Braking

Now that your rider can comfortably glide, it’s important to teach them how to stop themselves. your rider should be familiar with how their brakes work from the safety check.

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Progression:

  • Step 1: Practice stationary braking using the “squeeze, feet down” command.

  • Step 2: Set up an obstacle course with dedicated stop zones. Have your rider demonstrate they can stop from gliding while saying “squeeze, feet down.”

  • Step 3: Challenge your rider by giving them the stop command randomly as they glide around the course.

PROFICIENCY Test:

  • Your rider should be able to demonstrate controlled stopping when given a random command to do so.

Note: We highly recommend using a bike with at least one handbrake. This helps riders distinguish that feet are for moving and hands are for braking. If your rider's bike has two handbrakes (this is ideal), be sure to teach them to use the brakes evenly and at the same time.

Braking – “Squeeze, feet down”: We use the “squeeze, feet down” phrase to teach your rider that when they squeeze the brakes, they need to catch themselves with their feet too. Have your rider:

  • Sit on their bike with their feet on the ground. Instruct them to rest their two first fingers on the brake levers. We will want to remind them that this is where their fingers should be at all times.

  • Ask them to squeeze both levers at the same time and say the word “squeeze,” their squeezing motion should take as long as it takes them to say the word (if they squeeze too fast it might cause them to skid out if they are in motion). Then have them lift their feet off the ground and place them immediately back down, saying “feet down.”

  • Next, challenge them to see if they can hold their balance by hovering their feet, then do the “squeeze, feet down” drill while they are balancing.

  • Finally, have them glide around an obstacle course as they were during part 1 and practice stopping in certain areas of the course. Be sure to have them say the command as they are practicing it to help reinforce the skill.

  • When they get really proficient at the “squeeze, feet down” drill, challenge them by giving them the command randomly as they are gliding around to see how fast they can react. Try this on various surfaces (asphalt, gravel, grass, etc.)