Whether you ride on flat pedals or clipped in, proper foot placement over the pedal can make a dramatic difference to the feeling of control during your ride.
When placing your foot on a flat pedal, the ball of your foot should be just in front of the pedal spindle. Basically the spindle of the pedal should support the back section of the meaty part of the ball of your foot. This placement allows the rider to stay balanced when standing on the pedals. During our rides – when railing a turn or interfacing with the pressure of a jump takeoff, it’s critical we have a balanced feel over our pedal spindles in order to have optimal results. If the pedal is too far toward my toe, it puts a lot of pressure into the Achilles as I stand, and even more pressure when interfacing with a fast turn or jump lip. It also creates fatigue in my calf more quickly as I’m forced to stand on my toes. Think about standing on flat ground – would it be easier on the middle of your foot, or on your toes? Now think about adding pressure, such as when doing a squat. The difficulty of standing on the front of your foot is only increased as G forces, or weight increases. Being too far on the toe will also force us toward the rear of the bike as we feel compressive force and our heal drops. This can create a loss of control, or at the very least, sub optimal bike handling.
If you ride clipped in, consider running your cleats toward the back of the slots in your shoe. This will give you a more balanced feel over the bike. Of course, for outright seated climbing power, there are some advantages to having your cleat toward the front of your shoe, but be sure you are not so far forward that control of the bike becomes compromised.