Jun 05, 2007, By Keith Code, © Keith Code, 2007, all rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the author. If you want to share, link to this article.
What to Expect From Coaching
One of the primary purposes of coaching and rider training is: To elevate the riderís acceptance of previously unknown sensations and gain control over them.
Thatís a big statement but it pencils out. Take this idea: once a rider is willing to exceed himself he is reaching for a whole new plateau of riding. Getting to the point where he is willing to makes some commitment is often problematic. Improvement actually begins once the rider can pass those limits. Those limits have, or seem to have, barriers or else we would all be as good as weíd like to be.
Each barrier a rider encounters is based on the unknown. What will it or should it feel like to go into that corner 2 mph faster than ever before and still maintain some reliable feeling of being in control?
It is easy to go into agreement with barriers. Most of them are the result of a riderís survival instincts, his responses to the unknown or to danger. What riders tend to fall into is a habit of accepting the barriers. They have happened often enough that they become ďthe way it isĒ. These tend to stack-up on a person when they continue to happen.
When you break it down you see that it is more the anticipation of some imagined bad result that keeps us away from moving forward into that uncharted territory of new sensations. When we flinch (withdraw from any undertaking, from fear of pain or danger) we waver from our purpose.
I canít go that fast, I donít trust the tires, Iím afraid of the lean angle, acceleration, braking forces, quick flicking the bike, etc., etc. Each of them has its own kind of stress and we feel the pressure from them. We even sometimes unknowingly assume they are real and agree with these barriers even when we see someone else go faster, cleaner, quicker, smoother, on better lines, passing where we canít and so on.
This puts us in a weird situation. It can be done by someone but the personal barriers prevent us from rolling the throttle on a few tenths of a second earlier, braking later, entering the corner faster and all the rest.
If Only I CouldÖ
While any person can visualize what he might do, should do or could do in a situation, the process of visualization itself is quirky and unreliable--it doesnít work for everyone and it doesnít work all the time. Aside from the many factors involved we still must deal with the Survival Responses that slam our good intentions into the dust.
Look at it like this, things really would work out if your ability to orchestrate all the elements was up to the task, so there is hope. You may be able to visualize yourself going over turn #1 at Laguna Seca at 150+mph but if your speed at present is 90mph it would be too big a gap to bridge. Your ability to organize and orchestrate it must be flawless or the right wrist will take command and go the wrong way, back to 90 mph.
Not everyone is cut out to ride fast. Not everyone can. Certainly one of the parts would be the ability to let go of certain sensations in favor of others that may be more important. Worrying about or resisting extreme lean angle alone can take all of your attention, so can traction, so can speed, so can your line, so can that strange weightless sensation you get in turn #1 at Laguna as you hit the crest or the rises and dips at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Are they distracting? They certainly can be.
Someone might seek the benefits of visualization to handle the reasons why they are having problems reconfiguring actions on the bike that they already know how to do. You already know how to roll on the throttle, pull on the brake, change gears. Piecing together those known movements into a new configuration is the goal.
Bringing the bike up and rolling on the throttle more aggressively than usual is an example of this. As soon as a higher exit speed is demanded by you the senses can go into overload when you attempt to reach out for indications of how it is going. Essentially you are reaching out into unknown territory with your senses. Things seem to accelerate, itís hard to tell what is important and what is not. A couple of mph and another 1/10 G acceleration makes a world of difference.
There is no trick that will get you to do it. Having a solid grounding on what is supposed to happen and sneaking up on it without becoming hysterical about it is more likely to succeed.
So called visualization is loosely describes as the personís ability to form mental images of some action or actions that they did or intend to perform.
Visualization can be a ďsolutionĒ to different things:
1) An attempt to reduce or prevent something from happening.
2) The intent to add a flow between two or more known actions towards a positive (usually that means faster/smoother) result.
3) To achieve a breakthrough of a barrier youíve observed in order to progress towards a known or an imagined goal, usually at higher speeds and most often with a better sense of confidence and control over it.
Numbers 1 & 2 seem real to most riders; number 3 is quirky. The hope in number 3 is that youíll overwhelm the negative aspects by the visualization and it will somehow magically work out, the same as saying that practice makes perfect but it doesnít always. When the same barriers are hitting you time after time, practice is actually the wrong solution.
The athlete who does the best with what he has often wins on the consistency factor alone. In other words, visualizing what you already are doing is real information, you did it at 90 mph, you are dreaming the 150 mph pass through the corner. The limit of your current assets are 90 mph, fine, now you know.
In other words, start off with a solid idea of what you are doing and some notion of what you may be able to do. Get real. As soon as you identify a proper step, that will solve a problem area, you have given yourself a real direction towards improvement.
Coaching Out The Flinches
More often than not the flinch can be overcome once it is identified correctly. No one likes to waver, to give up or feel confused about something they wanted to do but itís easy to bite off more than you can chew. Having a pro coach look at what you are doing and lead you to success keeps down the indigestion.
This is why spot-on coaching is so very valuable. You can elevate your acceptance of that next level of rider confidence, speed and skill; cut down on the stress and increase your ability to get what you want out of riding. You can exceed your current ideas of what you can do. Come out to the track and take a school and Iíll show you what I mean. http://www.superbikeschool.com
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