How to jump without getting hurt

This is the most common request I receive from students. They’ve been confused by YouTube, misinformed by poor coaching, and traumatized by trial and error. As you might have noticed, jumping mistakes can be painful.

Good news:

Great jumping is simple and safe. It uses the same exact movement skills you use for RipRowing, pumping, hopping, cornering and technical climbing. When you practice one of these, you practice all of them at the same time!

Below is the same skills progression I’ve used with thousands of riders — without injuring any of them. When they get it, every one of them is shocked at how simple, easy and smoooooooth it feels.

Keep in mind:

  • Take this one step at a time.
  • Celebrate every tiny win.
  • Video yourself so you can see what you are actually doing (rather than what you think you are doing; you’ll be amazed at the difference]). Compare yourself to me or some other you want to emulate.

If you want my direct help, you can:

  • Post video links of your practice in the comments on this page. I’ll give you written feedback.
  • If you want to do that privately and in real time, I’ll coach you on Zoom.

Have fun out there.

“To air is human, to land is divine.”


Step 1: Dial in your low and high hinges

This video goes into some nerdy detail. Once you have a solid low and high hinge, practice moving between them. The more range and speed you have, while maintaining form, the better you can jump and ride any kind of bumps.

High hinge, low hinge, crazy-low hinge >>>

Step 2: Manage angles with your arms

Pull the bars backward through every trough.

Push them forward across every crest.

Use your lats and pecs, not your shoulders and arms.

Pumping step 1: arms >>>

Step 3: Manage height with your legs

Pull your feet up as the pump goes up.

Push your feet down as the bump goes down.

Use your hips rather than your thighs.

Pumping step 2: legs >>>

Step 4: Row and anti-row

Start linearly.

Row though every trough.

Anti-row across every crest.

Pumping step 3: row and anti-row >>>

Step 4: Pump elliptically

Now things get interesting. In real life the timing of your hands and feet is offset. This creates a round handlebar bath.

Pumping step 4: ellipses of love >>>

Step 5: Make sure you don’t freak out in the air

Building safe drops - Lee Likes Bikes

Most adults lose their minds as soon as their tires leave the ground. Do some small drops in the style I teach. This is basically an anti-row — the second half of a jump. Ride small drops perfectly until you can fly without any trace of worry.

Flying off a drop >>>

Joy of Bike showing the same approach 

Step 6: Start jumping!

When you decide it’s time to jump, 95% of you will revert to whatever bad habits you’ve been practicing (most likely learned from an unqualified “coach” on YouTube). I see this every day. Please, please, please: Treat the jump exactly like a roller. Stay hinged. Project your head down and forward. Video yourself so you can see what you’re actually doing. This really works.

Essential jumping technique >>>

Watch me teach a pro XC/CX racer how to jump

You’ll likely make most of the same mistakes she does. This is very typical of how experienced riders (who are elite athletes) learn.

Teaching pro racer Dani Arman how to jump >>>

Please keep in mind

  • One step at a time.
  • Have fun. Celebrate every little win.
  • Tape yourself so you can see what you are actually doing or — better — work with a qualified instructor in person or on Zoom.
  • Pay very close attention to your body. Heavy feet, light hands, engaged butt. Everything should feel fluid and easy.
  • Post comments, questions and videos in the comments fields below.
  • Have fun!


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