Coaching Your Cyclist from the Sidelines
By Ann Trombley
Trailmaster Coaching and Physical Therapywww.trailmastercoaching.com
Funny how most in the U.S., even Boulder, don’t think of cycling as a competitive sport for their kids. Yes, it isn’t mainstream, but what an amazing sport to get juniors started on that they can continue throughout their lifetime. It is also a sport that your children can enjoy doing with friends or on their own. And the things your children can see and experience while riding are immense!
So, why would you want to have your child join a team and/or hire a coach?
To answer a question with a question; what is the purpose of enrolling your child in soccer, piano lessons, Spanish or art lessons? Because you have an expert in the field to teach them. Also, you, as the parent, do not have to organize the practice, set up the lesson plan and actually spend the time to teach them. Lastly, your child will meet other kids that have the same interest they do.
As a USAC Certified Coach, Olympic Athlete and Coach of the Boulder Junior Cycling team for the past five years, I carefully plan the ride locations, skills, techniques and fitness building activities we do for days, weeks and months ahead. Because it is a team, this is a group of athletes learning and riding together, so each athlete learns not only from the coach, but from each other.
For example, how cool is it to learn to pace-line with a group of athletes your age and ability? You can learn how to pace-line on the Road, Mountain, Cross or Track bike - it is an applicable technique for all disciplines, but a group is needed to practice and execute. As a coach, my main role is an educator. If I teach the group how to do a pace-line with their peers, they not only think it is cool, my hope is they will go teach their riding buddies and their families!
Similarly, if I take the team to a park and work on dismounting and remounting their bikes, as a mountain biker they may think I am crazy. But, as a past Professional racer I explain how important it is for that discipline. Then when some of the other kids on the team perform the technique with ease, the doubters will at least think it looks cool. And better yet, when one of their teammates has a story about running past people in a technical section of a mountain bike race, the group will be sold.
Another great thing about having your athlete coached and /or join a cycling team or club - they ride with a group of juniors their age. What better way for them to meet other kids that also like to ride bikes. Kids are social creatures - they love to hang out with their friends. When they join a cycling team/group with a coach, they are encouraged to ride with their friends on days they are not riding with the team. It is a wonderful way to have fun with your friends while doing something healthy. Why do all of us adults do it?!
I know I am biased about the sport of cycling, having been riding bikes both for fun and competitively for more than 20 years. There are so many positive things to learn from cycling whether riding for enjoyment and/or racing competitively it will take several articles to cover. I understand the desire to keep cycling fun for your juniors. And, I think riding with a coach-led group is just the way to do it! My goal as a coach is to organize rides where the athletes will learn something every ride while having fun and enjoying the company of their riding buddies. Then you, as the parent, can go on your own ride!!