The only retiring Swicked Cycles owner James Durand expects he'll do is retiring customers' bikes. Photo submitted

From competing to coaching

By James Durand

  • Aug. 11, 2021 12:00 a.m.

By James Durand

I think in most sports there are athletes that make a seamless transition to coaching, and some that don’t.

Just because you are an amazing athlete doesn’t mean you can translate those skills to another human and there are many stories of average competitors that have become phenomenal coaches later in their careers.

Apparently there is no magic recipe. Coaching, like any skill, is easy for some and not for others, despite how much experience they may have.

I’ve competed in many sports throughout my life. I’ve been good at some, average at others and, well, we’ll leave the rest in my past where they belong.

I’ve also taught skill development in mountain biking for years and helped beginners go to intermediates, to advanced riders. I had a knack for breaking down skills into baby steps and it translated well to most riders.

At the time I started teaching, my long time racing partner started coaching young racers

He was often frustrated if his pupils didn’t ride like he did. He seemed to believe that just because he could do it, that watching him would teach beginners. His main motivational approach was to yell at his pupils. Later on in life, he often complained about his kids not showing interest in riding and wondered why they couldn’t be more like him? Hmmm, I wonder? Maybe he should have stuck to riding. He had fun doing that.

I now have a five-year-old BMX racer. He’s never competed in an organized sport before, and me being me, I hope for a little ripper that will give almost anything to win.

He’s had a few races now and has shown signs of skill and speed. He’s even won a few motos.

On other days he’s been tired from his day’s activities and rolled out of the start gate looking around aimlessly, coasting through the course while his peers race to the win.

There is a voice in my head that starts coaching, motivating, and looking for ways to teach him to be ruthless in the pursuit of a win. I want to yell at him to pedal faster.

The other part of me sees him pumping and rolling across the finish line with a big smile, most likely thinking of the freezie he’ll get at the end of the day, and I remember he’s five, and riding a bike.

My biggest successes in sport were when I was just having fun, any victories came as a bonus.

I think I’ll leave “crazy coaching Dad” in my head and let Regan have fun. The wins will come naturally for him … or not.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…

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