One of the key elements to good cycling technique is your body position. This is particularly so when mountain biking because of the variety of gradients and surfaces.
Your bike must be adjusted to fit you so that you can move around the bike with ease
Your bike must be adjusted to fit you so that you can move around the bike with ease. However setting up your bike is not the easiest thing to do: as a beginner you are unlikely to get it right first time, and you may want to make changes in your position as your riding skills improve.
Ask an experienced rider to help you set your saddle height, bar reach and bar height - if you can, speak to someone with knowledge of your area of interest whether that is on the road or off road. Ask in your local bike shop, or a club rider, or contact the British Cycling Federation for a list of coaches in your area.
It's a good idea to make a note of your current position, and all subsequent changes - you may need to change things back if you have any problems! To begin with your new position may feel a little weird but as soon as you start riding steep climbs and descents you should feel the benefit. (See G.etting the right size bike
For short rides you won't be too concerned about position
For short rides, especially on reasonably smooth or flat surfaces, you probably won't be too concerned about your position. But when the trail starts to get a bit more technical or you ride for longer you'll appreciate the benefit of good positioning.
When freewheeling down a descent you need to be able to react to, and absorb, the terrain. Keep the cranks horizontal and lift yourself off the saddle slightly. Bend your arms slightly and grip the bars well but do not over tightly. This will allow you to absorb shocks from the wheels and jolts through the handlebars without feeling battered. On steeper descents, move your body weight further back, behind the saddle. (See Descending technique
Corners can be tackled much more easily if you shift your weight as you turn
On steep climbs the problem is the potential lack of traction, which could make your front wheel will loft off the ground. Sit towards the front of the saddle but keep some of your weight on the rear wheel.
If your front wheel is lifting off the floor, you need to increase the weight over it. Bend your arms and lower your body towards the handlebar stem to spread your weight over the whole bike. (See Climbing technique
Corners can be tackled much more easily if you shift your weight as you turn. Raise your inside pedal (so that it doesn't catch on the ground) and push your weight into the outside pedal. At the same time, lower your body for greater stability, to help get you round the corner.