Mountain bikers have been slow on the uptake to get a coaching session. Most people would never just go down the local golf course and start just hitting balls or hacking at the turf, but they will just pick up their MTB and start riding.
Surely I will just get better if I just ride more? Maybe…but it will depend on how much you ride, what you ride and how you ride it!
One of the fundamentals of skill improvement is repeated practice. In mountain biking terms this means ‘sessioning’ a section of trail you find challenging, repeatedly until you nail it with consistency!
How often do you just go on a ride, and never cover the same section of trail more than once?
When you make an error, or get a section wrong, do you go back up and ride it again or just carry on?
How many times have you had feedback on what you are doing right and what you could improve on?
There is the 10,000 hours rule with skill development. To turn from beginner to world-class in a particular skill or sport will take 10,000 hours of repeated, focused practice.
That isn’t just going out riding, that is working on a particular technique – cornering/jumping/drops/body position etc. and really focusing on that technique until it becomes natural (i.e. you can do it without thinking about it!)
This is where coaching can really help.
Having someone to show you the correct techniques, break them down into bite-size chunks, practice with you but more importantly give you the feedback on what you are doing and how you are doing it!
This is one of the major difficulties in self-coaching, the absence of the feedback loop.
To give you an example, a client we were working with had been working on his jumping for years, but could never really get the ‘pop’ and height he wanted on a jump.
He knew what he should be doing, and thought he was doing all the right things, but when he came for coaching, we quickly realized that while he thought he was standing tall on the bike to unweight and release the energy to create the ‘pop’, he was staying relatively low on the bike and ‘squashing’ the jump. With some video feedback, he could immediately see where he was going wrong!
Once we had identified it, slowed him down and done some repeated practice on this particular element of his jumping, it really started to come together!
Do you need coaching? That is a question for self-reflection, but every rider, beginner through to world-class, can really benefit from that feedback loop and repeated practice!