able to ride switch-foot so you can enter a corner with the outside leg to the back.
This will let you drop your heel and carve the corner better by giving you a better platform to laterally hinge the hips from. Even though you can get away with either foot being forward entering a corner - and there are times you want to keep you dominate foot forward in fast paced DH sections - you will be better able to execute your technique if you can get your outside foot back. I've also found that most of the time riders who argue this point can't ride switch foot in the first place and are looking for reasons to not have to learn how but that is another subject for another article. 3) Set your hips before entering a corner by weighting the outside foot.
If you enter a corner balanced it is too late, you’re going to be playing catch-up with your balance points through the corner. By shifting your weight and entering the corner with you hips set and ready to shift you can set your edge faster and more easily dictate the balance points.4) Use counter-pressure to lean the bike over and your vision to pull you through the corner.
When entering a corner you want to lean the bike over by pushing with the inside arm and look through the corner to make sure you ride smoothly through it. Counter-pressure is critical to maintaining good traction and since you go where you look your vision is your ultimate guide.5) When all else fails focus on shifting the hips laterally and not squatting down or leaning over with the shoulders.
When you are doing it right you’ll feel your ribs laying down one by one on top of your inside thigh.
Your hips are the driving force behind cornering. When they are moving well then you will corner well, if you’re not cornering well then odds are they are not moving well. Focus on improving how you use them to stay balanced in corners and all the other parts of the technique will come much easier.
And, in case you're more of a visual learner, here is a video of me going over these things...
The take home message is that unless you can move your hips laterally like I show in that video you'll struggle to apply good cornering technique, which is why you need to use targeted strength and mobility training to improve that movement. Once you can do it better off the bike you'll be able to do it much better on the bike.
And in case you missed it, here is a previous article and video I posted going over good cornering technique and a drill to help you dial it in. Apply the movement tips in this post to the technique advice and drill in that post and you'll be well on your way to shredding corners like never before.
Hope you've enjoyed this tip, if you liked it please click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word.
Until next time...
MTB Strength Training Systems
MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com
for more training and riding tips like this and to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.