“Mountainbike racing is a metaphor of your life journey” – Tristan Haycock
Inspire, Develop, Challenge
My coaching philosophy is a fluid combination of words pieced together attempting to describe deep connections required for flourishing coach/athlete relationship. In fact my coaching philosophy is so dynamic it is slightly altered daily in response to new lessons and experiences from working in the athlete development industry, the way a philosophy should be. Even to put the fundamental aspects of it down on paper is a challenging task.
Each rider embarks on their own journey through Mountain biking long before I get to work with them, the riders’ journey is unique to them and is up to them to direct. I see my role being multidimensional in youth development.
A large part of working in Youth Development is inspiring young people to dream big. Big dreams set a high bar, it is then up to the athlete if they want to pursue their mountain biking dream or dream outside of mountain biking. Either way mountain biking is a sport that can teach a number of life lessons and skills. The enthusiasm of young riders is a breath of fresh air in today’s world, and nurturing this momentum is key to individual development along with inspiring their peers. This philosophy aligns with “Inspire the nation” from High Performance Sport New Zealand and teaching our youth what real inspiration truly is, requires a healthy mixture of demonstration and support. My coaching being the latter. Although I cannot personally connect with all of our young mountain bikers to inspire their journeys I am working hard to put programs in place that do. An example of this is not only the Taurnaga Development Squad but also a community project I am currently working on to support passionate riders going through financial hardship.
Developing a group of riders is easy. However, developing a single rider to be their best is tough. I am a firm believer that holistic coaching is key to developing balanced teenage athletes. Group skills sessions, camps and strength sessions promote teamwork and engagement with peers. I have been working hard since 2016 to install a healthy supportive and fun culture in the Junior Development Process at Mountainbike Tauranga. The success this culture has achieved speaks for itself not only in the mountain bike community but also on many podiums as a secondary outcome. The real work is done when looking deeper into what each individual thinks and what riding bikes really means to them. In our modern world, the teenage years are full of change, pressure and challenges. I believe that mountain biking has so much more to offer than just skills and fitness for teenagers. With change, comes opportunity, with pressure, comes resilience, and with challenge, comes problem solving as I work to develop the rider through this rough time on their journey.
Challenging riders in training is as simple as identifying the demands of the event the rider wants to perform at. Introducing stress relative to the events demands, encouraging recovery and allowing adaptation to occur. Repeat this with progressions and you will produce a good a fast and strong athlete. But what about a smart, balanced, stable, and independent athlete. Developing these deeper traits is where the real challenge lies. The process is similar to physical training. Place progressive overloading stress on the athlete, allow for recovery and adaptation will occur. The only problem is this can take many many years. Throughout this time the person can miss many opportunities. Challenging a young person physically and mentally while encouraging the development of deep spiritual beliefs and social connections is something rarely offered. Using mountain biking as safe and supportive vehicle to introduce adversity and nurture growth is where the real magic lies.