To ace a gate in BMX racing, it’s important to focus on three key aspects: mental and physical preparation, technique, and execution.
Here’s a guide to help you improve your gate starts:
1. Mental and Physical Preparation:
- Warm up: Engage in a thorough warm-up routine with Rexer Products, Rollers and Roller Stand to get your muscles ready for the jumping session.
- Visualize a successful start: Mentally rehearse the entire process of a perfect gate start, from the beep of the countdown to your explosive acceleration.
- Maintain a positive mindset: Confidence plays a significant role, so stay positive and believe in your abilities.
- Pedal position: Rider’s back foot is even with the lower chain stay. Lower chain stay is between the two tubing’s that attach the cranks to the rear hub on the frame.
- Body position: Legs should be slightly bent. Do not lockout knees or be in a deep squats. Riders hip should be centered over the seat or slightly behind the seat depending on the timing of the gate. Hips will be further back for slower gates and shifted further forward for faster gates.
- Feet position: Once standing on the pedals make sure the riders feet are flat. Do not have the heel of your foot lower than your toes. When your heel is dropped it must raise to a flat position to pedal out of the gate, if this movement is avoided it will speed your timing out of the gate.
- Balancing: Rider should be able to balance without either foot on the ground. To balance in the gate keep pressure on the front foot to wedge the front wheel between the gate and ground. Use your handlebars to counter your balance in the gate by making small adjustments. If rider can not balance have their non dominate foot on the ground with the dominate foot on the pedals. The dominant foot should be the forward foot in the gate. The non dominant foot with be the back foot. Ensure that the non dominant in foot or back foot is behind the pedal instead of in front of the pedal. When back foot/ non dominant foot is behind the pedal it will allow for smoother transition when riders places their foot on the pedal to get out of the gate.
- Movements: Minimize small movements prior to rolling into the gate and while the cadence is talking. Common small movements are adjusting grip hold, adjusting pedal position, adjusting body position, and adjusting foot placement on pedals.
- Timing the gate drop: Focus your eyes on either two points; the lights or top of the gate. If watching the gate focus on when the gate starts to descend, initiate your explosive pedal stroke. If watching the light focus on when the first light flashes, initiate your first explosive pedal stroke. For those that prefer to watch the light your timing with vary depending on the speed of the gate. If the gate is slower you will need to wait for a later light to flash before initiating your first explosive pedal stroke.
- First pedal stroke: Drive your front foot down forcefully. Focus on making a smooth connection from your first, second, and third pedal strokes.
- Body movement: Once the gate drops lead with your shoulders and press down on the pedals in one motion. The body position from your hips to shoulders should remain in the same position from when standing in the gate to shifting your weight forward. Goal should be able get your hips as close the bars on the first pedal stroke as possible while leading with your shoulders.
Remember, practice is key to mastering gate starts. Regularly train on a BMX gate or Dead Start sprints to refine your technique and improve your reaction time. Analyze your starts, identify areas for improvement, and keep working on them.
Click here to seek guidance from Alec Bob, World Champion BMX racer on personalized advice how to improve your two wheel skills.