One of our newest and youngest Go-Ride Coaches is Jack Humphreys, who has made his way through both the coaching and riding pathway.
In addition to being a talented coach, Jack competes in cyclo-cross at an international level. We asked Jack how he keeps his riders motivated and how he fits his coaching around his competing.
Q: How did you get into coaching and what coaching do you do?
I first got into coaching at the age of about 15, after attending the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers workshop delivered at one of the Go-Ride conferences. I was struggling to find cyclo-cross sessions in my local area to attend as a rider, so after going to the workshop, I decided to set some up and coach them myself – something that opened me up to a whole other side of cycling, which I am now very passionate about.
So I undertook my Level 1 coaching award and it all took off from there really. In my current role as a Go-Ride Coach, I now coach in a variety of environments, including schools, parks and cycling-specific facilities across different disciplines, such as road, mountain biking and cyclo-cross.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a coach?
One of my favourite parts would have to be making up the most awesome sessions my imagination can create to really excite the young riders, but mainly it’s seeing riders with a big grin on their face after they have performed a skill or task that they thought was impossible at the start of the session and knowing I helped them to achieve it.
Q: How do you keep your riders motivated?
All young people, no matter what level they are at, love having fun. So that’s what I try to do, make sure they enjoy themselves first. I also introduce new things for them to do and challenge them with new skills or techniques.
Each rider is different, so you do need to find out what specifically motivates them, but make sure sessions are designed to stretch them, but are achievable at the same time – and hopefully leave them wanting more. I love seeing the excitement on kid’s faces when they see what you have planned for the session. If you are getting plenty of smiles and positive feedback, then you know you’re doing well!
Q: What has been a stand-out memory from your time as a coach so far?
It would have to be finishing the last session out of a series of six in the first school I was coaching in and hearing the riders tell me that they wanted to carry on and they wished it wasn’t the final session.
Q: What’s your top tip for club coaches?
I think it would be to keep it enjoyable. If young riders don’t enjoy what they are doing, then they will not get into the sport. Make sure that you link a set of sessions together that are progressive with a goal or end point.
Have the sessions focussed on a specific event or challenge, but don’t base this on achieving a specific result or placing in a race. Keep things achievable. Set tasks for the riders, such as completing pre race preparation successfully, or challenge them to find the best line through a particular corner or section of a course.
It’s also good to set tasks for organising themselves – making sure their bikes are well maintained, that they eat and drink well, race bags packed well and they are in good time for the start. If they can learn to be well prepared, the results will come.
Q: How do you juggle competing as a rider around your coaching?
Now that I’m coaching full time, the most important thing is planning. I fit my race calendar around my coaching role (the job always comes first!). Once I have my coaching sessions arranged, I slot training rides in when and where I can.
This could mean doing a quick mountain bike session after a meeting if I’m in Manchester at Clayton Vale, or sometimes some very early morning rides if I have day and evening coaching sessions. I have learned as a young rider going through the Go-Ride programme and attending Regional Schools of Racing as a rider that planning and organisation is everything!