When is the time to get a coach?

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Coaching, Tips & Hints

I’ve got say I’ve been amazed at the sort of traffic this humble blog has been experiencing.  In just a few weeks it has had over 1500 views!  I far from know it all so would encourage more comments and ideas and opinions.  If you’ve got any topics you’d like me to have a crack at, please let me know.  Thanks for the support so far… 

We all want the best for our kids.  We all want them to become to the best cyclist they can be.  We enjoy seeing them compete and do well and we love seeing them win.  This is cycling, so they lose a whole lot more than they win – but that’s what I think is one of the best things about this sport!  It teaches them to become good  looses.

So, when is the best time for your kid to get a coach?

It was a question I struggled with for some time.  It is especially relevant if your club doesn’t have an effective junior coaching program.  If it does, I think the ideal pathway is to stay coached under your club’s structure for as long as possible.  If it doesn’t, you, the parent, either needs to step up, or you need to find a coach or program that suits your child.

The first chance a junior has to make state representation is under-15 track nationals.  For most, depending on the talent and level of development of the kid and the depth in the age category in your state, this won’t be a realistic chance till second-year under-15.  So… my thinking is to start them being coached with this in mind… start them off sometime into their first-year under-15 racing.

If your child is a late developer, it might even be better to hold off for longer than this as no matter how much work a coach does with an under-developed junior athlete, they are not going to be competitive with a junior whose hormones are racing ahead!  This is hard for some kids to accept, but is a simple fact of life.

Once you’ve worked out the timing, how do you select a coach?  This is a very important decision.  It’s not difficult to become a coach.  A one-day ‘CycleSkill’ course, then a two-day Level 1 coaching course and you’re qualified.  For this reason, I think you need to be especially careful when making your choice and don’t go with the first ‘coach’ that shows interest.

Australian sprint coach, Gary West, is one of only a handful of level 3 coaches in Australia – you ideally want to find a level 2 coach for your child!

I think it is important for a coach to have cycling experience at the highest level possible.  That’s not to say, someone dedicated to coaching can’t become a great coach, but cycling is such a tough, complex and unique sport that if a coach has been there and done it, I think it places them in a better position to be able to teach it.

These are some of the things you should look for when choosing a coach:

  1. Are their athletes performing?  This doesn’t necessarily mean winning, but are the kids they coach improving?  Are they moving onto the development pathway or have they made their reputation off one or two outstanding athletes?
  2. Do you and your child feel a connection to them?
  3. Do you share their coaching philosophy?  Ask them what it is.
  4. Do you feel they will give your child individual attention or do they just offer a ‘one program fits all’ type service?  BTW, this might be all your child needs initially and will no doubt be more affordable.
  5. Do they have a handle on sports science?  A lot of old school coaches don’t make the most of todays technology and training theories.
  6. Does their training take place in a convenient location?  Last thing you want to be doing is driving for hours to get to the start of an early morning training ride!
  7. Ask around – both parents with kids with them and try and find parents who’ve maybe moved kids away from them.
  8. How much they charge?  You generally pay a monthly program fee (somewhere between $50 and $150 per month – depending on the reputation of the coach and how much time they spend on your program).  There are often charges on top of this for one-on-one rides, testing, velodrome hire, etc. so be sure about what you’re signing up for.

When you finally make a decision, I think its a good idea to agree to a ‘trial period’ with a coach.  Maybe three-months, and then reassess how things are going.  By doing this upfront it makes it easy to move on if you feel the fit isn’t right.  Whatever you do, don’t stay with a coach when it isn’t working for whatever reason (personality, program or you just don’t think you’re getting your money’s worth).

There are often coaches that offer group sessions.  This is especially true for track.  Some coaches may have regular bookings and you can contact them to join in.  This might cost $15-$20 per session, which is the only fee you pay.  Also keep your eye out for camps and holiday programs that your state federation or clubs might run.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you chose your coach and any advice you can offer…

All for now


  1. Garry House says:

    Great info read. Well done

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s