You won’t need to read through many of my articles before you realise that I don’t believe in being gifted, blessed, lucky, talented etc (if you’re interested in understanding why, Mathew Syed’s book Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice sums it up pretty well). You get from life what you put into it and if you want to improve your riding then you have to graft for it. If you think that someone’s more skilled than you as ‘things comes easy to them’ or if you think they’re ‘lucky’ that they didn’t fall off in a race when you did or they’re riding for sponsors ‘because they got a lucky break’ then you need to re-evaluate your belief systems. Put simply, if you’re practicing for 3 hours a week and your neighbour’s practicing 7 hours a week well they’re gonna be the one that others want to go riding with and they’ll fall off less than you when they’re doing it. If that neighbour has a chance meeting with a sponsor and lands a deal, they ultimately had to be skilled enough to take advantage of that chance meeting and that’s because they purposefully practiced.
There are numerous tricks and techniques you can use to practice more effectively (this site wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t) but a fundamental of elite ability is hours of practice (as Foghorn Leghorn once said “two half nothings is a whole nothing…..that’s mathematics son”). Now while some elite riders have the North Shore or the Alps on their doorstep and get their opportunity to practice that way, others choose to practice closer to home. Below are links to three clips showing the Athertons, Brandon Semenuk and Danny MacAskill all practicing at home and if you want to improve your riding then you could do a lot worse than to follow their lead. You don’t need to have the space for massive dirt jumps or ramps, even just practicing basic skills like track stands, bunny hops, manuals and endos is going to bring on and maintain your skills at a higher level than if you’re not practicing them.
If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.