Whatever it is that makes for the perfect coaching session- I am never really sure, but after having one of those memorable days it will always pay to look in to some of the possible reasons.
Perhaps it was the fact that we had not focused on the North Harbour Mini MX Club since just before the Mini Nationals were to be held there, almost a year ago. When we returned, this time at the track on Grant Leightons farm, most of the riders had never been coached by us before. The riders had no idea what to expect.
At first that made for a fairly skeptical group as we tested each other out. Discipline and respect are key, so I made sure to lay out the rules from the beginning, such as them giving me their eyes at all times, and verbal affirmation whenever asked to do something. The saying “Yes Broxy,” got well used.
Next I cast my eye over their riding gear and bike setup. The main points are lever position and safety gear; such as keeping their levers away from the ends of the handlebars and only just below level to the ground in order to make them totally useable.
Safety gear inspection is all about making sure they can still see where they are going while standing with their knees able to grip the seat and arms well bent. As it turned out, my Atlas neck braces were used by six different riders that day.
Despite Grant grooming the track on the morning of our ride, we began with the most simple track possible. It always amazes me how much you can learn on a flat track with just two marker pegs, and this day was no different.
While I keep the lessons as uncomplicated as possible, the sitting and standing positions take some getting used to. Also, because they can feel a little radical, it really pays to have an unbiased judge who can prove without a doubt that the new style is better. This “Judge” is the small transponder I put on each of their bikes, which we monitor to see what works and what doesn’t.
The final ingredient seems to be figuring out how to get the most out of each rider by gauging how much pressure to put on them. For some riders it was the incentive of a reward that saw them overcoming fear in order to do something that they had felt was out of their reach, like Troy who surprised himself by safely getting up a big hill and back; or Lochie who responded well to the challenge of beating his lap times three times in a row before he was allowed to ride the whole track.
If there is a way to summarise what worked at North Harbour last week, it would be the words individual attention. Riders actually want to give you their respect and 100% effort, all you have to do as a coach is demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and care for them as an individual. Get those two ingredients together and great results are bound to happen.