Most of these bike skill games are designed to improve controlled braking where you are reducing your speed and/or anticipating the need to stop. A few focus on emergency braking which is a different skill so lets talk through how to do both these things
- Controlling speed/anticipated stop – Slow the speed of the bicycle by applying the back brakes gradually. As the bike nears a stop, apply the front brake, lower the right foot toward the ground as the bike continues to slow. At the moment the bicycle stops, the right foot contacts the ground. Do not let them glide along with no feet on the pedals
- Emergency braking – When braking in a hurry we tend to pull on both brakes as hard as possible. This causes the wheels to “lock up”. The rear wheel will skid and the rider will be pitched forward possibly over the handlebars. What you should be doing is applying the full force of your front brake with a little back brake while bracing with your arms – you will come to a sudden or emergency stop. So with all this in mind the biggest skill to learn in emergency braking is to shift your body weight back.
As the children are introduced to each game give them the opportunity to get it right first time but continually offer feedback on how they are doing so that as they get it right they can start to remember what it feels like.
STOP & GO
How? – Pick a large area like a tennis or basketball court and let the kids ride around how ever they like. Encourage them to change direction, ride in circles, go slowly. Once they have been doing this for a couple of minutes introduce the idea of stopping when you hold up your STOP sign. Do this at random time periods and encourage them to carry on with their task and not anticipate the stop.
Why? – warm up game, gives you an opportunity to watch them and see how they are braking now, give them a few things to think about/work on, ideally which hand controls which brake (if they have a pedal brake how to apply this gradually). This game develops the idea that there are other kids on their bikes in the environment so they need to be looking and aware of whats happening around them.
STOP on A COIN
How? Create a single straight line, about five metres long (use a tennis/netball court). One end is the start, the other end is the finish line, which you should mark clearly with a bold line placed at a right angle. At the intersection of the long line and the finish line draw a circle – this is their “coin”. Have the kids begin at the start line, and ride toward the finish, aiming to stop pedalling and apply their brakes so that their front wheel ends up squarely on the coin. You can start with a large orange sized coin and make it smaller as they achieve their stopping mark – this depends on the age of the kids.
Why? Great anticipated stop game, learning to control this type of braking and work on the precision – stopping on the coin.
STOP before THE LINE
a) Have each rider start pedaling down the lane and proceed to the first stop line (6m line), where the rider should apply the brakes for a normal stop. The rider should complete the stop by the 2nd line (7m). These line distances are quidelines – adapt them to your environment
b) You can now encourage them to ride at the first line faster. There will be a point where their skill for braking can’t keep up with their speed. They are young and learning so encourage them but don’t make it unsafe.
a) This game shows them the distance needed to stop at different speeds
b) As they get faster the skill becomes more about an emergency stop and developing a harder skill. When braking hard, it is a natural instinct to pull on both brakes as hard as possible. This will cause the rider to lose control of his/her bike. With the wheels locked up by the brakes, the rear wheel will skid and front wheel will lock up, pitching the rider forward potentially over the handlebars. Now you don’t want this to happen so you should be encouraging your child to slide their body back on the seat as far as possible. This transfers their center of gravity over the rear wheel and keeps the rear tire from skidding.
TIMED RELAY RACE
How? Draw 2 circles at either end of a tennis or netball court. Divide your children up and send them to either end – if you have enough for 2 teams you can choose to do this but give them plenty of space between cycling lanes. Choose one end as the start and set them off riding to the circle at the opposite end where they must stop and high 5 the next rider before they can go. Time them to see how fast they go then give them the option to have a second or third attempt to see if they can be faster.
Why? Adds a bit of speed to an anticipated stop and the skill of timing your foot contact with the ground so you can let go of the handlebars to reach out for the high 5.
TRAFFIC LIGHTS & ROAD SIGNS
How? Time for a bit of a break from riding. Grab some chalk and let them loose on the concrete, asking them to create traffic lights and road signs from memory. Depending on the age of your children challenge them to remember the order of the colours in traffic lights or just what it looks like. What are the shapes/colours of stop and give way signs? You may want to introduce road markings as well…what kind of lines will be at a give way sign…etc etc. They may want to work as a team or do it individually then come together – look at each others work. Now have a good talk about these road features and what they should be doing when they see one.
Why? Introduces what these lights and signs look like and how they should respond to them, makes them more aware of the road environment and what they should be looking out for.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
How? Quite simply put them in a line and get them to follow each other, avoid a hazard (a cone or shoe) and practice stopping in a line – whats our phrase/hand signal? so everyone knows when to stop. Give each child a turn in a different position so they can experience leading, riding in the middle and being at the back. Make each route slightly different and each hazard/stopping point different.
Why? To apply the skill of how much distance do I need to stop at this speed. In other words, what is a safe distance to travel behind someone? Teaches them to communicate their intentions or warn of a hazard on the road/track.
Awesome! You’ve reached the end and thats all for today. Reward them however you feel is appropriate – certificates of participation, braking gold medals, chocolate treats for champs, maybe you gave out points for each game…
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
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