Magic Coaching Minute: Bouncing in the Saddle

How can you help riders quiet their form and eliminate bouncing? Jennifer Sage and Tom Scotto discuss why this happens and provide a few solutions.


  1. Sure is great to read everyone’s responses. The conversations, feedback and discussions are why this professional group is so wonderful.

    I used the bobble head cue and that seemed to help but sorry to say only temporarily and then it was back to the usual until i cued again. Next demo will be the 90-100 cadence and reducing gear till the bounce appears. I find it so difficult to replicate it in myself though. Next up is the horseback riding example and cue. These are some good ones to add to my CUEZ app.
    Lastly, i’m going to buy myself one of the bouncing balls pictured with this article ( if they are even still around) and bring it to class to demonstrate. I know they’ll get a kick out of that and maybe it will finally drive the point home. Had i known i would have saved ours from the Goodwill donation years ago. Thanks All.

  2. I have a question that only slightly relates to the bouncing – I apologise but it’s come up again yesterday and I am a bit baffled. I have noticed it in 3 women on 3 separate occasions: always tall, long legged girls. Their bike set up is correct. One of them seemed like she was actually putting on too much resistance at times but the one yesterday was bouncing consistently. The problem is what is happening at their feet/ankle. It’s the weirdest thing ever that resembles a ‘broken’ motion. As if someone filmed the full circle of the pedal movement and then cut out a few frames. I actually thought there was something wrong with the pedals the first time I saw it but when I used the bike myself it was fine. The movement is not fluid, it is jerky but only at the ankle. Almost as if the pedal was catching. Any thoughts?

    1. Izabela, this is a great observation. I’ve seen a variety of issues similar to this during bike fitting sessions. Using the image of a clock with the rider pedaling clockwise, can you tell me where the disconnect, jerky motion, or hesitation occurs? 12 ‘o’clock, 5 o’clock, etc.

      1. It’s always towards the bottom, right before what is supposed to be the ‘scrape’. I notice it again last night with someone. I wonder whether it has something to do with people pointing their toes down all the time and as they arrive at the 6 o’clock the foot suddenly has to change position significantly to start pulling? Mhmm… I am so intrigued by that

        1. I see this often. It is almost always the result of a saddle that is too high. The saddle may not appear too high (because of an acceptable amount of knee flexion), but a lack of knee flexibility can inhibit the leg from extending fully. If the leg extends to it’s limit, but there is still a distance for the pedal to travel to 6 o’clock, it will appear as if the foot (toes) are reaching or searching for the bottom of the stroke (between 5 and 6 o’clock). This will appear as a break in the smooth ankling technique; as if the drivetrain became detactched momentarily. Try lowering the saddle a little at a time until the dead stop disappears. Make sure the integrity of the setup remains as the saddle is lowered. Encourage the rider to focus on the ball of the foot as they extend their leg and prepare to wipe across the bottom of the pedal stroke.

  3. Cool. I feel better now. It has seemed so effective for the riders in my studio. Upon looking at the bouncers (even at conferences), many of them seem to be pedal mashers, as well. So, these people may have more resistance on their bikes, but the stomping straight down lifts their bodies a little bit, and they may be landing more softly than someone that has no resistance and the flywheel is dragging their legs around and they have nothing to work against so they slam into the saddle in a more uncomfortable way. Think riding a jogging horse with feet firmly in stirrups versus no stirrups. I dunno, just a thought. Thanks for the feedback to my question.

  4. Author

    No, I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all! I do it at times. Chronic bouncing in the saddle, over long periods of weeks and months, may eventually lead to injury, but doing it for a short amount of time won’t hurt anyone. At the worst, it’s just a little uncomfortable and it’s just poor form and a very ineffective way to ride since power output drops significantly.

    Demonstrating it like you do, and having them follow suit, may be that lightbulb moment for some of them. I have even said, “it may look like I’m over-exaggerating, but really, some of you look just like this!”

    Because I, and many others, find it so uncomfortable to do, it really makes me wonder how so many people can do it all the time! Doesn’t it hurt their crotch? I guess they think that’s what it is supposed to feel like.

  5. Maybe you give me some advice/thoughts on whether I should be doing this or not. I have riders going along at a good clip (90-100) and I let them know that we are going to explore what “bouncing in the saddle” is. I pedal, then turn my own resistance down until they see me bouncing. I add back until I go quiet in the saddle. I do this without cadence change. It’s quite a feeling, actually. So, I invite my riders, if they would like, to try that with me one time if they want to, and the ah-has and looks on their faces when they really FEEL it, seems to be worth more than all of the cues I’ve tried to give those really stubborn people (or people that need a strong kinesthetic kick in the pants). I cue very carefully to turn the resistance down just until they feel the bounce start to happen, then add back. I know my riders pretty well, and am very judicious in this drill’s use; I usually only do it when I see lotsa bouncing going on and the verbal cues don’t seem to be sticking in the earholes. Am I doing a bad thing?

  6. I like the bobble head term as a change up and to help drive home the point of what bouncing in the saddle is. I am sure most riders will understand the bobble head reference idea but the big problem I’m finding is getting them to identify the feeling of when the bouncing begins and oops that is me. I check myself to make sure I’m modeling correct form, II use climbing segments to help them to see themselves Not bouncing and how the same should be present when they reduce their resistance and increase their cadence. I’ve used examples of riders in my video classes as examples of good riding technique and I’ll walk around giving quiet taps to help riders know they need to add resistance and slow their cadence. They’re better for the moment yet the same issue arises later or during the next class. I cue as you describe in video but I’m beginning to feel like a broken record with this In every class. I really think they aren’t feeling the bounce and therefore don’t think or recognize it is them. Thanks for the teaching moment

    1. Renee, thanks for the response. I agree that we can sound like a broken record much of the time, particularly if we have a consistent flow of new riders. Like all changes in form and focuses on technique, it can take time and lots of “encouragement.” As a coach, I’ve needed to reinforce technique during more than a dozen sessions with the same rider. I’m not surprised it is required the same or more during out classes.

      As a way of encouragement, 2 weeks ago I had a new rider in my class that sat in the front row and did almost everything wrong. I offered numerous corrections to the point of nauseam, with no acknowledgement. After the rider left (and complimented me for a great class), the rest of the riders approached me and couldn’t help express how appalled they were at this rider’s form and technique. It will take some time to break through to riders like this, but those that take your class regularly will have benefited from your example and instruction.

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