Skills and games to boost your child's cycling ability
Running out of ideas to keep children entertained during lockdown?
Now is the perfect time to improve cycling ability.
The coaches from Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy have given us four games to play with kids that will not only improve their skills but boost their cycling ability.
The Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy was founded this year by triple Olympian Ed Clancy and former National Champion, Graham Briggs. The aim of the academy is to teach as many children as possible how to cycle. Although their after school clubs and classes are paused at the moment, Ed Clancy says there is plenty of fun and learning to be had at home.
The slow bike race
Play this game with your children or as a whole family unit.
Place jumpers, cones or any visible markers to make a start and finish. Depending on your child's age or speed, you can make the race 25m, 50m, or 100m. The aim of the game is to ride to the finish as slowly as possible. The last one over the line wins the race.
The game encourages balancing, control, and using gears.
"Children often grip the handlebars too tightly. They are nervous and it can affect their control", explains coach and former pro rider, Ali Slater. "Teaching children to be able to change their grip and move their upper body is a great way to boost ability, gives them a sense of achievement, and it is an easy skill to teach."
Once your child is confident pedalling on their own (read our tips to teaching children to cycle), on a grassy area or car-free area:
1. Start by asking them to loosen their grip on the bars;
2. Ask them to raise their hand off the bar, just for a millisecond, and place it back down;
3. Build up to lifting their hand higher or for longer;
4. Ask them to ride past you and give a high five.
Go off road
Ed Clancy advocates going off road with children. This doesn't mean you need to get a specific bike or head to a trail centre.
Go into the local woods or wooded areas within a park. "Cycling off road is great fun. There is no traffic to watch out for and usually no other people either", says the Olympic team pursuit rider. "In the woods you can practise weaving, steering between trees, logs, or around big puddles. The loose ground helps them find out new ways to shift their weight to balance."
Lower the saddle a small amount to make dismounting easier. Ed's academy uses ramps and wooden bridges but you can replicate this in the woods by finding small mounts to ride up and down. Ask your child to imagine 'tickling the brakes' to help them learn about different amount of brake control.
Work your way further and further up to bigger mounds or further up a hill as they get more confident at using their brakes and managing their speed.
"Off road is a good place to learn riding in and out of the saddle. Standing up on the pedals is a new skill." Ed says it is best to lead by example and show your child how to lift to lift your body onto the pedals.
Simple figure of 8
One of the simplest games to play at the park and to improve skills is to mark out a figure of eight. "You can do this with anything, cones, jumpers, or water bottles."
Make a large figure of eight and show them how to follow the route around.
As they get more confident make the circuit smaller. "You can use your markers to make a slalom and reduce the gaps between the slalom as they build up their confidence."
Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy runs a host of sessions in schools and their own after school clubs. The sessions are tailored to different abilities and age groups, including balance bikes for young riders, which include games on and off the bike.
Pedal sessions teach learning to ride, as well as increasing confidence and improving ability. There are race classes for sporty kids who want compete and 1 on 1 lessons to help riders who want to learn but may not have confidence.
Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy provides helmets and bikes for children who don't own their own.
Sessions are paused at the moment. Visit the website to sign up and learn more.
- Tags: How to Guides