What is Coaching?

Simply put:

Coaching is  breaking down skills into their component parts in order to enable a skill to be developed in another person who in addition grows in confidence and competence through feedback from a number of sources. It can be a one-off, or a series of experiences building the skill and confidence of the rider.

While a good demonstration of a skill is a great help to understanding for a rider being coached, the more important skill for the coach is being able to understand the component parts of the skill by breaking it down, and then to be able to analyse the performance of the rider against these components. This understanding of what each element is, and then what each should look like is key to then being able to give meaningful feedback to the rider.

Understanding the rider, both mentally and physiologically then adds another layer to the feedback - some skills may be better delivered in one way, but the physiology of the rider may lead them to deliver them in a slightly different way. It may be possible to change this, or it may be desirable not to. In this instance knowing the rider is important. This knowing is an element of the relationship between rider and coach, and is why not all coaches no matter how good they are suit all riders.

As seen in the values statement for Real World Riding we believe that fundamental to being successfully coached is the confidence to apply the new skill. Without confidence the rider can't progress, and certainly is unlikely to practice adequately or fully in order to develop, and is unlikely to use the skill in their riding.

Being coached is a two-way relationship however. It is as important to feed back to the coach what you want, how you feel, whether this is suiting you, as it is for them to identify where they can help you improve and how best to give you feedback. tell your coach what you want, and if you're not getting that, make sure they know - fundamentally that is why they are doing what they do. It may be that there is a step to developing a skill that they believe you need to go through on your journey, but if you are doing something you see no point in, then at least they haven't explained well enough to you the journey.

Don't expect miracles. Sports science tells us that in order to perform an action with little thought but accurately, then we need in excess of approximately 80 or more repetitions of the act (good ones) on each side - it is rare for anyone to have the energy to do this in one session!

Do take enough information away You can write down, draw, film any information you want to retain in order to practice well after your session - and you should find that during your session your coach will use a number of formats for giving you feedback - you will get verbal feedback, they will guide you to your own kinaesthetic, visual, and audio feedback, and they may well use diagrams, picture and also video feedback  for your session. You can expect to finish your session able to take away some of these recorded, or to be sent them shortly after.

Fundamentally your coach should get to know you and establish a friendly, relaxing relationship in order to understand how you learn, and what format of feedback suits you best. They will break down the skill or skills you are developing as appropriate to the skill, whether you are in a group or 1:1 and the time, and help you develop each one with a mind to infinite progression in the area you want to go, and finally should leave you better able to demonstrate the skill, understanding its application, and having a good idea of how much homework you now have. Oh, and of course smiling with your new found confidence and pride.