Zen and the Art of Coaching Children
Kids delight in taking on new challenges:
"Go over the seesaw? On a bike? Do I look barmy?" / Wheeee! (alt.). Short answer, "Yes. Yes. And (er.. yes - unspoken)"
"Mike - can we set up the ramps?" (Meaning: don’t be so boring, granddad - and anyway, we understand you have excellent insurance cover).
"Yeah, but Mike, the ramp isn’t very broken". Then show that it’s safe by getting a (very small) 8-yr old to jump up and down on it.
ADHD and enthusiasm are very difficult to tell apart.
Children can be attentive, thoughtful and as mad as a hatful of badgers in the space of 15 seconds. If it’s less than 10 seconds, it’s probably ADHD.
If a kid is throwing a strop, tell mum/dad to leave them to it. If accompanied by an understanding chuckle, your expression (total bafflement) can easily be mistaken for one of profound insight into child psychology.
Age and experience bring wisdom and/or the appearance of growing through the top of your hair.
Parents are only to happy to volunteer to help, but, in an emergency, the pressgang is not without its virtues.
Parents - wear layers
When coaching children, clear and concise instructions are your most valuable tool. Regrettably, the presence of children renders this impossible.
Time, thought and application may bring you the rare gift of understanding how to become a truly great children’s coach. It will also bring about the heat death of the universe. But not necessarily in that order.
Do not set up an achievement database for each child or the heat death of the universe will have to wait.
Next to organising a bike race of any kind, moving house and/or an acrimonious divorce are/is a piece of cake.
Definition1: a child is a noise at waist height.
Violence is not the answer, bribery is - but hitting them with a Mars Bar covers both bases.
If the worst comes to the worst, remember that you are bigger than they are. But also remember that the introduction of testosterone may alter this. Overnight.
Definition2: A noise at waist height may be either a child or last night’s curry
Learn to recognise children with and without their helmets.
Don’t forget - layers
Kids just wanna have fu-un. Never forget that
Definition3: A (high pitched) noise at waist height may be a teenage boy whose feet have slipped off his pedals whilst landing a ramp jump
Encourage parents to become qualified coaches - misery loves company
A child taller than you are, is, probably, at least 12
Addressing your best rider as "Grasshopper" is a cheap way of pretending wisdom. It also shows a sad addiction to a TV programme which was last shown 25 years ago. It is particularly inappropriate if he is a dyed-in-the-wool road racer
Cyclo-cross is the technologically advanced society’s version of a raindance (See also, passim, cricket and Wimbledon)
Q - What is the sound of one hand clapping?
A - A hand hitting the forehead. Forgot your layers, did you?
It is a little known fact that water can display a rare form of age-(and rubber) related, non-ferrous, magnetism. Hence puddles and, if attached to children, wellingtons, bike tyres and entirely unsuitable footwear
Kids absolutely adore cycling. Fortunately, coaching is a well-tried way of curing this and is often used by traditional cycling clubs as a way of avoiding the risk of attracting new, young, members and thereby joining the 21st/20th century
Definition4: Coaching - a way of discovering what you don’t know about your sport
Be nice. Practise smiling while gritting your teeth. In front of the bathroom mirror. Until it looks natural.
There is no known way of preventing your best rider from discovering the opposite sex.
Or the same sex - hey, I’m cool with that.
You are a parent and have to stand in the cold and wet watching your beloved 7-year old race for 15 minutes. I am a club coach, with no children, who has to watch your kids race in the U8, U10, U12, U14, U16, O16 events - and count laps for …. every ….. single …. one …. of …. them.
Why me, O Lord? "Dunno’ man - there’s just something about you that really, really, gets up my nose".
You are a parent and have to put up with your beloved 7-year old, 24/7
I am a club coach, with no children, who can go home with an empty car and relax until next Saturday
Kissing it better beats a Band-Aid every time. But Health and Safety regulations demand a Band-Aid
And child protection policy frowns on kissing it better
Kids eventually stop bursting into tears when they fall off and don’t need you to kiss it better any more. Sad, isn’t it. (see, also, Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and going off to Uni).
I have been coaching for 12 years and am prepared for every eventuali……uhh..ohhh!
Organise a bunch of kids or herd cats? Cats. Every time
Send results to the council’s Chief Sports & Leisure Officer and the Councillor chair of the committee
Say nice things about their help.
Then ask for funding.
Buy some neat and pretty sturdy jump ramps from Argos… but don’t say I didn’t warn you
Do not park your car near the bottom of any steps - yes, they’ll even try them on their shiny new road bike
Mums always know their child’s birthday. Dads have to think about it - or even ask!
Don’t race your kids, Dad. They grow up. And your period of humiliation will last m…u…c…h longer.
Wheels ought to stay on the ground. Bunnyhops? I blame that ET, myself.
A coach needs to know when to give a child a (metaphorical) kick up the backside and when to encourage them.
So, if you know, let me know - please?
Have confidence in your bike. Its wheels will roll over most obstacles, so just relax.
I did say most…
Relaxation is the key to good off-road riding - and also to going to sleep. Learning the difference is handy.
Especially during a 24-hour mountainbike race.
Have confidence in your coaching. There’s no point in worrying between disasters.
Kids find it hard to listen. So repeat your instructions and explanations even if you go blue in the face. For all the good it will do.
Kids find it hard to listen. But they can hear a soft drink can being opened a football field away.
Kids find it hard to listen. But they will remember that you vaguely, sort of, promised them something if they were good. But they didn’t hear the bit about being good
When they’re racing, shout for your kids, not at them.
When they’re racing, shout for all of them, not just yours.
No kid ever comes last. They beat all the ones who didn’t turn up.
Generally speaking, girls are more sensible than boys and take fewer risks. Generally speaking, boys are less sensible than girls and take more risks.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they sort of met in the middle? But boring.
Bike racing is one of the hardest efforts your child will ever experience, so, before their first event - lie (just a bit).
And when they finish, lie, (if necessary, a lot)
Encourage your kid to try all disciplines, but new bikes and the consequent increase in your mortgage are now’t t’do wi’ me (sudden adoption of Yorkshire dialect is designed to persuade you that I am impervious to appeals for brass)
If you want to know how fast the apple of your eye can ride a bike, just take your eye off them for 5 seconds. This is why they go slower in races. So now you know how to get them to beat their pb for a one lap time trial (Note: this only works until their 7th birthday, after which, Einsteinian principles concerning limitations on faster than light travel apply once more)
Having an accident law firm on speed dial is grounds for expulsion from the club
Having British Cycling’s defence lawyer on speed dial is just common sense
Newtonian physics do not apply to dirt jumpers, bike trials riders and downhillers - until they make a mistake
Young mountainbiker (see immediately above), "Chicks dig scars" - yeah, right. ‘Cos nobody fancies the unmarked/unscarred Leonardo di Caprio, do they?
Delegation thro’ apparent incompetence is a valuable management tool (see also Peter Principle - via google). Delegation thro’ actual incompetence has exactly the same effect.
But claim "apparent". (Aka "suckering the parents in")
Accept that there will be a pretty high turnover
Except for yourself (aka sucker)
When running out of ideas, remove water before scraping the bottom of the barrel.
There is no finally in Zen
Zen Buddhist coach praying to discover new champion, "Make me one with everything" (Plagiarism acknowledged)
Buddhist mountain bike route - The Five-Fold Path
Novice Buddhist Mtb’er - "Ok, but which is the green route?"
Zen Buddhist Master - "All labels are illusion - you must free yourself and rise above this world"
NBM - "If I could dirt jump, I wouldn’t be looking for the green route"
ZBM - "A superman seat grab is not the first step in letting go of your ego"